Portrait Painter Turns G-Code Into Artworks

Portrait painting is, by and large, a human endeavour. But, like any and all skills, there are machines ready and willing to take a crack at it. [Jose Salatino] has built just such a machine, and the results are impressive.

Samples of the artwork created by [Jose’s] portrait painter.
[Jose’s] portrait painter relies on a Cartesian CNC setup, with an X-Y gantry fitted with a retractable brush carrier. The carrier holds four brushes, allowing the device to paint with different sized strokes as per the artistic requirements. An algorithm is used to turn images into a series of brushstrokes, which are then turned into G-code to drive the system. Colors are mixed just like a human painter would, with the brush dipping into a series of paint pots. Using the hue-saturation-brightness (HSB) color system makes this easy.

While it’s much slower than your average printer, the goal here isn’t to create photorealistic images, but to create something with artistic appeal. The artworks painted by the ‘bot have a remarkable likeness to oil paintings by human artists, thanks to using similar techniques. We’re sure [Jose’s] experience as an oil painter helped out here, too.

We’ve seen other ‘bots produce custom artworks before, too. Video after the break.

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Rosalind Franklin Saw DNA First

It’s a standard science trivia question: Who discovered the structure of DNA? With the basic concepts of molecular biology now taught at a fairly detailed level in grade school, and with DNA being so easy to isolate that it makes a good demonstration project for school or home, everyone knows the names of Watson and Crick. But not many people know the story behind one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century, or the name of the scientist without whose data Watson and Crick were working blind: Rosalind Franklin.

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Landscape To Portrait At The Click Of A Mouse

Modern 16:9 aspect ratio monitors may be great for watching a widescreen movie on Netflix, but for most PDFs, Word documents, and certain web pages, landscape just won’t do. But if you’re not writing the next great American novel and aren’t willing to commit to portrait mode, don’t — build an auto-rotating monitor to switch your aspect ratio on the fly.

Like many of us, [Bob] finds certain content less than suitable for the cinematic format that’s become the standard for monitors. His fix is simple in concept, but a little challenging to engineer. Using a lazy susan as a giant bearing, [Bob] built a swivel that can be powered by a NEMA 23 stepper and a 3D-printed sector of a ring gear. Due to the narrow clearance between the top and bottom of the lazy susan, [Bob] had to do considerable finagling to get through holes for the mounting hardware located, but in the end the whole thing worked great.

Our only quibble would be welding galvanized pipe for the stand, which always gives us the willies. But we will admit the tube notching turned out great with just a paper template. We doubt it would have been much better if he used an amped-up plasma-powered tubing notcher.

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Class Up Your Haunted House With A Disney Mansion Prop

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Die-hard Disney fan [Brandon Etto] must have one of the coolest houses in the block around this time of year, especially now that he’s built his own Master Gracey changing portrait. If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney Haunted Mansion attraction, there are a few different versions at theme parks around the world; the Orlando one features a portrait above the fireplace that miraculously ages into skeletal form.

[Brandon’s] recreation uses a Raspi loaded with a Video Looper SD image that cycles through a clip of the aging man image. He fabricated a box to hold a 19″ LCD monitor and mounted an inexpensive IKEA frame to the front. The magic is hidden with window film applied to turn the frame’s glass into a two-way mirror: a technique [Brandon] borrowed from this Halloween Instructable.

For a step-by-step tutorial, you’ll want to head over to [Brandon’s] writeup on MAKE, but stick around for a quick video demonstration after the break and check out another Haunted Mansion hack: the Singing Heads.

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Drawbot Produces Portraits… Very Slowly

This robot artist, the Drawbot, produces images using an Arduino and Processing. A piece of paper is attached to a wall as a stylus connected to a couple of stepper motors scribbles out patterns that gradually become the image seen above. Each drawing is different and can take several weeks of constant operation to finish. That must have made debugging a real problem for [Harvey] during development. We wonder if this would work with homemade pencils?

Self-portrait Machine

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[Jen Hui Liao] created a device that guides the user into drawing a portrait of themselves. Dubbed Self-Portrait Machine, it comments on how much in society is created by machines and we are dependent on them. Unlike previous drawing robots, the user is part of the sketching process. The machine holds the users hands and uses stepper motors and servos to move them around like a LOGO turtle. Liao promises to have more details available soon. Video of the machine after the jump.

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Functional Etch A Sketch Costume

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We love all of the creative Halloween costumes that have started trickling in now that the holiday is finally over, and people have found time to document their last minute projects. Take this functional Etch A Sketch costume made by [mazinbenny]. The knobs are lawnmower wheels. The pulley system is strung with 1/16″ wire rope to move a carrier for a dry erase marker. The marker draws directly on an acrylic screen. HowStuffWorks has a post on how a real aluminum powder based Etch A Sketch works.

We’ve covered more technical Etch A Sketch projects in the past. We’ve seen them hooked up to computer mice, drawing portraits at Maker Faire, and commenters have even suggested turning mechanical dry erase boards into giant Etch A Sketches.