It's easy to get a basic reproduction of a painting, but getting a truly accurate copy is harder than you think. Modern 2D printers typically only have four inks to work with, which simply won't do if you're trying to mimic a classic. Researchers at MIT's CSAIL might have a much better solution -- they've developed RePaint, a system that recreates artwork using an AI-guided 3D printer. The technology promises color-accurate reproductions even in less-than-flattering conditions.
RePaint works by stacking ten different transparent inks in thin layers, with the AI predicting the ideal stack needed to generate the intended colors. The team also fed the AI paintings to help it determine which colors were needed in particular areas of a painting, adjusting for changes in lighting conditions to guarantee consistency. The technology also relies on halftoning (where you create images using ink dots) to more closely match colors.
The technology can't currently recreate surface texture and reflection, so you won't get the matted or glossy look of some paintings. And you certainly won't get a Louvre-sized masterwork any time soon -- the output is currently the size of a postcard. If and when it scales, though, RePaint could have wide-ranging appeal. You could have a more authentic-looking Monet or Van Gogh replica in your home, while museums could protect valuable originals by showing reproductions whenever possible.