Watch these robots create works of art

Human artist or robot? You’d be forgiven for thinking people wielded brushes to create these works, but they’re all paintings by robots.

Founded by internet entrepreneur Andrew Conru, the RobotArt competition, which has just completed its first of five years, aims to merge the tech know-how of research institutes around the world with artistic creativity.

Check the winners of the inaugural competition below:

First prize: TAIDA, National Taiwan University

The TAIDA robot artist only uses five colours – cyan, magenta, yellow, white and black – to mix its palette, but that didn’t stop it taking out the top prize.

The robot artist’s creators, from the International Centre of Excellence in Intelligent Robotics and Automation Research, enlisted the help of a professional (human) painter to make the artwork more realistic.

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King of Beasts / Fully automated execution
TAIDA National Taiwan University

They also introduced “underpainting”, a technique often used by oil painters to provide a block base of colour on which to add detail.

A camera attached to the robot’s “wrist” continually compares the painting to the picture from which it’s copying.

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Albert Einstein / Fully automated execution
TAIDA National Taiwan University

Second prize: cloudPainter, George Washington University

CloudPainter is the father-son team of Pindar and Hunter Van Arman.

In the portrait below, artificial intelligence chose its “favourite” picture of Hunter, Pindar says, and used facial recognition to produce this composition.

Most importantly, he adds, the robot knew when to stop painting – when it calculated that the portrait could not be improved with more brush strokes.

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Hunter / Fully automated execution
cloudPainter / George Washington University

The simple lines of the portrait below were crowd-sourced from a group of children.

Using a brush, they traced the outline of a photograph on a tablet. The robot then painted those strokes on a canvas.

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Kid sourced portrait / Manually (semi or full tele-robotic) generated
cloudPainter / George Washington University

Third prize: NoRAA, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera – Milan – Italy

Patrick Taberelli created the NoRAA project in 2014 to combine algorithms with art: “I’m interested in producing original emotional visual experiences made by a machine but close to a human sphere of sensibility.”

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{F}, 2016, acrylic on canvas / Fully automated execution
NoRAA / Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera – Milan – Italy

His software generates patterns and he changes pen nib size and ink colour to produce these seemingly simple pictures with underlying complexity.

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{F}, 2016, liquid watercolour on canvas / Fully automated execution
NoRAA / Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera – Milan – Italy


For more information about the competition, entrants and artwork, visit the RobotArt website.

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