AI-powered robot can reproduce artists’ paintings at scale

The machine generates nearly identical works of art with small discrepancies that make them unique.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a robot creating art.jpg
Representational image of a robot creating art.


Robots or automated systems that are built and programmed to generate different types of artistic creations are referred to as art robots. These robots, which come in a variety of shapes and have different capacities, create artwork using a combination of hardware and software. 

Among these machines are certain art robots that are engineered expressly to produce visual art, including drawings and paintings. These robots have the ability to use ink or paint to create an image on a canvas, applying the substances with such tools as pens and paint brushes.

Better and faster

Now, a new Canadian startup has invented just such a robot that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to reproduce artists’ work at scale. The company is called Acrylic Robotics and it is the brainchild of founder Chloe Ryan.

Ryan told CTV News on Saturday that the idea for the new invention came out of the desire to construct a machine that could help her paint faster and better.

“I realized if I could build this for myself I should be making it accessible to all artists,” she told the news outlet. “That’s when things changed into me thinking I could make an actual company out of this.”

Machine learning and neural networks are used by AI-powered art robots to produce their masterpieces. These machines are able to identify patterns, gain knowledge from their own work, and produce artwork that closely resembles human artistic forms. In the case of Ryan’s device, these networks are used to recreate almost exact copies of already-existing artwork.

The new robot has a digital system that lets painters keep track of every brushstroke they make. It is accessible to everyone with a laptop or tablet, regardless of location.

The machine creates works of art that imitate the originals with small discrepancies. Ryan claims that this adds to the project's appeal. 

A certain degree of imperfection

“When I first started the company, I assumed we had to get 99.9 percent perfection or our artists would hate us,” she told CTV News. “A lot of the research that we did, both quantitative and qualitative, found that artists actually want there to be a certain degree of imperfection.”

Ryan further added that while each robotic imitation piece shouldn't look entirely different from the original creation, if it does, potential customers will be willing to invest much more in it because it feels more genuine than something that was mass produced.

There will always be slight irregularities because of the way paints setlle and brushes function, she said, but these flaws should not be too obvious or too many.

“We have quality assurance,” Ryan noted. “We also sometimes remove some from what we release. Macroscopically the goal is to have them all be completely identical.”  

As new developments in robotics and artificial intelligence evolve, art robots represent an intriguing intersection of technology and creativity. They pose significant questions concerning the definition of art, the function of the artist, and the possibilities for machine-led creativity. Ryan’s work adds to these questions by producing art that is partially a recreation of an already-existing piece and partially a new and original creation.

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