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Replicas of famous paintings are routinely created with printers that use only four inks; cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

RePaint, which is a new technique developed at MIT, combines artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and a rich 10-ink palette for much more faithful results in any lighting condition.

"If you just reproduce the colour of a painting as it looks in the gallery, it might look different in your home," study co-author Changil Kim, a postdoctoral fellow at CSAIL, said in a statement.

Pictures of the original work of art are first analyzed by a deep-learning artificial intelligence algorithm, which selects the right combination of inks to be used. Each of the 10 transparent inks is then carefully deposited by a 3D printer, with colour often being stacked on top of one other. Gradients are reproduced through well-known techniques such as half toning, which is the use of dots of various size and spacing to simulate a continuous tone.

The results are a colour accuracy that was measured as four times greater than state-of-the-art physical models and that, unlike standard prints, is faithful to the original irrespective of placement or room lighting, according to the researchers. Besides commercial prints of famous paintings for your home, the RePiant technique could be used in museums to create accurate replicas of works of art which have been stolen or are too sensitive to be exposed to the public.

Lastly, the printing process is quite slow, with the prints being only about the size of a business card, although the researchers feel optimistic that future commercial 3D printers will speed up the process considerably.

You can watch the algorithm at work in the video below.

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