Different Strokes: 3D surface analysis helps computers identify painters

Researchers at NVIDIA & Case Western Reserve University have developed an algorithm that can distinguish different painters’ brush strokes “at the bristle level”:

Extracting topographical data from a surface with an optical profiler, the researchers scanned 12 paintings of the same scene, painted with identical materials, but by four different artists. Sampling small square patches of the art, approximately 5 to 15 mm, the optical profiler detects and logs minute changes on a surface, which can be attributed to how someone holds and uses a paintbrush. 

They then trained an ensemble of convolutional neural networks to find patterns in the small patches, sampling between 160 to 1,440 patches for each of the artists. Using NVIDIA GPUs with cuDNN-accelerated deep learning frameworks, the algorithm matches the samples back to a single painter.

The team tested the algorithm against 180 patches of an artist’s painting, matching the samples back to a painter at about 95% accuracy. 

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