Guiding Artists To Paint Using Traditional Media & Tools

October 15, 2006

(October 15, 2006)--College of Computing Ph.D. student Matthew Flagg and his faculty advisor Jim Rehg have developed the Projector-Guided Painting Project which is supported in part by the National Science Foundation. This week, Flagg will present a paper titled “Projector-Guided Painting” at the 19th annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST), the premier conference for research in the software and technology of human-computer interfaces.

Flagg’s paper describes a novel interactive system for guiding artists to paint using traditional media and tools. The enabling technology is a multi-projector display capable of controlling the appearance of an artist's canvas using projected light. Unlike traditional art projectors, which are only useful in the initial stages of painting, Flagg’s and Rehg’s system adapts to the painted canvas and can provide guidance throughout the entire painting process. By creating a display directly on the canvas, the computing researchers provide the artist with a set of interaction modes that aid in planning and executing the application of paint.

“Our interface design is based on a layer-based description of the painting process, modeled on the popular Alla Prima technique,” says Rehg. “We designed our interaction modes to address the common challenges faced by novice painters.” In fact, there are three main interaction modes which provide the artist with a visualization of each layer, guidance on the execution of brushwork, and support for paint mixing. These modes allow novice painters to focus on a set of sub-tasks and help to manage the complexity of the painting process.

Flagg and Rehg presented the results from a user study which quantifies the benefits of their system. The results suggest that novice painters become more confident in their painting ability after using the system (in comparison to a traditional art projector), and that their paintings are of higher quality when judged by a panel of professional artists.

The cover of the UIST proceedings will feature an image showing the projector-based interface being used to paint an impressionist rendering of Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Flagg and Rehg will also give live demos of their painting system at the conference held in Montreux, Switzerland on October 15-18, 2006.

For more information about the UIST conference, click here.