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bitPaintr is a robot that paints portraits using a mix of its artificial intelligence, my artistic direction, and your input. We want to paint your portrait with you.
bitPaintr is a robot that paints portraits using a mix of its artificial intelligence, my artistic direction, and your input. We want to paint your portrait with you.
53 backers pledged $5,665 to help bring this project to life.
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About

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bitPaintr - A Portrait Painting Robot

$5,665

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About Me - Pindar Van Arman

I am a technology artist. I have been a painter most of my life but for last ten years I have switched my focus to making painting robots. My art is the form, function, and design of these machines and the algorithms that run them. The paintings and videos we make are the artifacts of this process that I share with the audience.

About bitPaintr

bitPaintr is my fifth major painting robot project. Briefly described, it is a new website and robot that I am working on to paint user submitted portraits. Similar to photo printing services, users will be able to use the website to upload photos and my robot will immediately begin painting the image with a brush on canvas. The placement of the brush strokes will be based on both the robot's own artificial intelligence and my artistic direction. Once each portrait is complete, the canvas will be mailed to the person who uploaded the photo.

The funding goal of this Kickstarter includes setting up and operating the website and my robot for two years. It also includes the costs and logistics behind gathering 25-50 user submitted portraits for use in a traveling art exhibition. 

The Website

A website will be created similar to photo printing services except that it will be for the creation of unique paintings by bitPaintr. When a user submits a portrait, they will be given the option of ordering it in one of the five styles seen below.  These are also the five styles referenced in the rewards section for backers of this project.

Five styles and sizes that can be painted by bitPaintr
Five styles and sizes that can be painted by bitPaintr

bitPaintr will analyze the submitted photograph using a variety of AI algorithms and immediately begin painting it. I will also be notified that the portrait has begun and will begin using my remote interface to take control of the robot and paint along with the AI. In the following video you can see me adding a stroke to a Gandhi portrait.

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Depending on the complexity of the style selected, paintings will take between 5 minutes and 24 hours.  The entire process will be recorded and broadcast over a live video feed on the site. The following time-lapse video shows the creation of an Einstein portrait made from a combination of bitPaintr's AI and my artistic direction.  This portrait took approximately 12 hours to complete.

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As shown in the following portraits of Einstein and Washington, paintings made by bitPaintr are complex, detailed, and messy. 

Einstein Portrait, 14"x18", Acrylic on Canvas
Einstein Portrait, 14"x18", Acrylic on Canvas
Washington Portrait, 18"x24", Acrylic on Canvas
Washington Portrait, 18"x24", Acrylic on Canvas

Once the robot finishes a portrait it will be signed and mailed to the individual that uploaded the image and the process will be complete.

Exhibitions

When contributors upload images, they will also have the option of including their portrait in a future art exhibition. To encourage selection of this option these portraits will be steeply discounted, possibly even sold at a loss. Furthermore, two portraits will be made from these submission.  The first will be sent to the volunteer as soon as it is completed and the second will be held for the show. Once I am able to collect enough of these portraits, I hope to put on several installations similar to the following mock-up.  

bitPaintr Installation
bitPaintr Installation

This installation will include bitPaintr, portraits of the volunteers, and multiple touchscreen tablets. The audience will be able to take picture of themselves with the tablets and the robot will immediately begin painting using its own artificial intelligence. Furthermore, an image of the photo being painted will appear on the tablets. Audience members will be able to trace strokes over this image to take control of the robot and paint along with it's AI.  

Rewards and Schedule

Though it will take time to create the website and finalize its functionality, the robot is almost operational and should be painting by the time this Kickstarter ends. Once this occurs, creation of the rewards will begin immediately and will be completed in the order that they are received. Most portraits should be ready for the holiday season.

Thanks to everyones support and recent publicity in the media, multiple venues have already begun contacting me to host a robot exhibition. It is not longer a matter of whether or not the exhibitions will happen, but where.

Thank you for your interest in the bitPaintr project and your help funding this project.  I appreciate your time and support.

Pindar Van Arman

Some Recent Photos:

If you are writing about this project, feel free to use any of following photos. 

Discover Channel Interview
Discover Channel Interview
Me Adding Water to the Paints by Craig Hudson
Me Adding Water to the Paints by Craig Hudson
Close Up of Robot Painting by Craig Hudson
Close Up of Robot Painting by Craig Hudson
Studio by Craig Hudson
Studio by Craig Hudson
Operating Robot with Tablet by Craig Hudson
Operating Robot with Tablet by Craig Hudson


Appendix:

The History and Inspiration behind bitPaintr

bitPaintr is the fifth painting robot that I have designed to paint with a brush on canvas over past ten years. Some of the artists and machines that I have drawn inspiration from include Harold Cohen's Aaron (1973), Ken Goldberg's The Telegarden (1995), and especially Matthew R. Stein's PumaPaint (2002).  Each of these projects were awesome and I suggest you check them out.

From my own work, bitPaintr will draw on my favorite aspects of my previous four robots. It will use artificial intelligence algorithms first developed for my original robot. 

Untitled Robot - My first painting robot in early 2006
Untitled Robot - My first painting robot in early 2006

It will be portable and interactive, like my second robot. 

Untitled Robot #2 at an installation.
Untitled Robot #2 at an installation.

It will have an open paint area so a camera can track and show progress, like my third.

Untitled Robot #3 - Extra large format with open viewable area.
Untitled Robot #3 - Extra large format with open viewable area.

And finally, from my fourth robot and most successful robot, Crowd Painter, it will have a public interface where anyone can join in and paint along with the robot’s AI.

Crowd Painter at Google's Made with Code Launch Event
Crowd Painter at Google's Made with Code Launch Event

Artistic robot's have been painting well for almost 50 years now with some recent projects achieving very sophisticated results.  bitPaintr is my latest contribution to the expanding field of artificial creativity and robotic art.

Risks and challenges

Technically, as demonstrated by success of previous robots and their current capabilities, I should have no problem matching the rewards I have listed for backers of this project. However, there are a couple of issues that I will need to address in next couple of months for bitPaintr to be successful.

1: The first challenge will be the details behind setting up the portrait submission website. This website needs to be as easy and intuitive to use as its commercial equivalents. Its not that this is technically hard, just that it will take a lot of time to do right.

2: The second challenge will be dealing with disruptive participants. The website will allow anyone to upload their portrait and automatically start painting it. The problem is that I am not sure how I will make sure that only portraits are uploaded. At this point their really is nothing preventing people from uploading other images including lewd and indecent ones.

3: A third challenge is that I do not yet have specific locations for additional exhibitions beyond the first international technology conference lined up. I believe that if this Kickstarter is successful, it will get the attention of various venues galleries and I will be invited to several more, but this is not guaranteed.

These three issues remain up in air and will be sorted out over next couple of months.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Digital print of one of the first paintings made by bitPaintr.

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    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    Signed Limited Edition Postcard (1 of 100) featuring one of the first paintings made by bitPaintr.

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the POSTCARD style on a 4"x6" canvas postcard.

    See an example of the POSTCARD style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the SKETCH style on a 8"x10" canvas panel.

    See an example of the SKETCH style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the CONTOUR style on a 11"x14" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the CONTOUR style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Your portrait in the Exhibition!

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the STANDARD style on a 14"x18" stretched canvas.

    A second painting made from your photo submission will also be featured and exhibited as part of a traveling installation.

    Selection of this reward implies you own copy and publicity rights to photograph submitted and give permission for its use in an exhibition.

    See an example of the STANDARD style in the description.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    2 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the SKETCH style on a 8"x10" canvas panel.

    See an example of the SKETCH style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 150 or more About US$ 150

    3 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the SKETCH style on a 8"x10" canvas panel.

    See an example of the SKETCH style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the STANDARD style on a 14"x18" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the STANDARD style in the description.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    2 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the CONTOUR style on a 11"x14" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the CONTOUR style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    3 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the CONTOUR style on a 11"x14" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the CONTOUR style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Your portrait painted by the robot in the DETAILED style on a 16"x20" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the DETAILED style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    2 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the STANDARD style on a 14"x18" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the STANDARD style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 600 or more About US$ 600

    3 PORTRAITS painted by the robot in the STANDARD style on a 14"x18" stretched canvas.

    See an example of the STANDARD style in the description.

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    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    I will bring bitPaintr and myself to any location in United States for a 2 day installation. This would preferably occur on a weekend though I will work with any sponsor generous enough to pledge this level of support.

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Funding period

- (30 days)