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logoIf we played a word association game regarding Vincent van Gogh, it would be fairly predictable. Van Gogh? Ear. Gone by razor. Best artwork? Starry Night. Turbulence accompanied by nightmarish light, yielding splendid—yet scary—dramatic color. Obviously, from the hand of such an incredibly prolific painter, the world remembers Starry Night in particular with good reason, as a vivid personal expression allowing us to peek into the mental landscape of one of history’s most tortured artists—and undeniably one of the very greatest too.

And now, Custom Prototypes, Inc. wants you to take one step further and associate one of the Dutch master’s greatest masterpieces with 3D printing too, seeing how they made an effort to understand his work, and the technique behind it, more comprehensively than ever before. Their efforts did not go unnoticed either—their 3D Printed Starry Night, a 3/4 scale replica, won them first place for the Advanced Finishing category of the Technical Competition at the AMUG conference in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 5th. That particular category is interesting and unique as AMUG has taken the time to focus on designers they see as often being overlooked despite superior finishing techniques.

The original Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The original Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

“The designers and engineers may hatch a concept, but it is often the parts finishers, model makers, painters and others that bring a prototype to life,” states the AMUG team on their page regarding the competition.

While most of us take in a work like Starry Night and are struck by the intensity and strangeness of it all, culminating in such unique beauty, the team at Custom Prototypes was focused on how van Gogh actually went about painting it. And with their re-creation, we in turn focus on their technique, which was the result of a ‘scrupulous analysis’ of a high resolution image of the famous painting. The team then made a CAD file, focusing on van Gogh’s priming technique which used economical gesso to create a sculpting texture and prime the canvas before application of color.

During 3D printing, the topography file became solid, and according to the Custom Prototypes team, they were able to accurately copy van Gogh’s use of texture thanks to their use of their large format, high definition SLA 3D printer. Upon creating the image, the team then began working on their specialty in creative finishing. They consulted the experts here too, and brought in a professional art restorer to help them with imitating van Gogh’s oil painting style.

“Again undertaking a thorough analysis of the original piece, many hours were spent reproducing virtually every point and color on the surface,” said the Custom Prototypes team in their press release. “Final aging and a vernix coat were applied to the artwork to bring the painting to life.”

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Framing of course is one of the most important aspects for any piece of art, and especially in adding the final finishing touch.

“To achieve the total effect, the ‘canvas’ had to be protected by a period frame,” states the team from Custom Prototypes.

Indeed taking this project from beginning to end with 3D printing, the designers were able to 3D scan and then 3D print a 19th century European impressionist frame. Showing their talents in post processing once again, they then finished it using paint, gold leaf, and aging techniques.

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See the sculpted texture that was recreated in the 3D printed Starry Night.

Custom Prototypes shared a video of the process with us, which is well worth checking out below. If you are an appreciator of art—and especially van Gogh—you too might find yourself wanting to reach out for this reproduction to hang on your own walls—the only question is where one puts this highly ‘emotional’ painting—would you want to wake up and go to sleep with a 3D printed Starry Night or ponder it over dinner and dessert in the dining room? Most of us, while appreciating this work enormously, might only want it in daily small doses. It’s certainly easy to see, however, why this company won first place for their efforts—as well as why it is valuable to look more closely at the finishing process.

2016_tech_comp_awardWhile there are certainly many out there today, Custom Prototypes could hardly be called a startup. This Canadian company, headquartered in Toronto, was founded in 1995. Today they are a small, but highly respected 3D printing and prototype service bureau—and winning again at AMUG certainly didn’t hurt either!

If you send them a design, they will not only 3D print it for you but will also completely finish it in terms of assembly and painting too. Along with producing prints and prototypes, they also use vacuum forming technology at their headquarters, a process which is becoming more popular. If you don’t have a completed concept, drawing, or file, they will set you up with one of their designers so that your project comes to fruition.

Custom Prototypes caters to industries such as automotive and aviation, medical, film, consumer products, and much more. You can find out more about their most recent AMUG award here. Also, see the video of their process below, which demonstrates how they employed all of the technologies and benefits of 3D–from scanning to CAD processing to SLA 3D printing. It’s fascinating to see the process here, as well as viewing the incredibly impressive results. Do you enjoy using 3D printing in art? Discuss in the 3D Printed Starry Night forum over at 3DPB.com.

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