Ideas for papers and projects
CS 99D - The Science of Art
This web page will continue to be updated after it is handed out in class.
Winter Quarter, 2000
Reproduce one of Brunneleschi's panels, now lost, in which he
demonstrated to his amazed contemporaries his ability to construct correct
linear perspective views. Kemp's book tells you how.
Model and render the 3D scene corresponding to a famous painting. Use a
commercially available modeling and rendering system such as SoftImage or
Alias/Maya; we have these software packages in our laboratory. For an extra
kick, script, render, and record on video a flyaround of the scene.
Alternatively, convert it into a form that can be navigated interactively on
one of our high-performance graphics workstations. Beware: many paintings do
not have a single, consistent 3D interpretation!
Write a RenderMan shader that implements a nonphotorealistic rendering
style. Although not really programming per se, this project does require
some understanding of programming language constructs. For some fun, try to
mimic the style of a famous artist. Can you draw pictures that exhibit
Leonard's sfumato, or Durer's hatchings? How about Monet's
brushstrokes? Can you render our 3D computer model of Michelangelo's David in
a way that makes it look like his Sistine Chapel paintings? Or like his
Program a tone reproduction operator that squeezes the large dynamic
range of a synthetically rendered image into the limited dynamic range of a
particular artist's media. Use a canned renderer to generate the images, Try
your operator on hard scenes, like a moonlit scene or a sunlit scene with
deep shadows. For extra credit, implement an operator that employs local
contrast effects to extend the dynamic range of the media, as artists do. See
me for some references to the graphics literature.
The recent cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling suggests that
Michelangelo, rather than employing the Renaissance discovery
that shadows should be dark, tending toward black, instead adhered to medieval
tradition, in which shadows were fully saturated with color. If correct, then
this radically changes our view of Michelangelo and his art. If, on the other
hand, we have cleaned away Michelangelo's intended tones, as some critics
claim, then we have ruined his masterpiece forever.
Read one of the many books
about the cleaning.
Then read James Beck's scathing condemnation of it in
Art Restoration: the Culture, the Business, and the Scandal. Who is
Trace the scientific and artistic history of some optical theme that we
did not cover in class, such as motion blur or depth of field. If you choose
motion blur, don't forget to talk about its use in cartoon animation. If you
choose depth of field, don't forget to talk about the invention of photography
and its effect on our expectations about art.
Trace the history of some category of artist's tools, such as pigments,
brushes, or sculpting chisels. When were the key technological advances? What
effect did they have on art?
Build and demonstrate one of the artist's perspective drawing aids
described in M. Kemp's The Science of Art. Choose wisely. Some of
them are too easy; others are too hard. I'm happy to help you select one.
Build a display model of one of the 3D color systems described in M. Kemp's
The Science of Art. Use any color reproduction medium you like to
make the chips; a color ink-jet printer might work well.
For more ideas, look at the final projects from the last two years. The URLs
For a good example of a project that we placed online, look at: David
Anderson's "Perspective Assistant". The URL is
Copyright © 2000 Marc Levoy
February 13, 2000 11:25:59 PM