Odds and quads

These artworks were created by The Painting Fool, a program that "aspires to be an artist". The software was developed by Simon Colton, Michel Valstar and Maja Pantic, computer scientists at Imperial College London.

Graphic software such as Photoshop can create what looks like an Impressionist painting from a photograph almost instantly. The Painting Fool, by contrast, attempts to reproduce the process of painting. It does so by filming an object, splitting the image into regions of colour and simulating how a person might paint each area. It also imitates the effects of media such as chalk and acrylic.

Dr Pantic and Dr Valstar developed a system to enable the program to recognise emotions by scanning the facial muscles captured by images.

It has honed its skills, like generations of art students, by attempting to copy the Old Masters. It also produced these "emotionally enhanced portraits" of Meera Senthilingam, producer of the BBC radio programme The Naked Scientists.

The results, which can be seen online, won a British Computer Society Machine Intelligence Award in 2007.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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