Computer Graphics World

September/October 2014

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s e p t e m b e r . o c t o b e r 2 0 1 4 c g w 2 9 M O D E L I N G . 3 D P R I N T I N G im Jenison is many things, but a paint- er he is not. While Jenison is well versed in computer graphics, his art experience is limited to a class he took in high school. Yet recently, he was able to paint a masterpiece – in a manner of speaking. He was putting a theory to the test, that Johannes Vermeer did in fact use some kind of instru- mentation when painting such works as The Milkmaid, The Astronomer, and The Music Lesson. And it appears that Jenison just may have solved one of the art world's greatest mysteries, using LightWave 3D in his processes that led to that conclusion. Vermeer was a painter like no other in the 1600s. Even today, art critics and observers alike marvel and speculate at the Dutch master's ability to capture his subjects in photo- realistic detail, creating a world on canvas that was more per- fect than the naked eye can see. Some believe Vermeer used a camera obscura (a darkened enclosure with a lens mounted on the side) to paint his sub- jects, which would explain why many of his paintings were set within the same two rooms of his home. However, no proof of this has ever been uncovered. A book on the subject piqued the interest of NewTek's founder, an inventor/entrepreneur/engineer, who decided to look at this debate through a different type of lens, literally. Aer testing his theory, with LightWave 3D at the heart of his experimen- tation, Jenison just may have solved this centuries-old puzzle. Jenison's theory and pro- cesses were documented as they played out live and later became the subject matter for the 2013 feature documentary Tim's Vermeer, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. F O R M I N G A H Y P O T H E S I S Vermeer's work focused on domestic middle-class Dutch life and oen featured a woman performing everyday activities from a small room in his house in Del, with many of the same objects and decorations pres- ent in various arrangements in each painting. A large window is situated on the le side of the room, with a large back wall usually behind the subjects, who are positioned near the window in each tableau. Jenison is particularly familiar with television lighting, and from experience knows that the human eye is very poor at accurately discerning varying gradients on a large, white/ beige flat area, like the back wall in Vermeer's paintings. "It's like video compression. The retina squeezes a lot of information down the optic nerve, so you lose a sense of absolute bright- ness from the compression," he explains. Thus, we can deter- mine variations of light and dark on a white wall, but we cannot see them accurately. But, Ver- meer painted them accurately. "He nailed it every single time he painted one of these walls, and none of his contemporaries did," he adds. That is why Jenison believed Vermeer may have used some type of instrumen- tation to aid in his painting. "I was immediately drawn to the gradient on the wall, which ranges from very bright against the windows to very dark against the far corner," Jenison recalls aer visiting the Rijks museum in Amsterdam and viewing some of Vermeer's work on display there. But, the variations were more apparent in a small reproduction he saw in a book, attributing his back- ground in graphics as the reason he noticed this. "Vermeer paint- ed the wall accurately and no one else really painted like that because no one else could see it like that. Vermeer's paintings look like photographs. It seemed he had figured out a way to paint on top of a projection, at Art Historian NEWTEK'S TIM JENISON USES LIGHTWAVE/3D PRINTING TO HELP UNCOVER VERMEER'S SECRET PAINTING TECHNIQUE BY KAREN MOLTENBREY JENISON TESTS HIS THEORY BY PAINTING A PHOTOGRAPH USING MIRRORS BEFORE TACKLING THE VERMEER.

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