The life of Vincent van Gogh encapsulates, more than most, the themes of genius, mental unwellness, isolation and tragedy. His struggle with a mentality that was often self-destructive is as well known in popular culture as his brilliant and vibrant work. Specialists increasingly suggest most human progress occurred via different minds – there is a far higher than average prevalence of autism in the Science Technology Engineering & Manufacturing (STEM) workforce, some 20%. Here, a representation of one of Van Gogh’s most famous subjects, sunflowers, brings technology and creativity together in a fascinating juxtaposition.

Van Gogh 3D model SculptureThe artistic husband and wife team of Rob and Nick Carter have achieved a 3D printed replica of one of the versions of van Gogh’s sunflowers, translating a two-dimensional painting into a tangible fruition.

The structure was rendered from 2D and realised in 3D via a collaboration with MPC, a creative studio of international presence and renown, who has created visual wonders such as: the Harry Potter movie franchise; the awesome Prometheus by Ridley Scott – the best movie in the Alien series I would controversially suggest; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; as well as advertising campaigns for famous brands such as Samsung, Cadbury, Sony and Coca Cola.

The team of artists and designers began by creating a computer model of the base mesh to plan and plot volumetrics and form. Van Gogh’s brush-strokes were then adapted and added as 3D layers. The strokes themselves were replicated from the original painting using Pixologic’s ZBrush digital sculpting and painting program.

The final digital file was 3D printed using 3D Systems’ ‘visijet-x’ ABS like material on a 3D Systems’ Projet 3500. The final 3D form was cast in silicon bronze. The artwork is being exhibited right now at the Fine Art Society in London, UK, until the second of November.

Van Gogh 3D Printed Sculpture

To try your own hand at making 3D from 2D, a simple starting point is Autodesk’s 123D range, 123D Catch, 123D Design, 123D Make, and 123D Sculpt.