Voxel Printed Galleries (2020)

Voxel Printed Galleries (2020)

Joseph Coddington

Adding depth to classical art through 3D Voxel based printing

Throughout history artists have explored existing and emerging technologies to improve and advance their creative visions. For example, improvements of brushes were followed by explorations of brush techniques, adding or eliminating texture and creating varying levels of 3 dimensionality. Currently art galleries and museums upload digital images of art and artefacts to reach a worldwide audience while providing a virtual platform for interaction; allowing users to experience these online objects in exciting ways. All of these digital items are – through the scanning process-  simplified, reduced versions of the original art works, not having been able for example to preserve the 3 dimensional aspect of brush strokes in oil paintings. This becomes even more prominent when taking into account that up until now, we have been only able to print anything onto another 2 dimensional medium, paper. Using 3D printing technology creatively any 3D characteristics of an artwork can be retained or enhanced and turned into a multi-dimensional and tactile new piece of art.

The research for Joseph’s Master’s submission explores the potential use of voxel printing for the visual arts. Generated from the inherent data of the paintings, a tangible crafted object can convey a new sense of depth and expanded understanding of the art work itself. The outcome of this research is a series of voxel prints completed on the Stratasys J750, which cover a range of image depth possibilities and voxel printing methods.

Online uploads are not just increasing at a faster rate of upload but at a higher quality. By taking these digital representations of physical objects, such as digital images of paintings, we can import them into computer-based editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Here the digital files have the advantage of a near-endless degree of freedom as users can edit the image, such as changing their shape, colour and size. Software such as Adobe Photoshop allows designers to preview designs in a digital space before realising the design in a physical space.

Artworks can be broken down into a series of images, where each layer in this series may represent only a small amount of visual data. This process of breaking down an image used within this research is called de-constructive imaging and can be seen with artworks such as The Gust. This is just one technique which showcases the freedom when editing images digitally. By taking advantages of the digital degrees of freedom, we can render the digital object in a physical state through the method of 3D printing, and in particular voxel printing.

While this research focused on existing pieces of art, it paves the way for modern artists transposing their 2 dimensional art into a tactile 3 dimensional reality and creating a whole new set of art experiences. Using paintings as data-set for voxel printing provides a bridge from design and 3D printing to art history, art, and artefact museums, who can benefit from this added quality of knowing.

Materials and Processes


Adobe Photoshop, GrabCAD Print


Stratasys J750 printer, Vero clear and full colour

Project level

Master of Design Innovation (MDI) thesis, supervisor Ross Stevens

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