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Erin Hanson is Revolutionizing Art Reproduction

Textured art reproduction is tricky.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Art reproduction is tricky. The goal of art reproduction is to copy an existing work as precisely as possible. Artwork that is relatively flat can be beautifully captured with a high-resolution photograph or scan. I once looked at an original watercolor painting and a photo of the same piece printed onto watercolor paper, and I could not tell the difference between the two, even with my eyes two inches away. The resolution of modern ink-jet printers keeps getting higher and higher, so you no longer see dots or pixels on a printed art reproduction. Assuredly, we have conquered the world of 2D art reproduction.

Now we face the question, how do you create a faithful reproduction of a textured work of art, like an impasto oil painting or an acrylic painting built up with lots of textured gesso medium? You can take a photograph of the painting and print it onto canvas, but photographing a painting fails to show the extraordinary depth and beauty of the work because, as Erin Hanson says: "With a two-dimensional print, the print is stuck in the lighting in which it was photographed."

For a textured painting, the play of light over the texture of brushstrokes is a vital piece of how we interact with and enjoy a piece of art. This is why a paper art print looks flat compared to an original oil painting. A video of a painting can re-capture the beauty of the work by filming the piece in changing light, like in a van Gogh immersive experience, but such reproductions are an art in themselves, and you cannot take them home with you or hang them on your wall.

So, how to solve the problem of re-creating the texture and motion of a painting as intended by the artist?

This is where 3D scanning and printing comes in.

In a recent interview, Erin Hanson shared how the process works:

"I was searching for a better way of photographing my paintings, and I stumbled upon this very high-tech type of scanner that photographs the painting at an angle from above instead of putting the painting face down onto a scanner bed -- which not only has terrible light but also damages the painting."

"The 3D scanner creates a texture map of the painting by tightly controlling the light being cast onto the painting, and it measures the length of the shadows being cast by each of these little ridges in the paint. Based on the length of the shadow, it can extrapolate the height of the paint strokes," Hanson continues.

"With a two-dimensional print, the print is stuck in the lighting in which it was photographed. With a three-dimensional print, the shadows are cast by the light in the room in which the print is hanging," said Hanson.

Many micro-layers of ink are slowly built up and cured with UV light until an exact replica of the original is re-created, including the fine detail of every brush stroke, and even re-creating the texture of the canvas itself.

The result? A replica that looks and feels almost exactly like an original oil painting.

The final piece contains the texture of each brushstroke as laid down by the artist, allowing it to interact with the surrounding light rather than being stuck in the light in which it was photographed.

3D scanning and printing technology are revolutionizing the field of art reproduction and helping collectors and art lovers worldwide to be part of something new.

As Amy, Erin Hanson's longstanding Marketing Manager, says:

"You take this person who's passionate about art, you take this person who wants to be surrounded and wants to be a part of something special, and you show them these 3D textured replicas. Their jaws hit the floor. It's the 'aha' moment for them.… You show them a 3D textured replica, and they say, 'There's the texture, there's the motion, there's the movement.' It interacts with its environment, and it interacts in their home. It makes them happy. They get to be part of something that's extra special."

The result of the 3D scanning and printing process is an accurate reproduction with the look and feel of an original oil painting, without the cost of an original work of art.

Erin Hanson shares: "We all have these moments in our lives where we felt deeply connected to nature. Maybe a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or standing on a cliff on California's Highway 1, looking out over the waters and being immersed in the sounds and light and the movement of the landscape. That's what my paintings are all about. It's capturing that feeling of being out of doors and that spiritual connection with nature -- that's what I want to capture in my paintings.

"These 3D prints are a very accurate reproduction of my original oil paintings. They capture all the texture of the brushstrokes. They even capture the canvas texture that I painted on. From a couple of feet away, you can't really tell the difference between the prints and the original."

Explore Erin Hanson's 3D textured replicas here. Or, if you are interested in the scanning and printing process, read the articles we've written about 3D printing. You can also come into The Erin Hanson Gallery and get a tour. We will show you the scanner and the printing area to get a sense of the scale and see 3D textured replicas firsthand.


Erin Hanson ArtistERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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