Pointillism

Posted October 16, 1999 at 2:23 am No Comments
Pointillism is a style of painting that was popular among the French Neo-Impressionists of the late 19th century.  It involves the practice of applying small strokes or dots of contrasting pigment to a surface so that from a distance the dots blend together into solid forms.In a sense, this is what a computer does every time it draws an image using colored pixels.  But because pixels are so small, computer monitors don’t give us that gentle Neo-Impressionist feel.

After admiring the paintings of Seruat and Pissarro, and inspired by this clever painting tool, I decided that I would try to design an image processing filter that lent computer pictures a pointillist quality.


Detail from “Entrée du port de Honfleur”
by Georges Seurat.  Oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm.

The filter simply samples random pixels from the image buffer and draws them at a larger size over the original image until a new image is formed.  The results are reasonably good: the picture on the right is a computer-generated pointillist self-portrait.

One of the computers in my lab has a video capture card, so I wrote a program that grabs frames from the card and processes them on the fly.  The result is a weird sort of pointillist movie, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.  Perhaps I’ll submit a clip to the student film festival.


I’m no Monet, but I can BitBlt like nobody’s business.


Four frames demonstrating the pointillization process.

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