Project showcase
Caravaggio, A Drawing Machine

Caravaggio, A Drawing Machine © GPL3+

Caravaggio is a drawing machine able to replicate a digital image using a pen and a continuous line.

  • 175 respects

Components and supplies

SparkFun microSD Shield
Or another hardware that allows you to use an SD card
Nema%2017 2
OpenBuilds NEMA 17 Stepper Motor
Adafruit Motor Shield V2
Or another hardware that allows you to drive 2 stepper motors
Toothed belt and pulley
Ph a000066 iso (1) ztbmubhmho
Arduino UNO

Apps and online services

73318 301258139977848 644841747 n
It's an open source library for image processing. Based on C++ (also for python). There is also a wrapper for processing.
GSL (GNU scientific library)
It's an open source library for many useful things. Personally, I used the library for statistical and linear algebra function.
Ide web
Arduino IDE

About this project

Caravaggio, a Drawing Machine

An algorithm for art

Caravaggio is a machine that realizes a drawing starting from a digital image, entirely using a pen.

At the beginning the idea was to build a pen plotter DIY, a particular type of printer that writes using a marking pen. From here, the initiative has took another way, getting closer the scene of the maker that works using specific computer algorithm.

In this fashion the goal, is not only to create something interesting from the technical point, but to hang also the artistic side, detaching from the objective of a printing and recalling rather the feature of a freehand drawing.

Caravaggio is composed of two parts: the first, the software, is concerned of a program made in C++ that analyzes the digital image and creates a single line that form the entire illustration; the second, the hardware, is the one that realizes materially the the drawing and consists of two little steppers, driven from an Arduino UNO board with an Adafruit Motor Shield and a Sparkfun SD Shield, that allow the pen itself to slide on the paper without disconnecting.

The machine, for now, works supported by an easel in the vertical position - in the same fashion in which a painter would draw - on a drawing paper.

The time to complete an illustration depends from the density of the stroke choose during the image elaboration. Generally, it goes for 12 to 24 hours of work, as is shown on the videos, and it grows with the size and the concentration of black desired.

Despite the versatility of the machine, it is suitable with sophisticated tips and inks as the china one (used in the drawing of the video). A point of straight of Caravaggio is just that it can reach great results just using a simple ballpoint pen as a Bic.

The entire project is updated on the facebook page:

I hope to achieve soon a brief tutorial on the Arduino part. Here's two videos that illustrates the project. The first shows how it is now; the second one shows how it was at the beginning of my experience:

My father seen by Caravaggio, a Drawing Machine. Video by: Marco Tronconi

Caravaggio at the beginning


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