Friday, July 1, 2016

How Renaissance Artists Created Star Wars

The concepts and formalizations developed by Renaissance painters influenced ideas and techniques used in modern computer graphics. When early renaissance painters began trying to convey three-dimensional scenes on two-dimensional planes, much of their technique was derived from intuition. The correct formal conception of linear perspective was not discovered (in the West) until 1413, by Filippo Brunelleschi (Vesna, 2012). Brunelleschi's work presumably influenced the work of Piero de la Francesca who, likely between 1472 and 1475, wrote De prespectiva pingendi, a treatise on geometrical perspective outlining the three principal parts of painting: drawing, proportions, and coloring (Vesna, 2012; “De prospectiva...”)

Source: “De prospectiva...”
The concepts developed by Francesca directly mirror the fundamental stages in the computer graphics pipeline needed to produce digital images: construction, transformation, and shading. The construction stage, where geometric primitives like points and triangles are placed in two-dimensional space, is analogous to the principal of drawing. The transformation stage, where the digital world and camera are altered to produce perspective via three-dimensional matrix transformations, is analogous to the principal of proportions. And the shading stage, where individual pixels are assigned color and given texture, is analogous to the principal of coloring. (For an introduction to the computer graphics pipeline, see:

The creativeness of the human imagination coupled with the power of computer graphics enables entire worlds to be built and shared with the masses. The wonders achievable are best illustrated by George Lucas' Star Wars franchise. Lucas not only directed the world-renowned film, but also conceived and wrote it – a wholly artistic feat. (For a history of Star Wars, see: Without the advances and formalizations of the mathematics of art in the Early Renaissance, computer graphics would not exist, and without computer graphics, Star Wars would not have been possible.

  Source: TheTrailerGal

Since the release of Star Wars, computer graphics have advanced light years (humor me). We are now able to create entirely digital worlds with all of the richness and wonder of our physical world. The animated blockbusters continuously released by Pixar are testament to the power of the juxtaposition of art, technology, and mathematics. 

Source: TED


TED. “The magic ingredient that brings Pixar movies to life | Danielle Feinberg.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 28 Apr, 2016. 1 July 2016.

TheTrailerGal. “Star Wars (1977) Original Trailer.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 24 Apr 2010. Web. 1 July 2016.

De prospectiva pingendi” Aboca Museum. Aboca Museum, n.d. Web. 1 July 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. “Mathematics-pt1-ZeroPerspectiveGoldenMean.” Math+Art Lecture. Online. 1 July 2016. Online Lecture.

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