Artist Uses AI To Recreate How Famous Historical Figures Would Look Like in Real Life

Have you ever wondered what famous figures from the distant past really looked like? San Francisco-based artist Nathan Shipley answers the question with his series of AI-generated portraits. He uses historical paintings and illustrations as the framework for AI technology to create realistic renditions of notable leaders, musicians, and writers who all existed before the advent of photography.

Shipley transforms painted portraits—or in the case of Benjamin Franklin, his image on the $100 bill—into three-dimensional faces that look like you could reach out and touch them. They include characteristics absent from the source materials, such as wrinkles and freckles. The addition of these attributes is vital in making these iconic folks feel real.

To craft these alluring images, Shipley has taken advantage of the strides made in artificial intelligence. “There are some fascinating developments in the realm of using AI to generate imagery—everything from these realistic face recreations to beautiful generative abstract art,” he tells My Modern Met. “Coming from an animation and visual effects background, I love to explore creating things that were previously impossible. We are really just at the beginning of seeing what people will create using machine learning tools.”

Since the AI is creating these portraits using certain parameters, models, and datasets, the results can vary with just a few adjustments to the variables. However, this challenge of finding the perfect fit is part of the fun for Shipley. “In creating this work, the journey is really the destination,” he says. “The process of learning, experimenting, and making is often more exciting than the finished result.”

Scroll down to see history reimagined. Then, learn more about AI art by visiting Shipley’s website and keep up to date with his latest projects by following the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Artist Nathan Shipley uses AI technology to create realistic portraits of historical figures.

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

“Mona Lisa”

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

George Washington

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Marie Antoinette

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Marie Antoinette

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Ludwig van Beethoven

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Johann Sebastian Bach

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Queen Elizabeth I (13 years old)

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Queen Elizabeth I (40 years old)

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Queen Elizabeth I (62 years old)

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

William Shakespeare

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Henry VII

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Henry VIII

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Anne Bolyen

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Mary Tudor, AKA “Bloody Mary”

Historical AI Portraits by Nathan Shipley

Edward VI

Nathan Shipley: Website | Instagram | Twitter

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Nathan Shipley.

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