Digitally Reproducing

Leonardo da Vinci’s Early Works in

3D Interactive Models

with the Multi-Shot

Reproducing some of Leonardo da Vinci’s early sketches as digital versions, the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna used the H6D-400c Multi-Shot in combination with their own developed software, ISLe (InSight Leonardo), to create 3D models of these art pieces that are hundreds of years old. These digital renderings hold immense detail, including the true colours of Leonardo’s drawings, the different shades of ink, chalk and metal points, and even the feel of the paper’s fragile surface. Andrea Ballabeni, a research member who is responsible for software development in the Dept. of Architecture at the university, tells us all about how this extremely valuable tool aids art curators and history experts in analysing the work of Leonardo da Vinci even further.


What are some of the hardest elements when it comes to reproducing fine art using photography?

Reproducing fine art through photography is always a challenging task. It becomes extremely complex when dealing with Leonardo da Vinci’s works. Drawings, sketches and drafts were often drawn on fragile paper sheets smaller than an A4. Strokes are extremely thin and sharp, traced with pen and ink, red and black chalk and metal points. Despite their size, the amount of detail is massive.

Using the Multi-Shot camera, how did the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna create a 3D rendering of da Vinci’s work?

Our research team developed a technique, called ISLe (InSight Leonardo), which is able to acquire an artwork in a non-invasive way and reproduce it digitally in a 3D model. The rendering, in addition to being three-dimensional, not only faithfully reproduces the colours of the drawing but also the surface irregularities, roughness and ink specularities. To represent Leonardo’s works, we wanted to reach a resolution of 50-microns and use state of the art techniques for colour reproduction accuracy. 

This technique involves taking multiple high-resolution images in special lighting conditions. The multiplicity of the images is then used to build the surface map of the drawing and the three-dimensional shape of the sheet. Once the 3D model has been produced and the artwork reproduction projected on it, it can be easily controlled with touch screen computers by means of a simple user interface.


What criteria must be considered for the technique of digitally recreating these art pieces to be effective?

This technique lies on two paradigms. The first one is ‘to be able to feel as if the drawing is in your hands’. It means that the digital model needs to be easy to explore, study and interact with on a touch panel with simple known gestures like pinch to zoom, or moving your hand on the screen to pan, rotate or even flip the sheet – the same gestures that we use daily on our phones.

The second one is ‘show what is not visible to the naked eye’. These drawings are kept in safe places, generally inaccessible by visitors. Reliable, interactable copies of them represent a great opportunity both for the experts, who want to study and better understand these works, and for merely curious people.

Most importantly, in order to be effective, this technique is highly influenced by the quality of the photographs both in terms of resolution and colour fidelity.

We found the Multi-Shot was just perfect for our needs. Leonardo’s originals have been shot at 23200 x 17400 pixels allowing us to reach (and overtake) the 50-microns resolution that we wanted to reach. Besides, the sensor ability to capture colours is amazing. To measure the colour accuracy of the reproduction we used an X-Rite ColourChecker Classic, and exploiting our in-house software called SHAFT for the colour correction, we reached an average ΔE00 error of about 0.89. It is a result that is largely the best we have reached in our 20 years of experience in the field.

Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda

Expanding their Visual Universe with the 907X 50C

Drawing inspiration from Hasselblad’s long legacy, creative duo and Hasselblad Ambassadors Anna Devís and Daniel Rueda tried out the new 907X 50C to create imagery that celebrates some of Hasselblad’s most renowned features. Expanding on their own visual universe – including a cloning situation, blending in with a record player, and mapping out their own constellations – each of the photographs give a nod to the camera’s long-lasting build, classic design, and innovation behind the technology that also led to working with NASA.

Read more

Adam Weist

Adventuring Through the Subtropical Rainforests and Active Volcanoes of New Zealand

As the world turned upside down for many in March 2020, Los Angeles-based photographer Adam Weist found himself removed from it all on the other side of the world in the middle of New Zealand’s magical scenery. Shooting with the X1D II 50C in wild conditions ranging from the middle of a downpour in subtropical rainforests to a snowstorm on an active volcano, Adam’s images expose the beauty of the country and transport us to a landscape photographer’s dream.

Read more

Sven Baum

Cinematically Documenting Newborn Life with the XV Adapter

For almost a year, self-taught photojournalist Sven Baum has been documenting the life of his first newborn daughter, Romy. Steering away from posed, stiff baby portraits, Sven uses the X1D, various XCD lenses, and the XV Adapter with Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm and Distagon 50mm lenses and a 21mm extension tube to capture cinematically cut and color graded imagery that tells an honest story about growing.

Read more

Simon Norfolk’s Lost Capital


Suddenly stripped of its usual hustle and bustle, cars and trucks, and the constant foot traffic of locals and tourists alike, Simon Norfolk unearthed a new side of London with the X1D II. Getting lost in the sharp lines and curves of the buildings that are usually concealed by the city’s hyperactivity, all its glorious architecture shone forth like never before. The only faces Simon met were those of the bronze sculptures of England’s past. The only sounds he heard in the normally busy Piccadilly Circus were the songs of blackbirds.

Read more

Stephen Sweeney

Family Portraits in a Time of Lockdown

Living in London, freelance photographer Stephen Sweeney is used to rushing around the metropolitan city on shoots. Now, for over a month, he has been confined to his home. In lockdown with his four brothers and his parents, he keeps his creative juices afloat by capturing beautifully lit portraits of his six family members with X1D II 50C.

Read more

Pål Hansen

Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, and other Hollywood Faces on Hasselblad

Norwegian photographer Pål Hansen has photographed an immense list of actors, musicians, and other notable celebrities. With his reputation of making anyone feel at ease in front of his Hasselblad camera, Pål always comes away with a unique story of his own about how it is to photograph these star subjects.

Read more

Dominique Provost

Preserving Pedro de Mena’s 17th Century Sculptures

with the Multi-Shot

Using the Hasselblad Multi-Shot system, Dominique Provost had the opportunity to photograph Spanish baroque sculptor Pedro de Mena’s collection of six hyper-realistic 17th century sculptures. These photographs will be of monumental importance for art conservation, future restoration, digitalization, and if necessary, reproduction of these historical pieces.

Read more

Roger Fishman

Narwhals, Icebergs, and the Extreme Landscapes of Greenland

Taking to the skies to capture Greenland from above, Roger Fishman created the largest fine art collection of the island’s extreme remote beauty, entitled Ephemeral & Eternal: Greenland. Collaborating with scientists and hoping to activate the public, Roger’s photographs reveal what is at stake and what we must work to preserve for the future of our planet.

Read more