Mingling 3D Chalk Art and Emerging Technologies

By Anthony

November 8, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Taking a 400 year old artform and imagining the various directions it could grow towards is a truly fascinating process.

As a passionate chalk artist who gets to experiment and create throughout the world, I've decided to explore the possibilities that come with bringing animation into 3D illusionary designs of exciting complexity.

Having always been interested in creativity and conceptual ideas for my chalk art, I see technology as an accompaniment in my work, not as a gimmick and I have considered different ways to blend art and technology: My first concept consisted in bringing 3D chalk art projects from Art for After Hours into the persistent virtual world of Second Life though an avatar named Chalkfan Streeter. I was able to place images of 3D works on the floor surfaces of a virtual contemporary art opening as well as in a land rental that I used as a location for my own mini virtual street painting festival.

Anthony brought 3D chalk art to the persistent online world of Second Life, organizing public virtual art openings.

At this point, I began writing posts on my business blog: On 'The Business of Street Painting Art', I wrote about 3D chalk art in virtual spaces and how physical and virtual events have the potential to intersect and to allow audiences worldwide to experience the art both virtually and in real-time.

During that time, I became aware of the developing possibilities of augmented reality that went beyond superimposing images on live situations and began to seek out those who shared my interests. I used my business blog again as a place to express my thoughts on the blending of 3D chalk art with AR and published several articles on the concept. Learning about Kickstarter, I sought funding in order to bring AR to my 3D chalk art for a festival in Florida in 2011. Although the project didn't get fully funded, I did get in contact with the augmented reality specialists at Daqri who were excited about the prospect of mingling 3D chalk art and AR and helped me put an exhibition project together for the Florida festival in Sarasota.

Perched on the chalk-drawn branch of a tree overlooking a waterfall, Anthony shows a digital butterfly that just landed on his hand.

The 3D/AR piece, 'Visions of Cambodia', a 30'x40' artwork, was the very first animated AR piece done anywhere up to that time. I led a team of three to complete the chalk art in seven days at ten hours per day per person -- an experience that was both mentally and physically challenging. The folks at Daqri provided AR of moving butterflies and a hummingbird that flew to our hands while we posed within the artwork. The display drew the attention of thousands of people and led to media interviews with local outlets in the area. We used a dedicated app that went straight to my iPad to show viewers the unique interaction of humans, 3D animated models, and the traditional chalk art form blended together as a cohesive project concept.

The second time we used animated AR was during a demonstration over the New Years Holiday at the Indian Institute of Technology of Bombay during TechFest 2012. Here again, with help from my friends at Daqri, we added a flying robot (the IIT Bombay mascot) into my 3D chalk design of a futuristic city. The piece attracted thousands of engineering students who had never seen chalk art nor such a unique blend of art and technology Then last September, I was invited by the US State Department and the US Embassy in Montevideo to lecture, provide faculty/student workshops, and create a 3D chalk art piece at the Universidad de La Republica. That week was filled with media interviews, events, and lots of 3D chalk art. I also was invited to meet with regional animators who had heard about my particular interest. It was a great experience, and I learned that I am far from being alone in my quest of experimentation with art/technology.

Finally, last summer, amidst all these exciting events, Mixamo got in touch with me when Art for After Hours sent an artist to do some 3D chalk art for me at Siggraph 2012 for NVIDIA. The Mixamo Team shares my curiosity towards bringing animation into the 3D chalk/illusionary art and is eager to work with me to experiment with the concept. I am very excited about this, believing strongly that bringing animation, AR, and the 3D chalk/illusionary art that I do through Art for After Hours can be translated into diverse project types - live events, streamed events, entertainment, gaming, multimedia, and of course open to the newest concepts that our team can coordinate for discerning exceptional clients who want to go beyond the current plateau with 3D street illusions currently in the marketplace.

Here's an example of what we can do together:

Crossing over: 3D Chalk Art and Digital Art meet in this image showing of two Mixamo characters within one of Anthony's artwork. Crossing over: 3D Chalk Art and Digital Art meet in this image showing of two Mixamo characters within a piece of Anthony's artwork.

I'm very excited about working with Mixamo and I can't wait to explore all the possibilities that will come from our combined passion for art and creativity.


Anthony Cappetto is an internationally known 3D/AR chalk artist and founder of Art for After Hours in 2001. Art for After Hours is the first professional chalk art company developing projects for corporate and exhibition clients in the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas. Additionally in 2007, co-founder of Innovative Street Painting Group, Inc., a company specializing in the development of hybrid street painting media, events, sponsorship, and entertainment.

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