It takes years of practice and intense concentration to master the art of painting, or if you’re a welding robot, just some really good programming. In a studio at the University of Konztanz in Germany just such a robot is dabbing its brush in paint as it works. The robot is called e-David, and it can reproduce any work of art it’s shown.A welding robot is actually a good choice for a makeshift artist. These robot arms have three degrees of freedom in order to precisely aim a torch at bits of metal. It can just as easily be programmed to point a paintbrush at canvases as an arc welder at car doors. Researchers have given e-David a palette of 24 colors to work with, and it does okay for a robot.The process of reproducing a work of art begins with e-David taking a picture. It processes the image and estimates which brushstrokes will be best to recreate the original. The robot makes tiny, almost hesitant lines with the brush, but it’s just the meticulous nature of the approach. Every few minutes, e-David takes a picture of what it has so far. That image is compared to the original, and the program determines which brushstrokes will minimize the difference.There are some limitations to e-David’s reproductions, though. It can only work in acrylic paint right now because it dries quickly, which is essential to the layered, corrective brushstrokes the robot uses. It also needs to have the same amount of paint on the brush at all times for the algorithms to properly estimate what changes to make. As a result, e-David has to make a stroke off to the side each time it dips the brush. That’s the grid of lines you see on the right of the canvas in parts of the video.The team is interested in improving e-David’s programming, especially when it comes to color. Predicting in code how two pigments will mix on a canvas is tough. Maybe one day a welding robot will be showing at an art gallery, but not yet.