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Reimagining Claude Monet's Water Lilies in depth and light by Joseph Coddington

In the last 30 years of his life, Claude Monet painted a series of 250 oil paintings of water lilies at his home in Giverny. The series became the french impressionist painter’s masterpiece and is revered the world over for its use of color, understanding of light and depth, and panoramic display. In homage to the famous water lilies, Designer Joseph Coddington combines Monet’s techniques with modern 3D printing technology to turn the 2D illusion of depth into a real three-dimensional object.

Water Lilies, Claude Monet, 1914-26

The core design question for Coddington lies in: How can 3D printing be used to design the physical depth of images to provide a craft-based articulation of knowledge found within images?

To turn the flat paintings into 3D objects, Coddington adapted a technique inspired by both Claude Monet and Gerhard Richter using a layer-by-layer method, in which each paint layer blends with previous ones. Using reflexive thematic analysis, Coddington investigated the possibilities of the layers, gained an understanding, intuition, and a repertoire of images to make 3D printing design decisions, and then used Photoshop, digitally painting abstracted interpretations of Monet's art.

An illustration of the layer-by-layer digital painting by Joseph Coddington

Coddington constructed 15 layers through digital painting, with each one having color applied in a digitally improvised way based on observing Monet’s original work. "I would point out that a voxel printing trend is the use of images with objective data, such as CT scans. Objective images lend themselves well to research, as they become easy to draw scientific conclusions from. However, when using subjective images such as paintings where the image data can be far from objective, then the conclusions also become less objective."

The voxel print has similar visual features to both the original painting and the digital painting. By retaining an overall visual articulation of Monet’s Water Lilies, the voxel print infuses the theme of peace within the crafted object, for it has a smooth tactile nature, based on the hard digital materials it is constructed from, separating its tactile nature from the original painting and the depicted pond. Now a crafted object, the images expose the 3D nature of objects and therefore showcase depth more accurately.

The transition from original to digital painting and the final 3D print by Joseph Coddington. Image one is the back image of the print, with each subsequent image adding another layer to the voxel print.

The outcome is a small, handheld print that can be viewed through light to evoke the murky pond water of Giverny. In this way, Coddington blends current craft-based tacit knowledge of 3D printing with Monet’s visionary and immersive artwork from the early 20th century. "We can therefore bring a visual and craft-based sensation without detracting from the visual sensation of the print," Coddington says.

Voxel Printed Water Lilies, Joseph Coddington

Pond water tends to be mirky with fragments of materials floating within. These printed fragments appear at different depths when light shines through the body of water in the crafted object. When a backlight shines through the print we get a similar quality to light rays shining through a pond, as the light illuminates and is distorted by the material fragments. The voxel print has a cinematic quality due to harnessing light within an object, which separates the craft from most 3D-printed objects.

Voxel Printed Water Lilies with backlight, Joseph Coddington


About Joseph Coddington

Joseph Coddington is a designer with a range of industrial, computational, and graphic design abilities. Coddington wishes to use both his professional and academic design experience to progress his longstanding career goal of using his design and creative ability to advance design's role for social good.

His experience as an industrial designer in the fast-paced corporate furniture industry has quickly elevated his design skill to work alongside the Director in product research and development while responsible for company-wide product management tasks such as product handovers.

Before this he completed a Master of Design Innovation, focusing on voxel printing images, and creating a 3D object from a 2D image. His Undergraduate Degree specialises in digital fabrication, creatively using new technology across a range of design scenarios, from exploring 3D printing technology, and furniture and product design, to designing with parametrics and utilizing up-cycled materials.

A strong software skillset including experience with Solidworks, Rhino (with grasshopper), Keyshot and Blender, as well as graphic design software such as Adobe Suite allows me to achieve a range of design objectives. Physical skill sets such as prototyping, sketching and product photography have been acquired over years of design experience.

Progressing the capabilities of new technology has allowed him to design at the forefront of academic, industry, and artistic practices. This opportunity to create at the forefront, and craft designs from original ideas, produces a unique portfolio and showcases his ability to design across a range of disciplines.


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