AI trained to detect art forgeries by looking at a single stroke.

A neural network became a expert at detecting art forgeries by learning how famous artists drew their line strokes. Researchers at Rutgers University and the Atelier for Restoration and Research of Paintings in the Netherlands used a sample set of 300 line drawings from well-known artists such as Picasso and Matisse. From those drawings, the AI examined 80,000 lines strokes and learned what characteristics in the strokes were unique to the different artists.

From Technology Review:

The researchers also trained a machine-learning algorithm to look for specific features, like the shape of the line in a stroke. This gave them two different techniques to detect forgeries, and the combined method proved powerful. Looking at the output of the machine-learning algorithm also provided some insight into the RNN, which acts as a “black box”—a system whose outputs are difficult for researchers to explain.

Since the machine-learning algorithm was trained on specific features, the difference between it and the RNN probably points to the characteristics the neural network was looking at to detect forgeries. In this case, it was using the changing strength along a stroke—that is, how hard an artist was pushing, based on the weight of the line—to identify the artist. With both algorithms working in tandem, the researchers were able to correctly identify artists around 80 percent of the time.

The researchers also commissioned artists to create drawings in the same style as the pieces in the data set to test the system’s ability to spot fakes. The system was able to identify the forgeries in every instance, simply by looking at a single stroke.

“A human cannot do that,” says Ahmed Elgammal, a professor at Rutgers and one of the paper’s authors.

Image: Picasso, Matisse, or a Fake? Automated Analysis of Drawings at the Stroke Levelfor Attribution and Authentication