image processing for art investigation


Platypus is a software solution that comes both as a standalone application and a Photoshop plugin. It is specifically designed to digitally remove cradling artifacts in X-ray images of paintings on panel. This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Kress foundation. Read more and download the software below.

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Cradle Removal

The Platypus cradle removal algorithm was originally developed by Ph.D. student Rachel Yin at the Department of Mathematics of the Duke University (North Carolina, USA). Rachel worked under the supervision of Professor Ingrid Daubechies. Later her code was translated to a C++ framework by Ph.D. student Gabor Fodor, from the department of Electronics and Informatics (ETRO) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium. Finally, the C++ code was embedded into a Photoshop plug-in, developed at Digital Film Tools. All three versions of the software, along with their documentation, are publicly available and can be downloaded below.


Matlab code and documentation

Download the original Matlab code with its documentation.

Windows Application

Download the latest version of the Platypus application for Windows.

C++ framework

Download the C++ framework with documented code.

Photoshop plug-in for macOS

Download the latest version of the Platypus plug-in for Photoshop on macOS.

User Documentation

The Platypus Photoshop plug-in User Guide explains how to install, run and use Platypus. It details all the functionalities, shortcuts and parameters that the program offers. Quick start guides can be downloaded for all versions of Platypus on macOS (Photoshop and standalone) and Windows (Photoshop and standalone).

Developer Documentation

The Platypus Developer Guide, only available for Matlab, explains how to understand and modify Platypus source code. It describes the architecture of the cradle removal software. Both the Matlab and C++ code are documented internally.

Research Papers

  • A short image processing conference paper with concise algorithm setup: Digital Cradle Removal in X-ray Images of Art Paintings, R. Yin, D. Dunson, B. Cornelis, B. Brown, N. Ocon and I. Daubechies, IEEE International Conference on Image Processing 2014 (ICIP2014).
  • A full length math journal paper introducing improved algorithm in detail with extended numerical experiments. (under review)
  • An online image processing journal paper on practical implementation with online demonstration. (under review)

Cradle Removal Results

All X-ray scans were generously provided by the North Carolina Museum of Art, taken from paintings in their collection. By clicking on the thumbnail the image will be displayed in its original resolution. All images were obtained without any other modification such as gamma correction or texture removal (both features are present in Platypus if required).

The Dentist (Jan Miense Molenaer)

Saint Jerome in His Study (unknown)

St. Barbara and St. Valentine with Caspar von Laubenberg and His Sons (Master of the Laubenberg Altarpiece)

The Flight into Egypt (Master of the Female Half-Lengths)