The Lucida 3D Scanner is a close-range, non-contact laser recording system that captures high-resolution surface texture data for low-relief surfaces such as paintings or bas-reliefs. The Lucida hardware and software were conceived and developed by artist and engineer Manuel Franquelo together with a team of artists, conservators and engineers at Factum Arte. Logistical support was provided by Factum Foundation.
The Lucida is unique in that it records the 3D surfaces of low-relief objects without being affected by their colour or material properties – the texture of a gold object can be recorded to the same degree of accuracy as the surface of marble relief. The scanner is a portable, versatile system that produces high-resolution data with close correspondence to the original surface. It is also easy to operate, a factor that has encouraged us to use it in training programmes for cultural heritage digitisation – from Columbia University in New York to Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
The in-house development of the Lucida, which began in 2011, was a response to the growing needs of both Factum Arte and Factum Foundation for high-resolution surface data of paintings, as well as for ongoing recording and facsmile projects in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, Luxor. Commercial 3D scanning technologies, which find dark colours and glossy surfaces problematic, were no longer a viable option to capture the quality we needed for both facsimile production and research. High-resolution relief data is essential to facsimile production. When used in conjunction with colour data from panoramic photography, it allow us to ‘rematerialise’ an object as a replica of the original. Colour information 'mapped' very precisely onto 3D data can also be visualised in diverse ways – from projections to layered browsers.
The subtle surface relief of paintings and other objects also represents a growing area of interest in heritage conservation. Lucida data enables researchers to 'remove' the colour from the surface of an object in order to study, for instance, a painter's brushtrokes or the pounce marks on a cartoon that was once used to weave a tapestry. Changes to the surface of a painting, for example as a result of restoration processes, can also be monitored by comparing Lucida scans taken at different times.
Since 2011, the Lucida has been used to record paintings and other objects at institutions such as the National Gallery (London), the Prado Museum (Madrid), the Louvre (Paris), the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), the Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan), Casa Pilatos (Seville), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), the Vatican Museum (Rome), the Mauritshuis (The Hague), and the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow). Projects realised with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner have been shown at the Cini Foundation (Venice), Strawberry Hill House (London), Waddesdon Manor, and the Antikenmuseum Basel, amongst many others.