Artist Uses AI and Photoshop to Create Colorful Paintings of Stone Busts of Roman Emperors

Ever wondered what the colorless white stone busts of the Roman emperors actually looked like in reality. Difficult to imagine, since there are no colors or pupils in these busts. Well, Haroun Binous, who lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, took it upon himself to reveal the actual person behind these busts.

Haroun’s first step was to research the material available of the Roman emperors to get an idea of what they’d have really looked like. For this, he took the help of HV Canter’s book ‘Personal Appearances in the Biography of the Roman Emperors’ and also works of Suetonius, a Roman historian who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire, and Pliny, the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher, who wrote the encyclopedic ‘Naturalis Historia’. His broad-based search took him eight months to complete and he was able to reproduce around 60 emperors from the 1st Century to the 4th Century.

Haroun combined these historical references with facial recognition AI and used Photoshop, Artbreeder, and other programs to recreate the Roman emperors that ranged from Augustus to Flavius Arcadius. He used superposition and simultaneous comparison techniques to arrive at these faces. He based their eyes, hair, textures, and colors on quotes from Suetonius. His recreations are so precise and true to life that it seems that these emperors of yesteryears still walk amongst us.

Says he on his Facebook page, “I tried to be as realistic as possible. On the other hand, the description of the emperors of the 3rd Century to the 4th Century is nearly non-existent. So, I allowed myself my own personal touches regarding coloring, hairstyles, and facial features.” This lack of availability of busts of this period was due to the christinization of the emperors. A few valid busts proved unrealistic, since their eyes were turned upwards in submission to God. So, the artist gave them his own personal touch.

Haroun’s works certainly give an insight to the viewers as to how these Roman emperors, such as Julius Caesar, Nero, and others, would have looked had they been around in this day and time. Of course, his recreation cannot be a hundred percent accurate, due to a lack of information. But they’re as close to them as one can get since Romans themselves preferred realism in their sculptures.


The good news is you can buy a piece of this history from Haroun’s online Etsy shop.

27 BC — 19 AD (Died age 75 – Natural Causes)

14–37 (Died aged 75 – Probably natural causes, possibly assassinated by Caligula or praetorian prefect)

37–41 (Died age 28 — Assassinated in a conspiracy involving senators and Praetorian Guards)

41–54 (Died age 63 — Probably poisoned by his wife Agrippina the Younger, in favor of her son Nero, possibly natural causes)

54–68 (Died age 30 — Committed suicide after being declared a public enemy by the Senate)

68–69 (Died aged 72 — Murdered by Praetorian Guard in a coup led by Otho)

Check More AI Photos On Haroun Binous Facebook Post.

Haroun Binous

Facebook | Etsy Shop

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