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Insanely lifelike Morgan Freeman portrait painted on an iPad

Artist Kyle Lambert created an incredibly photorealistic portrait of actor Morgan Freeman using nothing but the Procreate app on an iPad Air.

Video screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia

A talented artist can get a lot of mileage out of the various art apps available for the iPad, but we ain't never seen anything like this. Digital artist Kyle Lambert has created a portrait of actor Morgan Freeman that's so lifelike we wouldn't have believed he'd painted it at all -- never mind on an iPad.

Luckily, he shot a time-lapse of the process so we can see exactly how it was done. About 200 hours and 285,000 brushstrokes have been condensed down to just three minutes so that you can see, stroke by stroke, how the picture was put together.

"I recently discovered that it was possible to create incredibly high-resolution (4K) paintings using only my iPad, and I wanted to see just how far I could push digital artwork and paint a true photorealistic portrait," Lambert said by way of explanation. "I started with a blank white screen and began capturing Morgan Freeman's likeness, quickly painting the broad strokes with my finger. I then reduced the brush size to a few pixels, pinched to zoom and carefully painted in the fine detail."

The portrait is based on a real photograph taken by Scott Gries -- Lambert didn't create the picture from memory -- but even so, it's an impressive piece of work.

For his platform, he used the $5.99 app Procreate, released earlier this year and recipient of an Apple Design Award. The app has a built-in 1080p video capture feature that allows artists to record every stroke in real time and export the finished video file.

"One of the big reasons I decided to do this painting was to inspire other budding artists to embrace digital art," Lambert said. "A friend of mine who is a school teacher explained to me recently that whenever he plays one of my painting videos in class, his students become noticeably more engaged and excited about creating art. The idea that more people are engaging in art because of something that I have created is amazing to me."

The painting, in fact, looks so close to the original source photo that many have doubted its authenticity, so much so that Procreate co-founder James Cuda felt moved to verify it.

"This portrait of Morgan Freeman is so realistic, so well crafted, many believe it's a fake. This is testimony to the quality of Kyle's ability. His work is so realistic, it's practically indistinguishable from the reference photograph by Scott Gries," he said in a statement. "The controversy prompted us to check the source file for ourselves, and after analysis we were able to verify that what we are seeing is the real deal."

Update, 4:39 p.m. PT: Procreate's co-founder has released a statement verifying Lambert's work. The statement has been added to this story.

(Source: CNET Australia)