Is This Image Of Morgan Freeman An Impressive Finger Painting Or A Photo Hoax? [UPDATED]

It’s apparently a finger painting using an iPad, according to the artist and software company. Though some dispute that. [Updated to reflect debate about the image.]

1. Think this is a photo of Morgan Freeman? Well you’re in for a shock because it’s allegedly not. It’s said to actually be a finger painting using an iPad, the man who made it says.

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2. This is a real photo of the movie star.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images
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3. The iPad painting was made by Kyle Lambert, he says, and took 285,000 brush strokes and 200 hours to do.

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4. Watch the whole process in full in this video.

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UPDATE: Some have charged the image is simply a photograph; the company whose software Lambert used, Procreate, responded that “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.” The debate continues, and Procreate didn’t immediately respond to an email asking for technical support for its claim.

One photo expert has disputed that it is a finger painting, stating it was merely photoshopped from a picture of Morgan.

Although another photo expert has told BuzzFeed he thinks it does look real, although pointed out that the artist was most likely heavily referencing from a photograph or he’s basically painting over a photograph. The edit of the video could remove that step in the process. A photo we believe to be this reference piece is shown below.

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6. This is a real image of the actor, taken in 2009 by Scott Gries. It has all of the proper metadata assigned to it and as you can see looks identical to the alleged finger painting.

Photograph by Scott Gries / Via

Procreate has ignored several requests for technical backup for its claim.

But part of the question goes to the nature of digital art, and whether the “finger painting” is a photograph or not.

A photograph is, ultimately, an array of pixels, and an identical copy is just that.

“I think people are playing loose with the term ‘painting’,” said one digital photography expert.

Artists such as Bell, Goings, McLean and Kleemann, who were creating works at the heyday of photorealism, were capturing a heightened version of reality — something apparently real, but presented in a way a camera could never do.

But the “finger painting,” if actually technically identical, is more stunt than actual painting; if not identical, it is “painting” as the act of heightening/ obscuring incidents of visual information.

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Kimberley Dadds is the UK celebrity editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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