This Photo of Morgan Freeman Will Blow Your Mind, Because It’s not a Photo at All


One of the most recent videos to go extremely viral over the past several days involves a behind the scenes look at how a portrait of Morgan Freeman came together… and when we say came together, we mean created from scratch on an iPad by finger-painting!

That’s right: the portrait you see above is actually an iPad finger-painting by artist Kyle Lambert based on this photograph taken by photographer Scott Gries, and we’ll be darned if we can tell which one was done on a freaking $6 tablet app and which one was captured on an actual camera.

Here’s a video showing the process of creating the portrait from start to finish in an app called Procreate on the new iPad Air:

Lambert specializes in creating photo-realistic finger-paintings, going so far as to say that his are “The world’s most realistic finger-painting[s].” This particular creation took 285,000 brush strokes, 200+ hours of work, and what we can only assume is a level of skill and talent far beyond our puny imaginations.

To see more of Lambert’s work head over to his YouTube channel or check out his website by following the corresponding links — there are plenty more unbelievable portraits where this one came from. Those interested can even find tutorials on his site to help you learn to do this for yourself… for our part, we’ll stick with cameras thank you very much.

(via Mashable)

Update: In light of the controversy surrounding this painting’s authenticity, several publications have reached out to Mr. Lambert. Here’s a snippet of the email reply he sent to My Modern Met:

To answer your question, no at no stage was the original photograph on my iPad or inside the Procreate app. Procreate documents the entire painting process, so even if I wanted to import a photo layer it would have shown in the video export from the app…

I trained as an oil painter and have been painting portraits and concept art using my Mac and iPad now for around 10 years now. Essentially, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to paint realistic looking images. All I have done here is adapted my usual technique to work with my fingers instead of a stylus or brush…

The whole point of the video is that the final image looks almost indistinguishable from the reference photo. If it didn’t, then the claim of it being ‘the world’s most realistic finger painting’ wouldn’t really be a valid one.

You can read his entire response over on My Modern Met by clicking here.

  • DatBus

    Nice but not really quite as impressive as the liner notes would have you think. This was done on a digital system in which the exact image could be mapped out. The photo-realist painters did this kind of thing free-hand and without digital tools.

  • Cynical Bloke

    It makes no sense to paint a photograph to look exactly like the photograph. Anyone that thinks otherwise needs to take a moment, and think. Just a little.
    The biggest joke is that is app only works in 4k. Good luck printing this ‘painting’ bigger than A2. Better to use illustrator.
    Sadly there is no such thing as bad press and even though this is a fake they will still make money from the campaign.

  • chphotovideo

    haha yup. and then the app ‘secretly’ start promoting the crap out of the video aka themselves…. and not having to pay him anything for his work.

  • Matias Gonua

    It’s equally sad to see people being amazed over trivial things.

  • Ronnie Cruz


  • Michael

    I was impressed at the 1:00 mark.

  • JayM

    Good point. Maybe this will help his career when he shows the whole process, and maybe do one that was not a photo at all, but from a live model. This too is how someone grows…

  • Aunt_Flo

    It’s saddest when people trivialize amazement.

  • Aunt_Flo

    I know painters that achieve this with living models. Some people have super-brains.

  • Miron Arnold


  • Becca Gulliver

    Whilst it makes no sense, to have the skills to be able to do so is pretty amazing IMO. Especially the few I’ve seen who can make photo realistic art with a ballpoint pen.

  • John McBriarty

    Wow. Just wow.

  • Guest

    Right. Except for the video documentation of the painting. And the fact that Procreate has a button that will actually show a stroke-by-stroke recreation JUST like this video (minus the music) of anything you create using the app.

    Are you jealous of the artist’s talent, stupid, or all three?

  • Dave

    absolutely right. It’s not a finger painting. It is still pretty amazing though. It’s basically photoshop for mobile…. but I’d be just as impressed if it was created with a mouse instead of a finger.

  • marc

    As long as its not used for wicked purposes. You know how people do when they want to superimpose images already created on the public view , but in a negstuve way rather than in its original context. Be careful what we take for ingenuity.

  • realistic painter

    i did the same thing, 1:1 pixel copy of an image will always the original image itself. there is no hand in the world that can do it so perfectly. The guy is a fake, and this is plagiarism of the original photo. beyond the 1:1 pixel copy which results in perfect pixel hairs, lighting, etc an equalizer tests shows that this photo has the same jpeg border pixels discoloration, a painted image would not have the same exact ones or at all, they behave differently. it would also have some of the original brush strokes. if you just look in his online tutorial he jumps from step 2-TO-step 3 which is clearly a jump between a paint job and the original photo. there is no in between steps that shows detail build up.

    Signed, a realistic digital painter.

  • meister

    i don’t believe it

  • chphotovideo

    Question to everyone here:
    I see a lot of people saying, its already a picture why paint it exactly like the photograph?
    I think a painter could say the same. They can create a piece of true art. Something with time, effort, and a skill. Spending 200 hrs to create this. Why would someone want a photograph that was set up in 15min and snapped in 1/200th of 1 second?
    If you were to have something done for your home, or as a gift for your loved ones. Would you want a photograph, or a painting like this?
    I’m a photographer. You couldn’t tell my paintings apart from a toddlers. So of course I love photography and know what goes into it BUT why can’t we respect all forms of art??

  • Jeff Smith-Luedke

    I’m about to upload the video in reverse and I’ll post a link, but the trouble with calling it a fake is actually the hairs and how they’re painted. Otherwise, I agree.

  • Adam Cross

    he’s already a very well known artist, he doesn’t need to cheat for viral recognition

  • Angie Fu

    Regardless of whether this was done with or without photoshop, photorealism doesn’t contribute much to the cultural world, especially if there’s a photograph that already exists that looks identical to this painting. And isn’t that the point of art anyway?

  • Ryan Fox

    You missed a spot.

  • Shmang Smith

    thats one hell of a hoax…lol, jk thats amazing…

  • Ebony Readyfornextvacation Wil

    So neat!

  • Esel

    Really!? It’s fake? Wow?
    Seriously a clever marketing ploy ( “Hmmm the old clever marketing ploy” – either Agent Smart or Peter Sellers’ Clouseau will do) that is all. Got a lot of people talking which is a good thing.
    Of course it’s fake. If I had taken that photo I’d be all over my intellectual rights attorney. It’s one thing to claim a likeness as your own but when you directly copy…nope not cool.

  • thedudeabides

    Just another marketing stunt for all of those easily amused, (and hoodwinked!), and believing that an artist, spending $10-20K of their time (artists sell their work, right?) copying an unimpressive copyrighted photo, was doing it just for the benefit of our amusement, oh yeah, and ‘amazement’?! Suurrre… BTW, it’s time for your meds. P.S. also, this was just another reminder of how far humanity has fallen from grace.

  • Matias Gonua

    That’s true.

  • vitamindevo

    Mind… blown.

  • Richard Ford

    Calling fake or at the very least misrepresented on this.

  • KJ


  • Aminat LepaLomo Odunewu

    his other work are paintings. This is the first he’s done using this technique

  • justsaying

    that was actually only two. You can’t be “all three” when there’s only two options. Before you go calling people stupid you should consider your own comments.

  • terry

    NONE of his other work looks anything like this, and don’t mention Rihanna, that looks just like the 3d stuff you get on deviant art. It’s a photo, he is lying, he went along with the theme of there is no such thing as bad publicity. Shame because he has talent, but now his peers know him to be a cheat and a lier.

  • Grant Harwell

    Fake. Take a photo of Morgan, Paste it into Photoshop. Slowly erase away with various eraser intensities. Record it all, then reverse the recording and claim to be the next Michelangelo. I should kick this guys ass for being such an ass.

  • Orpick Aname

    I do not doubt his skills I doubt the value of such things: why do we need photorealistic painting while we have photography? What’s the value, what’s the meaning of it? Just a proof of skill.

  • bored

    Ipad advert boring. Which agency create this case?

  • Mrwtf

    exactly. you can’t get the fine details with basic simple finger painting. The program cheats the painting knowing what the end result will be. Woopie doo. Basically its high tech paint by numbers.

  • spike

    don’t believe it for a minute…. start with a photograph, edit it bacwards to look like art and play video in reverse. He must think we are idiots!!!!!!!

  • 5345634563456

    why do all other paintings does not come close to this in quality?
    obviously when he is that good his other work should refelct that?
    yet all his other work looks worse then the morgan freeman painting.

  • Technocrat

    This is surely reversed engg from a photo. The two images (orig and painting) are exact replicas of each other. This was done on an iPad? wow…painting those micro millimeter details on the face on an iPad? Give me a break. A bigger monitor…maybe..but iPad. Who are we kidding?

  • Nodack

    You saying the picture is a fraud?

  • Nodack

    What’s the value of any art, music? Humans doing amazing things that few other humans can do inspires humans.

  • Nodack

    Bingo. We are Americans. We don’t respect anything. I am a musician that plays a lot of corporate parties. I can always tell when my band plays for foreigners. They get exited and clap. Americans don’t. They are unimpressed with anything. We are doing away with art and music in our schools too.

    Look at all these comments. 98% bash the artist. They are clearly unimpressed. I’m am not surprised.

  • Nodack

    I went to a concert and the band played almost as good as the record, but not quite. Why go listen to a band when you can play an iPod and have it be perfect.

  • Technocrat


  • Jabeer

    Very creative and awesome art….

  • Erran Stewart

    This is amazing!

  • Tangair

    Fake. Oops…I forgot it’s “art”: Faque!

  • Tangair

    Sadly, Copy & Paste is now considered “art”….

  • Dustin Wagner

    Except that you can change the brush sizes so your finger still only paints a line a pixel wide.