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Lasers. They”re undeniably cool. Doctors use them to perform delicate surgeries, sci-fi geeks can”t get enough of them, and as it turns out, artists can crank out some pretty amazing work with them as well.

This piece was created by Andy Gikling, an artist and software consultant hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota.

The finished product is called After Sunset. These designs are intricately etched into a slab of slate.

The finished product is called <em>After Sunset</em>. These designs are intricately etched into a slab of slate.

What if I told you that this took less than three minutes to create? Okay, so creating the design, the digital file, and all of the laser commands took considerably longer, but once that laser started moving, the piece was finished in about two minutes.

It all came together in an epic show of techie fire.

First, the laser blocks out the larger shapes in what”s called a “raster” process.

First, the laser blocks out the larger shapes in what

A raster operates kind of like an inkjet printer, creating the image in lines across the surface. This is just a million times cooler because it uses lasers. Different laser intensities result in different shades.

After the raster, the laser runs a “vector” process.

After the raster, the laser runs a

This is more of a freehand process, during which the laser adds in all the intricate details. At this point, the laser is moving at six meters (or about 36 feet) per second. “Vector” is the name for the direction in which a laser is moving, and each vector must be programmed separately. This project required more than 100,000 separate vectors, so let that sink in.

Here”s the vector at work.

Here

This is in real time, everyone. In areas where it appears to slow down, it”s actually creating intricate curves.

(via Colossal)

Watch the whole thing go down in the video below.

How crazy is that? You can see more of Gikling”s artwork on his deviantArt page. The laser that was used for this was custom-built for artistic purposes. It”s called the Lightguide v5, and it was the brainchild of LasX Industries of Minnesota.

If you like watching artists work, then you”ll love these stories!

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