Painting With Light: Easy Video Mapping Software

Painting With Light is a complete video mapping tool that enables artists of any technical ability to paint with static and moving images through any video projector onto 3D physical objects.

Alex May - Painting With Light - Tate Modern
‘Painting With Light’ live video mapping and painting performance by Alex May at Tate Modern, London (April 2013)

Download the latest version of Painting With Light for free from GitHub:

What is Video Mapping?

Video projectors are designed to project a single video image onto a screen or wall but now, because we can generate the projected video graphics in real-time with even an entry-level computer (PC or Mac), we can show many video clips at the same time and position them within the screen so they match up with all sorts of 3d physical objects.

The image above shows an example live performance that was made using a single video projector, cardboard boxes, and Painting With Light.

This technique (also called Projection Mapping) has been adopted by digital artists around the world.  Painting With Light is an easy to use video mapping tool that lets anyone explore this exciting digital medium.

Features at a glance

  • Written from scratch in low-level C++ using OpenGL graphics so it’s really fast
  • Synchronised audio and video playback*
  • Built in sequencer to control playback timing of your media*
  • Supports over 200 video and audio* file formats, 300 video and audio* codecs via FFMPEG
  • Freehand video painting tools not found in any other video mapping software
  • Polygons, perspective correcting quads, bezier polygons, deformable meshes and more!
  • Unlimited layers with opacity control, powerful masking tools*, and 24 dramatic blending modes*
  • Combine it with your existing tools via Syphon (OSX), Spout (Windows), MIDI, and Open Sound Control (OSC).
  • Used for installations and performances around the world
  • Regularly updated with new features

[*] features available in 1.5 beta version

Do I need a video projector to use PWL?

No, although Painting With Light is designed to be used for video mapping with a video projector, on its own it is still a unique video painting software with which you can create images and videos that can be shared on-line and beyond.

You won’t need a powerful computer or a video projector to try it out and you can draw with your mouse or laptop track pad.

Read the Manual

Download the Painting With Light manual (PDF)


Version 1.7.0 – October 2019

  • NEW: Off screen rendering
  • NEW: 4k output size
  • NEW: Windows application is now 64 bit
  • CHANGED: Opens output window if second screen is found
  • CHANGED: Spout updated to 2.006
  • CHANGED: Stroke and line sizes upped to 500
  • FIX: Rendering blank textures
  • FIX: Trackpad zooming and panning on macOS
  • FIX: Output window can’t be closed on macOS
  • FIX: Stroke sliders on macOS
  • FIX: Polygon mapping
  • FIX: Brush not detaching on shape duplicate
  • FIX: Windows installer works with Visual Studio run time already installed

Version 1.5 – March 3rd, 2016

Version 1.4.970 – August 7th, 2015

There was an unexpected change in the ecommerce software that Painting With Light uses to control its registration resulting in licences being made invalid.

  • NEW: Edit Tool that can move any shape (including Brush and Roller) and edit shapes by double clicking on them
  • NEW: Mesh subdivision supports linear and bezier interpolation
  • CHANGE: Vertex mapping is now supported on Bezier, Polygon, and all line tools
  • CHANGE: Using the mouse wheel, you can now zoom out even further
  • FIX: Cursor wasn’t always hidden when mouse left the window
  • FIX: The mapping window wasn’t handling output rotation properly
  • FIX: The registration system broke due to a change in the ecommerce software

Version 1.4.943 – August 2nd, 2015

  • NEW: Loading and saving of paintings now works in demo version
  • NEW: Changed pwl format to human readable – original binary version is readable but not writable
  • NEW: Current painting filename is now displayed in the main window title bar
  • NEW: PDF manual is included in installation
  • NEW: Start up dialog with PDF and online manual links
  • CHANGE: Demo watermark text now appears at angles!
  • CHANGE: Removed work area rotation slider from bottom of the main window – added control to Output Menu instead
  • FIX: Spout, Syphon, and Video Input texture selection will be saved in picture files
  • FIX: Line tools weren’t saving width
  • FIX: Shape Edit not clearing contents on new picture
  • FIX: Windows shortcut was starting in the textures subdirectory by mistake

Version 1.4.898 – July 24th, 2015

  • Important fixes to the main video loading routines so they have better MOV support, and generally loop and perform much better.  If you’ve experienced any issues with video playback, then this release should help!
  • Fixed crash when opening .pwl files via file association (Windows)
  • Textures and Brushes are searched for in the same directory as the .pwl file if they weren’t found in their original locations, making them easier to distribute

Version 1.4.893 – July 19th, 2015

  • Fixed polygon tool drawing bug
  • Fixed recording of videos where duration is set to zero

Version 1.4.890 – July 17th, 2015

  • Added proper undo support for all actions for all tools
  • All editable tools can be moved (hold down shift, click and drag)
  • Fixed many bugs
  • Added warning when running on high DPI displays, such as retina

Version 1.4.868:

  • Improved handling of sample buffers that was causing some issues
  • Disabled Async Texture processing that was also not working for everyone

Version 1.4.865:

  • Added Syphon input support
  • Changed how OSX version is packaged
  • Fixed “keep on top” bug
  • Fixed initial brushes and textures path
  • Set “render to work area” on by default
  • Fixed mouse zooming in OSX

Version 1.4.847:

  • Fixed crashing with undo
  • Added helpful message when going into full-screen mode
  • Spout re-written with support for multiple streams
  • Fixed issues with video output alpha
  • Added H264 video, PNG and JPG sequence output options to video output plugin
  • Updated to Qt 5.5 and FFMPEG 2.7
  • Fixed memory leak in video playback
  • Added experimental support for anti-aliasing (see samples in rendering preferences)
  • Video Input re-written using new Qt QCamera classes
  • Added ‘keep on top’ feature to output window menu
  • Fixed window flags when coming out of full screen mode
  • Spout output is limited to 2 frames per second in demo version
  • Re-implemented command line support so double-clicking on .pwl files will now work again

Linux Support

The Linux version of Painting With Light has been temporarily withdrawn as there were too many problems with the current method of distribution.

This will be addressed in the future and a full, up to date release will be made.

Demo Limitations

The demo version of Painting With Light is fully functional apart from the following limitations:

  • Saved images or videos will have a watermark on them
  • Spout sending is limited to two frames per second
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