Industrial Light Painting is a project that merges the three-dimensional flexibility of a free moving light with the precision of computer controlled light source. Together, these two methods create highly accurate light paintings that capture a person’s portrait in full three-dimensional space. To achieve this, I wrote software that captured and saved RGB-Depth data from a kinect. I then imported this data into Rhinoceros and used Grasshopper to generate the robot motion. Lastly, I built a custom tool for the robot. This tool used a RGB LED driven by an Arduino that communicates with the robot controller. The automated motions of the industrial robot solves the lack of visual feedback to the artist problem while painting in light, by allowing him or her to create the painting virtually within the software used to instruct the robot as well as the light attached to it. This project had been featured on Gizmodo, Make, and the Creators Project.


Industrial Light Painting creates full color three-dimensional point clouds in real space using an ABB manufactured IRB 6640 industrial robot. The point clouds are captured and stored using a Processing script and a Microsoft Kinect camera. The stored depth and RGB color values for each point are then fed into Grasshopper and HAL, which are plugins to Rhino, a 3-D modeler. Within Rhino, toolpath commands are created for the industrial robot which instruct the arm how to move to each location in the point cloud. Custom written instructions are also added to make use of the robots built-in low-power digital and analog lines which run to the end of the arm. This allows for precise control of a BlinkM smart LED which is mounted at the end of the arm along with a Teensy microcontroller.

Using DSLR cameras set to capture long exposures, the commanded robot movements along with precise control over the LED recreate the colored point clouds of approximately 5,000 points, within about a 25 minute period.

Project done with Jeff Crossman.


Special Thanks To:

Golan Levin for concept development support, equipment, and software.
Carnegie Mellon Digital Fabrication Lab for proving access to its industrial robots.
Carnegie Mellon Art Fabrication Studio for microcontroller and other electronic components.
ThingM for providing BlinkM ultra bright LEDs

Additionally the creators would like to thank the following people for their help and support during the making of this project: Mike Jeffers, Tony Zhang, Clara Lee, Feyisope Quadri, Chris Ball, Samuel Sanders, Lauren Krupsaw

As seen on: Gizmodo, Engadget, Make and The Creators Project