Click here to download AudioPaint. Unzip the file and run the installer. Make sure you read the documentation (the AudioPaint.pdf file).
If you can't run this program, please update Microsoft .Net Framework to version 2.0 or higher.
You can also download scifi samples generated by analysing pictures with AudioPaint. No processing, no audio effects, just the raw output of the program.
Click here to download the samples (about 345 MB).

What is AudioPaint ?

AudioPaint generates sounds from pictures. The program reads JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP files and translates each pixel color and position into frequency, amplitude and pan information. AudioPaint can therefore be considered as a massive additive synthesizer.

How does it work ?

A picture is actually processed as a big frequency / time grid. Each line of the picture is an oscillator, and the taller the picture is, the higher the frequency resolution is. While the vertical position of a pixel determines its frequency, its horizontal position corresponds to its time offset.

By default, the color of a pixel is used to determine its pan, the red and green components controlling the amplitude of the left and right channels respectively (the brighter the color, the louder the sound), and the blue component is not used. The action of each component can be modified in the Routing section of the Audio Settings window. Starting with version 2.0, AudioPaint can also convert the color components into HSB values, and use hue, saturation and brightness instead of red, green and blue.

How to use AudioPaint ?

Depending of the picture, several hundreds (or even thousands) of oscillators can be generated simultaneously. Due to the large amount of data to process, AudioPaint is not real-time. Once you chose your picture and the parameters, you generate a sound. Then you can save it as a .WAV file for further processing in a sound editor such as Sound Forge / Wavelab etc.... or to import it as an audio track in a sequencer (Sonar, Acid etc...).

Of course the sounds generated will vary depending on the type of picture used. I tested AudioPaint with pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and available at the Hubble Heritage Gallery of Images. The results are complex and fascinating futuristic soundscapes, especially with long durations. Generative graphics, which usually exhibits a lot of colors while having a geometric composition, work especially well.

But you can really try any type of picture: maps from Google are also a good starting point for your sonic exploration, as well as paintings of Picasso, Monet and other great artists. Starting with AudioPaint 2.0, it is even possible to acquire random (but suitable) pictures from the Internet directly from the program.
And of course, don't hesitate to create pictures especially for AudioPaint, in PhotoShop or a similar graphic package. By playing with geometrical shapes and colors, you can create very interesting sounds.

Sound Examples

Here are a few sounds generated with AudioPaint. There has been no post-processing and no effects added.

Instant Noodles : generative curves with a 5-tone scale for instant Chinese music.
Crystal : a 3D mathematical function using a 7-tone scale.
NanoProbe : geometric construct with linear frequency scale.
Mercury Rain : generative clouds of points for granular synthesis.
Aurorae : ethereal drone made from curves contained in a narrow frequency band.
Cosmic Ray : generated from the picture of a constellation.
Magical : interlaced curves playing on a magical scale.
Ghosts from Space : the mysterious sound of Supernova Remnant Cassiopeia A.
Martian Soundscape : a 3-minute soundscape generated from a picture of Mars.

Program History

New in version 3.0

  • added installer
  • better support of wave files (now accepts wave files in 8-16-24-32 bits with various channel numbers)
  • added "more pictures..." button to the random web pictures tool
  • added Doodle generator in Tools menu
  • added quick way to change duration of the sound generated (in the main window, without opening the "Audio Settings" window)
  • added fade-in / fade-out audio settings
  • added Image menu, including:
        - rotate / flip images
        - color manipulation: grayscale, negative, red/green/blue filters, brightness and contrast adjustment
        - sharpen, smooth, box and gaussian blur
        - edge detection, emboss
        - dilate, jitter, pixelate, turbulence, wave
        - blending of two pictures, including selection of RGB channels
  • fixed “random web picture” after a change in the host broke the download code
    New in version 2.1
  • allows to enter the sound duration in BPM form
  • allows to specify the min and max frequencies as musical notes
  • displays scale file information
  • added batch processor
    New in version 2.0
  • entirely rewritten (from C++/MFC to C#/.Net)
  • audio engine optimized for speed
  • no more limitation on the duration of the sound generated
  • processing is now a background task
  • processing can be cancelled
  • can import Scala files for the frequency scale
  • can generate a sound from hue, saturation and brightness in addition to red, green and blue
  • generative algorithms enable the creation of pictures composed of lines, curves or clouds of points
  • new function automatically finds suitable pictures on the web and import them in AudioPaint
  • projects saved in XML for easy import / export to other tools
  • floatting window for better visualization while scrolling
  • pictures dropped on the main window will automatically be imported
  • PDF documentation
    New in version 1.3
  • samples can be previewed in the file requester (Parameters window)
  • stereo samples are now accepted for waveforms
  • fixed a bug when user tried to read an invalid picture file
    New in version 1.2
  • the max duration of the sound generated has been extended
  • fixed a bug with very short sample files
  • a more convenient documentation (help file)
    New in version 1.1
  • use of samples as waveforms for the synthesis
  • routing of red/green/blue component to left / right channel
  • project files (store the picture name + audio parameters)
  • "play loop" and "stop" commands / buttons
  • new user's preferences window that defines the default folders and the automatic playback mode after processing
  • automatic normalization after processing

    What is next ?

    The current version is 3.0. The following features could find their way into the next version(s):

  • a component (blue by default) could be used to control an effect such as a waveshaper
  • integrated delay / reverb effects
  • new interpolation modes for the wavetables
  • new synthetic waveforms (saw, pulse...)
  • more generative graphic functions
  • processing of movie files
  • import a sound file as a picture by using FFT for spectral analysis
  • display of frequency / volume / pan information when the mouse is over a pixel
  • multicore support for faster processing
  • picture browser
  • drawing directly on the canvas with various brushes