How does 3D projection mapping work?

As a part of Adobe’s commitment to creators, we’re always excited to share new and compelling ways our users can communicate with their own audiences. 3D projection mapping is a great way to create lasting memories for those who view it.

3D projection mapping works by precisely aligning a projection with a real-world surface. This is often done on architecture but can be done on almost any object with distinctive features. Projection mapping is a unique opportunity for artists and creators to create visually compelling experiences.

Basic projection mapping workflow.

With the right tools and software, anyone can experiment with 3D projection mapping. Here are some basic steps to consider.
1. Surface preparation
The first step is to identify and prepare the surface the projection will be mapped onto. Choose a surface that will enhance the visual impact of your projection and create an engaging experience for viewers. It’s important to consider the lighting conditions the surface will be viewed under, as well as the surface’s texture and color to best optimize projection quality when you’re ready to start creating.
2. 3D modeling
Once you’ve selected a surface, create a 3D model of the object. Consider using Substance 3D Sampler’s photogrammetry feature to accomplish this. By creating the 3D model, you’ll be able to create your projection with exact proportions and measurements, to ensure the projected content aligns perfectly with the real-world object.
3. Content creation
Taking advantage of the unique features of the surface you’ll be projection on, create engaging visuals to bring the object to life. 3D projection mapping is a creative way to communicate your ideas and can be done with static images, animations, and video.
4. Calibration
When it comes time to set up a projector, it’s important to consider the projector’s position, angle, and lens characteristics as well as the surface’s geometry and texture.
5. Projection
Once the projector is properly placed, your content is ready to be projected onto the surface. With proper placement, your content will conform precisely to the shape and features of the object, creating stunning and immersive illusory experiences for viewers.
3D projection mapping of various textures to 3d visualization project
Image by Substance Alchemist team.

How do you use 3D projection mapping?

3D projection mapping is a versatile and creative technique that can be used in many ways, including advertising, art, education, and entertainment. If you want to engage a large audience, projection mapping techniques are a great way to leave a lasting impression on viewers.

How can companies benefit from 3D projection mapping?

Companies can benefit from 3D projection mapping at special events or to draw attention to a physical location. Some key benefits for businesses include:

1. Enhanced brand visibility. Create attention-grabbing displays that stand out in crowded environments. By using this technique, companies can increase brand visibility and leave a lasting impression on an audience.

2. Advertising campaigns. Projection mapping provides a dynamic and interactive advertising medium. It’s an opportunity to tell compelling stories in a captivating way. The immersive nature of projection mapping helps companies convey stories to their customers.

3. Event experiences. Businesses can use projection mapping to elevate an experience at corporate events, product launches, trade shows, and other gatherings.

4. Increases social media engagement. Projection mapping installations are just as interesting to viewers online when captured well in pictures and video. This is a great opportunity to share an interesting and immersive experience with your social media following.

5. Artistic brand expression. Projection mapping allows companies to express their brand identity in a creative and artistic way. This can create an emotional connection with an audience that can last much longer than a single event.

Diving into 3D projection mapping.

Whether you’re a business looking to engage a large audience at a venue, or even just a creative looking to explore a new medium, 3D projection mapping is an immersive and creative way to share your ideas and creativity. With the help of Adobe’s powerful apps, you’ll have the tools you need to create images, animations, and videos, ready to be projected onto any surface. We can’t wait to see what you create.

Frequently Asked Questions


Expenses related to 3D projection mapping include the projector that will be used, a computer or laptop, and content creation software, such as Creative Cloud and Substance 3D. Depending on the size and scale of the surface you want to project on, the type of projector used can vary greatly. Overall, 3D projection mapping is a cost-effective way to engage with an audience.


You will need a high-quality projector, computer, 3D modeling software, surface calibration tools, audio tools (if desired), control devices, cables and connectors, and a way to house and protect the projector if outdoors. Overall, the specific equipment needed will vary depending on the location, scale, and complexity of your project.


2D projection is like watching a movie on a screen or wall. In 3D projection, the projection is manipulated to match a 3D surface. 3D projection mapping, while more complicated, can create interesting illusions and effects, creating an immersive experience for viewers.