Python script overlay

This type of viewport overlay allows you to write a custom Python script function to paint arbitrary text and graphics on top of images rendered by OVITO. This makes it possible to enrich a figure or a movie with additional information (e.g. a scale bar or data plots, see the examples below).

The Edit script button opens the code editor where you enter the code for the custom render() function. This function is invoked by OVITO each time the viewport needs to be repainted or when an image or movie frame is being rendered. The function's first parameter is a QPainter object, which allows to issue arbitrary drawing command and paint over the picture of the three-dimensional scene rendered by OVITO. The second parameter, args, is a dictionary containing additional information such as the viewport being rendered, the general render settings, and the viewport's projection parameters.

Any errors that occur during script execution are displayed in the output area below. It also shows any output generated by calls to the print() Python function.

The user-defined script has full access to OVITO's data model and can access viewport properties, camera and animation settings, modifiers, and data pipeline results. For more information on OVITO's Python interface and the object model, see the Scripting Reference.

Example: Scale bar

The following script renders a scale bar into the viewport (with a fixed length of 4 nm, as shown in the example picture). You can copy/paste the source code into the script input field and adjust the parameters in the code as needed.

from PyQt5.QtCore import *
from PyQt5.QtGui import *

# Parameters:
bar_length = 40   # Simulation units (e.g. Angstroms)
bar_color = QColor(0,0,0)
label_text = "{} nm".format(bar_length/10)
label_color = QColor(255,255,255)

# This function is called by OVITO on every viewport update.
def render(painter, **args):
	if args['is_perspective']: 
		raise Exception("This only works with non-perspective viewports.")
	# Compute length of bar in screen space
	screen_length = 0.5 * bar_length * painter.window().height() / args['fov']

	# Define geometry of bar in screen space
	height = 0.07 * painter.window().height()
	margin = 0.02 * painter.window().height()
	rect = QRectF(margin, margin, screen_length, height)

	# Render bar
	painter.fillRect(rect, bar_color)

	# Render text label
	font = painter.font()
	painter.drawText(rect, Qt.AlignCenter, label_text)
Example: Data plot

The following script demonstrates how to use the Matplotlib Python module to render a histogram on top the three-dimensional visualization. The histogram data is dynamically computed by a Histogram analysis modifier in the modification pipeline in this example.

import matplotlib
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
import PyQt5.QtGui
from ovito.modifiers import *

# Activate 'agg' backend for off-screen plotting.

def render(painter, **args):

	# Find the existing HistogramModifier in the pipeline 
	# and get its histogram data.
	for mod in ovito.dataset.selected_node.modifiers:
		if isinstance(mod, HistogramModifier):
			x = mod.histogram[:,0]
			y = mod.histogram[:,1]
	if not 'x' in locals():
		raise RuntimeError('Histogram modifier not found.')
	# Get size of rendered viewport image in pixels.
	viewport_width = painter.window().width()
	viewport_height = painter.window().height()
	#  Compute plot size in inches (DPI determines label size)
	dpi = 80
	plot_width = 0.5 * viewport_width / dpi
	plot_height = 0.5 * viewport_height / dpi
	# Create figure
	fig, ax = plt.subplots(figsize=(plot_width,plot_height), dpi=dpi)
	# Plot histogram data, y)
	# Render figure to an in-memory buffer.
	buf = fig.canvas.print_to_buffer()
	# Create a QImage from the memory buffer
	res_x, res_y = buf[1]
	img = PyQt5.QtGui.QImage(buf[0], res_x, res_y, PyQt5.QtGui.QImage.Format_RGBA8888)
	# Paint QImage onto rendered viewport 
Example: Viewport projection

The following script demonstrates how to highlight a particle in the rendered image using a circle and an arrow pointing at the particle. To this end, the script projects the 3d coordinates of the particle to 2d screen space where the overlay is painted.

import ovito
import numpy as np
from PyQt5.QtCore import *
from PyQt5.QtGui import *

# This helper function projects a point from 3d space to 
# 2d window coordinates.
def project_point(xyz, painter, args):
	view_tm = args['view_tm'] # 3x4 matrix
	proj_tm = args['proj_tm'] # 4x4 matrix
	world_pos = np.append(xyz, 1) # Convert to 4-vector.
	view_pos =, world_pos) # Transform to view space.	
	# Check if point is behind the viewer. If yes, stop here.
	if args['is_perspective'] and view_pos[2] >= 0.0: return None
	# Project to screen space:
	screen_pos =, np.append(view_pos, 1)) 
	screen_pos[0:3] /= screen_pos[3]
	win_rect = painter.window()
	x = win_rect.left() + win_rect.width() * (screen_pos[0] + 1) / 2
	y = win_rect.bottom() - win_rect.height() * (screen_pos[1] + 1) / 2 + 1
	return (x,y)	

# This helper function projects a distance or radius from 3d space to 
# 2d window coordinates.
def project_radius(xyz, r, painter, args):
	if args['is_perspective']:
		world_pos = np.append(xyz, 1) # Convert to 4-vector.
		vp = np.append(['view_tm'], world_pos), 1) # Transform to view space.	
		p1 =['proj_tm'], vp) # Project to screen space.
		p1[0:3] /= p1[3]
		vp += [0,r,0,0]
		p2 =['proj_tm'], vp) # Project to screen space.
		p2[0:3] /= p2[3]
		return np.linalg.norm(p2-p1) * painter.window().height() / 2
		return r / args['fov'] * painter.window().height() / 2

def render(painter, **args):
	# Access current particle positions.
	node = ovito.dataset.selected_node
	positions = node.compute().particle_properties.position.array
	# Project center point of first particle.
	xy = project_point(positions[0], painter, args)
	if xy is None: return
	# Get particle display radius.
	radius = node.source.particle_properties.position.display.radius

	# Calculate screen-space size of particle in pixels.
	screen_radius = project_radius(positions[0], radius, painter, args)

	# Draw a dashed circle around the particle.
	pen = QPen(Qt.DashLine)
	painter.drawEllipse(QPointF(xy[0], xy[1]), screen_radius, screen_radius)
	# Draw an arrow pointing at the particle.
	arrow_shape = QPolygonF()
	painter.translate(QPointF(xy[0], xy[1]))