Lenticular Lens 3D Photo

Lenticular Lens

(First of all, I thank Drew for introducing the lenticular kit to me ^_^)

Lenticular lens is an array of very thin magnifying glass like the ones in the 3D postcards you see in souvenir shops. I recently learned that you can purchase lens kits online and create your own 3D photos. Here is the gist of what you have to do:

  1. Purchase a lenticular lens kit online ‐ a $10 sample kit for instance (S&H is about $10).
  2. Take 2 to 6 digital pictures of the same subject from slightly different angles (a few degrees apart).
  3. Feed the pictures into a downloaded program to create an interlaced image.
  4. Print the interlaced image.
  5. Place the lens on top of the printed image and align them. At this point, you can see the 3D effect.
  6. If you like the result, peel off the protective sheet to expose the adhesive on the back side of the lens and laminate the lens onto the print.
You will need some patience and you are like to waste a few sheets of paper and some ink before you can get the setup right. But it's certainly exciting to see a 3D image from your own camera floating behind the lenticular lens.

How to Create Your Own 3D Photo

Above is one of the interlaced images I created. The input images are from our London trip in May 2007.

Purchase Lenticular Lens Kit

You can purchase lenticular lenses online from VueThru.com. The $9.95 sample kit comes with two 5"x7" and one 8"x10" lenses. A ten 8"x10" lens set is $39.95 + $13.27 S&H. For a 8"x10" lens, "Parallel with 8" side" means "landscape" (not "portrait") orientation.

Take Digital Photos

At Stonehenge for the image above, I took 4 pictures, each after taking a few steps along the pathway surrounding the monument. At Grand Teton, I took pictures of the mountains every few seconds from the car (driven by my wife) going along the mountain range. Also, I once asked someone to sit in an office char and rotate. Moving his feet sideways by half a foot after each shot seems to have yielded the best result. Make sure you don't tilt the camera between the shots. That would add unnecessary steps when aligning the images.

After taking the photos, align all the images

  1. Import the images into Photoshop, GIMP, etc. as layers.
  2. Make the layers transparent and align them. If the subject is a person, it would be best to align the eyes rather than the contour.
  3. Crop the image with the same aspect ratio as the lens (5:7 for a 5"x7" lens, etc.)
  4. Export the layers as TIFF, Targa, JPEG, etc. I created a GIMP script and a Photoshop script to automate this step. Let me know if you are interested.

Create Interlaced Image

A program called "SuperFlip!" can be downloaded from the VueThru.com website. It does come with a detailed help file (C:\Program Files\Flip!\Flip.hlp). But there are many parameters to set up.

  1. First, print the line screen test (Utilities menu) to determine the best pitch for your printer and paper. For instance, my setting for the 40 LPI lenticular lens was 39.95 lines per inch. I use Epson Artisan 810 and Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy. The kit should include the instructions. If not, ask their sales person (Jay Gresham) to email you "PitchTest.doc".
  2. Add the aligned and cropped digital images to the list and process them. The one at the top of the list is the view from the rightmost angle. Here are the settings I used for the 8"x10" 40 LPI lens:

This magnified picture shows how the images are interlaced:

Print Interlaced Image

Again, the lines-per-inch count depends on the printer and the paper you use. Non-glossy paper tends to shrink. A fractional difference could decrease the 3D effect by creating discontinuity in the image.

Place Lenticular Lens on the Interlaced Image

Place the printed interlaced image and the lenticular lens on a flat surface. Align the image and the lens perfectly in parallel. Then slide the lens sideways (by 1/40 or 1/60 inch at a time ;) ) and see the effect. I attached a plastic ruler on my desk with a double-sided tape and used it as a guide &dash I moved the lens like on a rail.

Laminate Lenticular Lens

This is the most unnerving part since ruining a $5 lens is not fun. The kit comes with the detailed instructions titled "Lamination".