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Three-Dimensional Printing

Basic 3-D

Some of you may have used (or even owned) a Viewmaster device like the one shown on the right. To use it, you looked through the two eye holes and saw pictures that were three-dimensional.

Although this simple toy is very effective at recreating depth, it's not very practical to use with a large group of people.

Viewmaster 3d viewer and reel

lenticular lens sheet right left views


One way to show 3-D images to a group of people is to put the viewing device on the picture instead of on the nose of each person.

Lenticular pictures have long thin lenses glued to an ordinary inkjet print.

The picture on the left shows a close-up of a sheet of lenticular lenses with Left and Right stereoscopic images placed behind it. The lenses focus the image so that a person's left eye sees only the Left image and the right eye sees only the Right image. The brain combines the two separate images to create a sense of depth.

Computer Model

There are numerous ways to make lenticular images. Lenticulars can be made with digital cameras, layers of drawings, and animations. I use computers to create and record the 3-D scenes I build. The image on the right is the wireframe model for "Blue Balls".

wireframe 3d model

texture mapping

Light and Color

I then cover the wireframe objects with computer-generated textures and illuminate them. The image on the left is now ready to record as a sequence of views.

Animated Preview

Several camera views of the scene are recorded from left to right. The image sequence is then made into a movie which recreates the scene's depth. The animation on the right shows the depth movie of "Blue Balls" (2007).

Usually lenticular images consist of more than just the Left and Right views of a stereoscopic scene. Extra views are recorded between the Left and Right images. These additional images give the final lenticular scene a rounder, more realistic look.

finished lenticular

Ready for Framing

Using special software, the movie is turned into a flate print. Finally I glue the inkjet printout onto the sheet of long thin lenses. In the finished piece, part of the image seems to sink into the wall, whereas another part of the image seems to float in space as if teasing you to try and touch it.

"Blue Balls" is now ready to be framed and put on display.