What Is Lenticular 3D?

Maggie J. Hall

Lenticular 3D combines a specially prepared image with a clear, corrugated type convex lens, which produces a 3D design. Different companies sell the lenticular plastic lens material for creating unique images. Many photo editing software programs come equipped with 3D tools that combine at least two angles of the same image or layers within one image, producing a multidimensional design. Some programs also include lenticular 3D tools, but free or inexpensive software is available. The combined software and lenses can be used to create images for cards, notebooks, or posters.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The plastic lenticular lens is one of the simple 3D vision technologies that produce images by enabling different viewing angles. Attaching the prepared print to the back of the clear lens, melded images appear to possess depth, when the display is viewed from different angles. The lens creates the effect as each eye normally sees images at a slightly different angle. Lenticular 3D lenses and the rearranged image trick the brain into combining sliced images into a singular display for a stereoscopic effect.

Companies manufacture lenticular 3D lens material in sheets ranging in size from 20 x 28 inches (51 x 71 centimeters) to 48 x 72 inches (122 x 184 centimeters). Sheets can be purchased in a variety of thicknesses and with various numbers of convex cells per inch (1 inch = 2.5 cm). The flexible lens material ranges in width from 0.14 to 0.33 inches (0.35 to 0.84 centimeters). The number of cells range from 40 to 100 per inch (1 inch = 2.5 cm). Different lens cell numbers and thicknesses produce 3D, animation, flip and morphed images, and zoom effects.

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Lenticular 3D images are designed by using a single subject photographed from two or more slightly different angles. Opening the images in lenticular applications allows the user to add the 3D blue/red outline values to each image. A special tool adjusts the focal length between each image, which determines the amount of depth. The interlacing feature then combines the images together, giving the appearance of a single image with 3D effects.

Using one single image, it is possible to obtain the same lenticular 3D effect. Editing software enables the user to remove aspects of a photograph layer by layer and to save each file individually. The lenticular software then adds layers one on top of another. The focal point is adjusted and the blue/red filters are added. The user can preview the final image for acceptance, after which the lenticular tool interlaces the layers, producing the multidimensional effect.

These images can be produced for personal use or for a small business venture. Businesses make unique gifts by creating lenticular images suitable for framing or by adding images to mugs or other household items. Lenticular imaging can be fund on commercial vending machines, packaging, and trading cards.

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