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How to create your own three dimensional photos

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Introduction

(Nederlandse versie →)

Example of an anaglyph imageCreating your own 3D images is easy. All you need is a normal digital camera or a webcam. A pair of red/blue, red/green or red/cyan 3D glasses is recomended, but you can also see your images in 3D without extra tools using the squinting-technique or the 'wobble method'! This page will guide you through the steps, and can even render the 3D-images for you!

Want to see some examples? Then surf to the 3D Images Archive

How it works

You have two eyes for a reason: there's a slight difference between the image your brain gets from the left eye and the image from the right eye. You brain can interpret these differences as "depth". Simply put: the difference of nearby objects is greater than the difference of objects far away.

So, in order to perceive real depth in an image, we have to simulate our two-eye-system with a camera and computerscreen.

Problem 1

I have two eyes, but my camera acts as one. The sollution: we make two photos, slightly apart, just like your eyes. Duh! That was easy :) But the next problem is a bit harder:

Problem 2

Your monitor is flat as a pancake. Your left and right eye will see the exact same image on your screen, so no depth can be perceived. (Actually today there are real 3D monitors, sometimes referred to as "auto 3D displays")

Somehow we need to project both images on the screen at the same time, on the same place, but have to make sure your right eye doesn't see the images meant for the left eye.

Enter 3D goggles. When you look with through the red filter of the goggles, you'll notice that there's no difference between white and red. But when you look through the other filter (green, blue or cyan) all the red things suddenly gets black. Vice versa, when looking through the red filter, everything that's green/blue/cyan will be black.

Since we can combine red and green/blue/cyan images on the exact same spot on a computer monitor, and we have an effective way of filtering those images, one for the left eye and one for the right eye, our problem is solved.

Of course there are other ways, but this is the easiest and cheapest. One other way, even cheaper (free!) is the squint-method. Instead of trying to project the both images on the same spot on the monitor, the images are projected next to eachother. Then we can squint a bit, to overlap them again. This is explained in detail in the image viewer.

Step 1: shooting the images

Unless you have the luxury of having two identical cameras, you'll have to shoot 2 pictures, one for the left eye and one for the right eye. This implies that you cannot make 3D images of animate objects, it will ruin the experience.

Methode 1: parallel

There are 2 methods of getting a suitable images. The first is to make parallel images. First shoot the left-eye image. Then move the camera to the right, but in such way that the axes that go through the lens are perfectly parallel. Do not rotate the camera in any direction!

easy way of creating 3D images

Method 2: cross-through-center 

A better, but more difficult method is to make the axes through the lens cross at the center of the object. Make sure the angle of these axes and the baseline are identical for the left and right image. Avoid any other rotation of the camera, as it will ruin the experience. The more precise you work, the better the result.

harder way of creating 3D images

The advantage of this method is that it is a closer match of how your eyes work.

Easier way

For smaller objects you can use a much easier method: place the object on a rotating plate, with the center of the object directly above the pivot point. Place your camera next to the plate, and aim on the object and make a photo. Now you have the left-eye image.

Then turn the plate a few degrees to the right, and take another shot. Now you have the right-eye image. And you're done!

Note on distance between shots

The distance between the 2 camera positions is very important. In general, the greater the distance, the bigger the 3D effect. But please take into account that your eyes are 6.3cm apart on average so don't start out with 50cm distance. If the distance is too large, your brain can't combine the images anymore. Only if you want to shoot objects far away, you can try distances of 20cm-50cm. Experiment!

Step 2: rendering the 3D image

After you've shot the photos, you'll have to combine them. You can do this yourself, but this website can do it for you! Simply upload the left and right-eye photos, and the server will render a red/cyan-version which you can view with 3D glasses.

However, you'll need to prepare the images. This can be done with just about any image tool out there. For the Windows OS: IrfanView ↑ is free and well suited. For WindowsXP you can also use the Image Resizer PowerToy ↑, which is also free.

Requirements for the images:

  • Both images must have the exact same resolution
  • Both images must be JPEG or PNG format
  • Both images must be no larger than 1MB each, adjust the JPEG compression when the images are too large
  • Both images must be no larger than 1280x1024 pixels. 640x480 resolution however is more than adequate already.

When one of these rules is not met, the server will reject your images!

Note that by default your images are not visible in the public archive!

Select image for left eye:


Select image for right eye:



(please be patient while your browser uploads the images! Depending on your connection and size of the photo's, it can take a few minutes.)

Step 3: view the 3D image

3dbril.jpgAfter uploading the images you'll get to the Image Viewer. There are five viewing methods:

  • Anaglyph Red/Cyan, for Red/Cyan-colored Anaglyph glasses (default)
  • Anaglyph Red/Green
  • Anaglyph Red/Blue
  • Squint-method. With practice, this method gives the best results: full color, full 3D.
  • Alternate/Wobble mode. This method only works when the cross-method is used to capture the image. The result however is quite convincing, requires no practice and can even be seen by people who have otherwise no depth-perception!

In the image viewer, you can also decide to add your image to the public archive.

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