Introduction: 3D Anamorphic Street Art

Picture of 3D Anamorphic Street Art

In the style of Julian Beever and Eduardo Relero, I tried to create a 3D anamorphic image (an image that from one vantage-point appears 3D).

This was my first but definitely not my last- it's just too much fun once it starts working;). So, thanks for stopping by, be kind and stay humble- mistakes are how we learn! I hope this information helps you make some bad-ass quality inspiration out on the street where it belongs.

ps- anamorphic art is used all around, for example try looking at words written for traffic on the road from the side whilst standing still- yay anamorphic way-finding devices:)

Step 1: Scope Out the Location.

Picture of Scope Out the Location.

Depending on your patience, you'll want to find a place without too much car traffic. I happen to live on a nice quiet street where the elder brooklynites find hipster art projects amusing:)

Step 2: Pick Your Vantage Point. Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer.

Picture of Pick Your Vantage Point.  Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer.

Find a view you can easily access throughout your drawing process (i.e. not a place that might be parked in or taken up by other large heavy immovable things).

Now take a picture from this SPECIFIC spot. Mark it with a big 'X' (I used painter's tape).
What you SHOULD do that I didn't (but will try in the future) is take this shot using a tripod and a camera w/ a nice viewfinder (Julian Beever does this) and have that tripod at the same height and location the entire time you draw. This way you have a concrete reference point, as our fun human eyes and necks tend to waver.

Step 3: Mask Out Your Basic Shape.

Picture of Mask Out Your Basic Shape.

I decided to use a good ole' basic circle object as my first to be 3D-anamorphicised. Yay basketball.

So the principle behind this whole optical illusion and the reason it only works from one perspective is because the elongation of the image from a distance compresses or collapses that image (like a scene might collapse when viewed with a telephoto lens). So this "circle" shape I masked out is actually a long oblong shape that viewed from my big beautiful blue X, appears circular.

->Test it out! It takes a minute- go mask out a circle and then stand a good 2-3 car lengths away and keep circling your circle (har-har) like prey (and try going closer or move farther away) until you SEE a perfect circle.

Step 4: Get to Colorin'!

Picture of Get to Colorin'!

If you're using a street like I did, up-close you'll see those valleys between the little bumpies become enormous. It takes a LOT of chalk and chalk dust to fill that in- the good thing is that this image is meant to be seen from standing distance so already your eye will do some filling in as well (most 3D anamorphic street artists seem to use sidewalks or large plaza settings with smoother stone surfaces).

I suggest using a color not so bold at first, something that might be close to street color but still distinguishable. That way you can take the extra step of stepping back and checking the accuracy of your shape before adding in all your painful detailing.

ps- I used whatever I had on me (some old color oil pastels) and had the boy pick up a few chalk and charcoal pastels just so we could play with some options. I strongly encourage experimentation;)

pps- Though I used the palm of my hand to spread the color, it'll quickly dilute the color. So for base colors-cool, for detail you want to pop- not cool.

Step 5: Share the Good Times:)

Picture of Share the Good Times:)

I know you want the solo street-cred and all but there's nothin' wrong with letting others help if they'd be so kind to offer - plus friends got skills, maybe skills you don't know they had, ha maybe some THEY didn't know they did (like my bf with his crazy good highlighting::smile::).

This altruism helps especially if you start this project say around 3:30pm on the first rain-free day in a week with a thunderstorm forecast for later... you'll need help finishing before either the sun goes down or it starts down-pouring. Ha, good times.

Step 6: Bring on the Detail.

Picture of Bring on the Detail.

SO, here's what I learned during this step. Yay, discovery learning! When doing a spherical 3D shape, ONE- remember to refer back to either your print-out or your tripod-based viewfinder, and TWO- REMEMBER PROPORTION. I happened to use the wrong proportion with this particular project, but it came out nonetheless (what art is wrong or right anyway?).

In my future of sphere drawing this is what I will keep in mind and what I will now pass on to you:

After you've figured out your long oblong shape (think of a vertical french baguette) divide it into 4 parts from top to bottom. If you'd like something like text to appear readable to the viewer it tends to be in the bottom-most quarter of the baguette (the part closes to the viewer, the furthest part being the quarter that recedes most into space).

To use my basketball as an example, I wrote 'SPALDING' in the exact middle- proportionate to where it 'should' be according to my print out. But I DISREGARDED the ANAMORPHOSES! Next time, I'll write it closer to the bottom. Again, yay discovery learning.

Step 7: Stand Back and Check It Out.

Picture of Stand Back and Check It Out.

So here it is, finished. If you're going hand-held with the camera make sure you move around a LOT to make sure you have the best perspective to be taking the shot with (it turned out my blue X spot was a little off, and by moving 5 ft. closer it looked more like a sphere).

Step 8: Proceed to Take Obnoxious Amounts of Posed Pics.

Picture of Proceed to Take Obnoxious Amounts of Posed Pics.

Get creative. Ask people on the street. (charge $? lol.)

Step 9: Don't Let the Other Perspectives Feel Left Out.

Picture of Don't Let the Other Perspectives Feel Left Out.
Just to show the power of this vantage-point business:

SHOT 1: My man showing you this baby's actual dimensionality- so shoulders to about three-quarters down his leg.

SHOT 2: Straight-overhead shot.

SHOT 3: Where we put our big blue 'X'.

VID: How subtle movements change the object/ 360-view.

Step 10: Enjoy It While It Lasts.

Picture of Enjoy It While It Lasts.

The thunderstorm hit about an hour after this shot was taken.

Again, thanks for checkin' this out.

Post yours:)

Stayin' classy,

::EDIT:: So after re-reading my first instructable I realized I was very specific to the sphere shape. SO, if you're looking to try this anamorphic stuff out here's a more general observation I made:

Whatever part of the image you want to really POP, i.e. be 3D, THAT part of the image will be the most distorted or stretched out. The thing I said about the 4 parts of the baguette applies to most shapes/images. The lowest quarter will have little distortion while the top three extreme distortion. And again, whatever parts of your image you'd like to pop (even if it is in the lower most quarter of your image) those will have mucho distortion.

Thanks for all the love!


Illfixit_2016 (author)2016-02-20

I've been trying with trying my hand at street art. Your post has been most helpful.

AJC2 (author)2015-04-28

AJC2 (author)AJC22015-04-28

Megann123 (author)2013-06-29

This is great!!! Sorry abkut the thunder storm! I am trying to enter a street chalk art contest and i would like to do some 3D illisuion type thangggg.... Can u post more stuff???? Thanks!

stanisbell (author)2013-05-25

Ink, Great work! This shot is one out of all your "instructables" that helped me understand the nature of the disproportionality of the art compared to the real proportion of an object nearby. Notice the MAN HOLE COVER! It is in REALITY perfectly round but flat on the ground (2D). Next to a drawing that ALSO is in reality FLAT on the ground and 2D. From a bird's eye view the man hole cover is perfectly round but as you step away to your "blue X" perspective spot the man hole cover turns into an ELLIPSE. This showed me that in order to get the OPPOSITE effect on your drawing of the basketball, eg., perfectly round, then you'll have to draw an ELONGATED ELLIPSE!! That viewed from same "Blue X" spot will then appear as a PERFECTLY ROUND 3D CIRCLE. Little did you know that drawing your first anamorphic drawing of a "ball" next to a man-hole cover would be so helpful. Thanks, GF! Keep up the good art!!

FastgrafX (author)2012-01-20

Where the Wall graphic you were talking about? Im a graphic desinger who specializes in signage and vehicles, wanted to apply this to doing my floor graphics and woulld liek to see some wall graphics. I have been foolin around with the floor graphics using the grid tech. But really wanna see the walls and how its done. WOuld like to apply some techniques to my vehicle wraps also!

SneakyRobot (author)2009-09-20

It would totally rock to draw a big brick wall in the middle of the road so that drivers would hit their brakes while the illusion lasts. ideally right by an intersection so anyone turning onto the road won't see it from a distance & know whats up.

siafulinux (author)SneakyRobot2011-06-24

haha, excellent. Would also be great in neighborhoods where people drive WAY to fast; but once they figure it out, it may not work as well. :)

gaveat123 (author)siafulinux2011-08-13

I think they did that in Canada. They had an anamorphic drawing of a child crossing the street that was really realistic, it slowed down the traffic a lot. But there is an obvious downside, the drivers get used to "running" over little kids... I think the same could happen with the Brick walls.

inkjacket (author)SneakyRobot2010-05-16

 HA!  can't believe it took me so long to reply to this.  You're hilarious sneakyrobot.  Next project: brick wall;)

My plans exactly ; ) . Actually somewhere I read some garage managers painted people in their garage in this style, so when drivers get to it, the pictures pop up, and it startles the driver enough to slow down, before continuing

weirdscience (author)2011-01-23

Great instructable, I do anamorphic anaglphs which were inspired by this art form if you have a pair of red/cyan glasses you can see one of mine of a pregnant woman at :
Just like your work the image needs to lay flat and you look down at a 45 degree angle.

bions (author)2010-08-14

Instead a projector you can use BSAsidewalk3D to create accurate grids that make it easy to transfer the image projections. And it works at any time of day. The attached image shows a Rubik's cube done this way (as a paper cutout to avoid being rained away). The boy is real, the Rubik's cube is the anisotropic image. Go to for details.

Zorink (author)2009-05-14

Great job! While I was reading this I had an idea - would using a projector to project your (normal, non distorted) image from your vantage point automatically distort it to what it needs to be?

inkjacket (author)Zorink2009-05-14

SO funny, just talked about that this morning w/some friends, it CAN work for the parts that need distortion, i.e. the parts that should be the most 3-dimensional, and I think it'd be a huge help w/ detailed work that don't fall into nice basic shape outlines- so i say a hybrid of techniques is in order:) Thanks!

Zorink (author)inkjacket2009-05-14

Cool, I'd love to see how it turns out if you ever try it. I just thought of another method that should work too. Take a large square with known dimensions and lay it out where you want the art to be. Take a picture from the vantage point to see the distortion. Then use an image editing program (like GIMP) and open the pic you want distorted. Place the picture you took of the square in another layer and stretch them out until the picture of the square is square again. I'll post some pics later for a better explanation

Zorink (author)Zorink2009-05-14

There were no squares in your pic, but the manhole cover is a circle so I used that as reference. I stretched it back to a circle and the basketball should now be appropriately(ish) stretched.

Kaiven (author)Zorink2009-09-15

That is brilliant! I'll use your method to make my own images :D But how did you make the manhole a circle again?

Zorink (author)Kaiven2009-09-15

Use any image editing program (I used GIMP)

Kaiven (author)Zorink2009-09-15

Wait--I have gimp, but how did you reproportion it like that?

Zorink (author)Kaiven2009-09-15

just stretch the image manually until it looks good

inkjacket (author)Zorink2009-05-15

HA! This is amazing! thanks for taking the time out man! lol i like your wordage- appropriately(ish) ha.

5533888 (author)2009-05-28

That's cool!

cookie and cream (author)2009-05-22

thanx foe the tutorial but im kinda stuck on this step could you please go into a bit more detail?

Xenel (author)2009-05-18

Do you think you could aim a flashlight that's at the chosen perspective point, at the basketball and trace the shadow?

jetse (author)Xenel2009-05-19

that, actually, is a genius idea. You make a drawing or take a picture of the object to 3D'Alize (is that a word) Then you cut out the outlines on a piece of a cardboard. you than aim a lamp (like they use on building grounds) onto the spot where you want your 3D art. and then with the lamp at eye height you put the cutout cardboard in front of the lamp and let it rest there (maybe a tripod or something) you then just make lines on the shadow of your projections. you than have the contours of the 3D object in super realistic perspective (when your standing on the place were the lamp previous stood). don't know if this is handy, but in my opinion it's the most fast and realistic way to draw 3D world. if anyone wants to try it, DO IT, and let me here how it worked out Greetings jetse

FooL111394 (author)jetse2009-05-21

Very good idea.:3

gfella (author)2009-05-19

I'll bet it'ill cause car wrecks from people trying to avoid it. Still Awesome though.

raimen (author)gfella2009-05-20

thats a good idea :D make something that looks real to the drivers :D (atleast from one direction) and make them think theres a giant gaping hole in the ground or something :D

Wesley666 (author)gfella2009-05-19

hahahahahahahahahahaha. LOL!

Arbitror (author)2009-05-18

This is great! 5 stars!

XOIIO (author)2009-05-16

Amazing! That's one of the best optical illusins iv'e seen. Scratch that, it IS the best!

pechka (author)2009-05-16

Love this! Thanks. I know from preserving my son's toddler drawings on cement, that pouring floorwax over chalk drawings will extend their lives quite a bit, though I don't know how long they'd last under tires. (The more layers of floor wax, the longer the drawing will last.) I'd think that w/o any "coating" that the drawing would be wiped out by one car. How does the technique change for doing a 3-D drawing on a flat verticle surface like a wall?

inkjacket (author)pechka2009-05-16

Thanks pechka! The floorwax sounds like a smart way to go- definitely would not have been the first thing to come to mind lol. As far as the tires go- it was ran over COUNTLESS times while we were working, some people were nice enough to go around it but my positioning didn't make it too easy for the almighty SUV. Because the tires didn't really drag across the image it did little to nothing during the process:) For the wall I'd say it's just a matter of perspective-realism in general, check out Timofly's comment below! His wall piece is crazy good! thanks again:)

inkjacket (author)Timofly2009-05-15

dude, the door is SICKNESS. definitely in need of some public outdoor space audiences-wink wink*

Timofly (author)inkjacket2009-05-15

haha thanks, I didn't want to do it in chalk, because everyone likes to do it in that....and i don't want to put effort into something that will be gone the next day..or week, so I painted it. TOo bad the wall had brick textures...otherwise it would've been more convincing.

Greasetattoo (author)2009-05-15

Here ya go... A homage to INK!

inkjacket (author)Greasetattoo2009-05-15

LOL! Much love grease:)

Greasetattoo (author)2009-05-14

Very Cool. GREAT Job... Have you ever tried the grid method? I drew up a grid in Coreldraw, then take a photo or picture, and stretch it to the grid in Coreldraw. Then, I go to the sidewalk and draw the picture gridded out. Works pretty good. I have the grid if you want it..You will need Coreldraw, though...

zWizart (author)Greasetattoo2009-05-14

hey i need that grid and more details about it.. can i somehow create a sticker istead of draw it on pavement? nice job inkjacket, i tried to do this few times on paper.. ;)

zWizart (author)Greasetattoo2009-05-15

that's what i was looking for! 10x!

inkjacket (author)zWizart2009-05-15


FunkNattidelic (author)zWizart2009-05-14

use masking tape.

inkjacket (author)Greasetattoo2009-05-14

HA! amazing! i was desperately looking for EXACTLY that- couldn't find one so needless to say I ended up eye-ballin' the whole thing. The grid is great-THANKS!

DougInAla (author)Greasetattoo2009-05-14

Sounds like a good approach, Grease. Especially for the beginners among us. Could you go into a little more detail?

Timofly (author)2009-05-15

the easiest way to do this is by taking a photo of something that you want to make three dimensional, then print it on a transparency, then project the image onto the surface of your liking(note that the projected image should not be perpendicular to the projection plane and therefore the image should look distorted from other views). Place the projector where you would like the viewer to look from. then use chalk, or any coloring material to copy the projected image onto the surface, voila, done, I kinda did something similiar for my highschool a while back.
Original reference photo:

marcocen (author)2009-05-14

great one, man! i t really looks good, though I think the shade on the ground should have been...idk...different, it's proportions seem odd to me, but, hey! it's one hell of a good try! keep the good work, and I can't wait to see more of your street art. Oh!, by the way, you're in my favourites now!

About This Instructable




More by inkjacket:3D Anamorphic Street Art
Add instructable to: