This is how to create a 3d printed photo. This Instructable flows from the exploration of ideas suggested by James Yett. This particular piece is inspired mostly by the work of Danny Rozin (http://www.smoothware.com/danny/), such as the Wooden Mirror."
The concept works on the basis of a diffuse reflection on a surface from a single light source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffuse_reflection . When a surface is oriented so that it reflects the light source towards your eye, it appears to be a brighter color. When the light is reflected away, it appears darker.
If the surface texture is fairly rough you will have a more diffuse reflection and most of the brightness of the light is scattered. This works best with a darker material since a lighter color will absorb less light and the light source will be less visible. If the surface is polished, you will get more specular reflection and the light source will appear brighter, allowing for a lighter color material.
To create the oriented surfaces, I used Autodesk's Dynamo which is a free graphical programming environment for Vasari or Revit (get Vasari for free at www.autodeskvasari.com and Dynamo at www.dynamobim.org).
Start by downloading and installing Vasari and Dynamo:
(get Vasari for free at www.autodeskvasari.com and Dynamo at www.autodeskvasari.com )
When you first start up Vasari, it will say Projects and Families on the left. Click the button that says "New Conceptual Mass". Open the default "mass.rft" template. In Vasari under the "Add-Ins" tab, click the button for Dynamo.
In the Dynamo window, open the file (provided below) 3dprintedphoto.dyn.
You will see the graphical program to create the 3d printed image. An image is read by its rgb pixel values in a list. The rgb values are translated into greyscale values. These values are translated into a range for -x to x for our surface rotation. A grid is created matching the number of pixels in the image and a polygon is created at each grid point. Then each polygon is rotated based on its corresponding greyscale value. That polygon is extruded as a solid and it is ready to print.