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Picture of Make a 3D Layered Drawing
Defy the box frame gods and create a drawing that is truly 3D.

When finished, your 3D drawing will appear as a small window into a twisted world of your creation. Wow and amaze your friends! Dazzle your... your...

OK I ran out of 1950s product gimmicks. You could give this to someone and hang it on a wall, either way it will make people ask questions, and when they do, tell them the Internet taught you. The Internet taught you a LOT of things.

But if you're ready to do this, let's go to the first step!


I'm serious!

 
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Step 1: To Arms!

Picture of To Arms!
OK, not arms, but the stuff you'll need to build this. Let's see...


- A plastic box or a plastic picture frame. My local Pearl Paint was going out of business and their dreadful financial loss was my gain as I got these for almost $1 each.
- A ruler
- A pencil
- An X-ACTO Knife (refer to safety information in the picture)
- Your preferred art materials such as spraypaint and markers (human blood and tar are okay too!)
- Some card stock

Not pictured here:

- 1/4" thick foam board
- Glue
- Spare cardboard
- Tape
- My sense of self-worth ( couldnt find it )

Step 2: Trace the Box & Sketch Art

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So you know what sort of dimensions you'll be working in, trace the box with your pencil on the paper. After you've traced it, start drawing inside of it. It helps to come up with something that would have an extreme foreground element (like a street sign or a fence) and something that would be really far away (like some buildings). And if you want to use that baby picture that's already inside the frame, well, I mean, who am I to judge? This is a family-friendly website, so we'll talk about that later.

I chose a city scene, because New York City is my favorite place where I can eat a hot dog and watch two bums fight over a Winnie the Pooh blanket at the same time.

I started to draw those things that I just mentioned in the paragraph above that I won't repeat. So go back and read it. I'll wait.

Label what you plan on putting where, so you don't forget like me. Clouds usually do not sit 3 feet away from you, which I learned in school. The hard way. There was detention.

Step 3: Finish Your Artwork

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Use your inks, crayons, pencils, stamps, spraypaint, and actually finish the artwork. Keep in mind that you'll need to cut these out, so stick to things where you could actually define an outline. Don't do what I did and try to make a diorama of a ghost in a swimming pool smoking a cigarette, because that took forever to cut out.

Design tips:

Your background should be a piece of paper the size of the entire plastic frame. When you draw the background, remember what items you plan on placing in front of it, that way you don't waste your time drawing every brick on a wall only to put a tree in front of it. Try to draw a little bit "behind" the objects, that way if people try to look around them, they will be pleasantly surprised at your attention to detail.

The front-most objects can be stuck directly to the inner face of the plastic, but don't make them too large, as you'll obscure all the great things behind it (unless you're recreating a scene of your first date, in which case I suggest putting a big gym sock in the front because no one wants to see that)

Draw each layer separately, so you're not actually cutting into your backdrop or props. Think like you're creating a set for a play, or 5th-grade diorama of Lincoln's assassination (more detention for that one)

Step 4: Cut out Your Props & Background

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This step is a bit short on the content side, but it's necessary and straightforward. Trace your knife slowly and carfully around the edges of your drawings. If you are not an experienced cutter, try cutting further away to the outline and then make your way in with shorter cuts. Count your fingers when you're done. I'm down to 9 and playing DOOM has never been such a difficult task for me ever since.

Step 5: Review / Arrange your Scene

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Now that you've got all your pieces cut out and digits (or other extremities, go check, really) intact, arrange them on top of each other so you can see how your scene is coming along. They should not extend beyond the edge of your backdrop, because we're going to make a cardboard box for the artwork and plastic box to lie inside.

Step 6: Cut a Cardboard Frame

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This step is somewhat optional, because there are many ways to border the plastic box. You will, however, want to create some kind of back support for the scene. Your flimsy paper backdrop is not going to be strong enough to take any kind of pressure. And I'm talking way too much about pressure from behind, so I'm just going to stop that.

Either way, be inventive and come up with a way to cut a piece of cardboard (or even plastic) to protect the backdrop. Use measurements, most small plastic frames are 1" in depth. Cut out the corners and fold them up to meet the edges and see how well it will fit.

If you're following this to the T and you have a 3.5" x 5" plastic frame, then a box of Rice-A-Roni actually fits it to an unsettling degree, and it probably has something to do with the freemasons / numerology / Copernicus / Loose Change. All I know is that it was Spanish Flavored, if that helps. Don't tape it up yet, because we're about to do the next step.

Step 7: Glue your Backdrop to the Cardboard

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Use glue on the back of your backdrop card and affix it to the cardboard. I used delicious, brain cell-killing spray adhesive. I knew the fan was supposed to be facing the other way, but I didn't listen to myself, did I?

Step 8: Add Foam to your Props

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Use your X-ACTO (I love typing that) and your foamcore to create little bricks that your props can sit on. You can apply glue to both sides of the foam blocks (even double them up like I did for more depth). It's advisable to stick them to the props instead of your backdrop, that way you can reposition them if you have to.

Step 9: Apply your Foreground

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Apply some spray adhesive to the FRONT of your foreground objects. You will be placing a small amount of spray glue directly onto your artwork, because it will be sticking directly to the transparent wall of the plastic.

I recommend cleaning the inside of the box first with soap and water because this will be your last chance to access the inside of it. I also recommend spray glue because I am not sure of what else you can use on paper and plastic that will dry clear.

Step 10: Add Plastic Box / Finish Cardboard Frame

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Place your plastic box on top of your backdrop. Your picture should now have a sense of depth to it. If not, then, I already warned you not to spraypaint everything blue. You know that gets you nowhere.

If everything looks good to you, it is up to you where you'd like to go with the cardboard frame. You could use painters' tape to keep the edges together, or you could go back to the glue and assemble it that way. The "housing" is the only real wild card in this Instructable, because it could be created in so many ways, either with wood, metal, plastic, or cardboard. I like the way cardboard and tape look to give a "DIY" feel, but I'm sure people with real talent can make this look like someone hasn't tried to fix their radiator with a roll of tape and an old TV Guide.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

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After your frame is assembled, you may color, draw, or glue other things to it, I don't care, it's out of my hands now. I used my spraypaint to give everything a black coat.

Bonus tip: I used a length of stiff wire to go through the frame before I taped and painted it, that way it could actually be hung up somewhere.

Step 12: You're Done!

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You're done!

This is much better than a regular drawing, because what you have created is not just an image, but a location. These make great gifts, either for last minute birthdays or just really because you were bored and ran out of beer (that's not why I made this I swear). There's also a stereographic 3D pic down there so get out your glasses and look! Ha, you look ridiculous in them!

Future ideas: with a soldering iron, some wire, and a switch, you could add subtle but great LED effects to your scenes. A glowing window in a building, a mountain of burning tires, the cold, glowing eyes of a robot, or maybe romantic candle-lit dinner. In a black hole. Let me see what you come up with and thanks for reading! Remember to tip your waitress.
jlyvers7432 years ago
A very cool project. Thanks for sharing.
foobear4 years ago
nifty and sad in a good way, faved
poofrabbit4 years ago
I played with your 'able, I tried to load the pic but it's not letting me so here's the link: http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Layered-Drawing-FINISHED/ Looks flat in the picture, but it's not. I do think that black and white would make it pop more. Thanks for such great instructions!!
zombiefire5 years ago
old video box works good too
noapparentfunction (author)  zombiefire5 years ago
you have my endorsement on that. here's an idea, take your favorite movies on VHS, print out some screencaptures, and make a layered drawing of a scene out of the film inside of its box. but don't do it with your copy of "Big Booty Honeyz 9", I ran out of ink while printing just one booty!
90mp115 years ago
Nice instructible...perhaps a bit overboard on humour in places, but it was great for my tastes. I like the idea of the LED mood effects...could be pretty cool! Only problem i envisage is mounting the switch to the outside of the box in a discrete manner, but i look forward to giving it a go in future!
You remind me of James Bottomtooth....."yes, a bit overboard on the humor". XD
ha! that seriously just made me laugh out loud.
noapparentfunction (author)  firefliie5 years ago
i tried, but i couldn't get the reference.
The prissy British man of Seth McFarlane's popular animated television show, Family Guy.
ttsgeb 90mp115 years ago
For more fun, you could use a motion sensor out of a broken, gimmicky halloween prop... that could be done much  more discretely.
rapq775 years ago
cool
I voted 4.5 around step 2, after that "(more detention for that one)" bit I opted for Best Ever.
I really like your tutorial. Apart from the humor - which I enjoyed , I especially like this because there is no led, no embedded computer system , no wiring, no batteries. Plain an simple, it just works.
Very cool!  Keep your sense of humour, It's a gift. Don't be stiffled-live! laugh! enjoy!
Kornelie5 years ago
 wow it works! :D but my eyes hurt after while :D
noapparentfunction (author)  Kornelie5 years ago
looks like somebody isn't hardcore enough for the 'hardcore 3D crosseyed version'. :P
 ha! ask anyone who knows me, and youre gonna be told how hardcore i am :D
Danielk5 years ago
I love the stereographic picture. I saw the old-school 3d pic first and instantly wished to myself you had done a stereographic representation so I could do my crosseyed examination. :D

I might just do something like this...
noapparentfunction (author)  Danielk5 years ago
you know, i might publish an instructable about how to make stereographic pictures.
That would be very cool. 
tolga5 years ago
Nice job.
usLEDsupply5 years ago
I like how you made your own frame for this- it is certainly cheaper than buying one!  I am actually almost done w/ an instructable which uses LEDs behind a cutout silhouette design (not a city landscape like yours- but similar concept anyway).  Will post it up soon- the youtube video is holding us up a little bit, it is taking forever to upload and I want to include that in the instructable!
I like ChrysN's comment. This would be really cool if you worked in a few LED's
LoneWolf5 years ago

WOW!!! Now this is a cool instructable!!!!

highjacked5 years ago
Wonderful! I usually just read these instructables and become amused with people's creativity, but this time I might actually make this. I really enjoyed the humor with the knowledge, didn't lack on either.
highjacked5 years ago
haha..."note to self"
jam BD5 years ago
great way of showing 3D image =D
the "hardcore cross eyed" version works, but the reflection of your camera screws with my head :/
wenpherd5 years ago

Ooh, cool always wanted to make one of these.

ChrysN5 years ago
Neat! Adding an LED would definitely look cool!