DIY stereoscopy beats those MagicEye books hands down. Rather than looking at a rainbow of colors/shapes only to discern a dinosaur or beach ball, compose a 3D image of something you find interesting.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

You'll need the following:
a. light box(tent)*
b. camera (USB cable optional)
c. tripod (optional)
d. object to be photographed (CPU in this case)
e. angle tool (a.k.a. a paperclip)
f. pair of pliers
g. bits-o-knowledge

  • My crude light box(tent) was made by losely following this instructable:
Super Simple Light Tent
  • I didn't spend that much time on my light box(tent) because I would be photographing a small object using a shallow depth of field.

Step 2: Prepare the Angle Tool (bend a Paper Clip)

The angle tool is very important.

Bend the paper clip to form a stand that works for your object. I wanted the CPU to be barley propped-up so the stand is rather flat.

After you have formed the stand, grab the pliers and bend a hook. The hook, in this case, wrapped around the CPU so it wouldn't fall off the stand. Had I flipped the CPU over then this probably wouldn't have been necessary - the pins would have grabbed the paper and prevented the CPU from sliding down.

Step 3: Compose the Picture

Arrange the object in the light box(tent) to your liking. This proved to be a little tricky as the paper clip would slide down the paper before I could put the CPU on it.

Step 4: Take the Pictures

To achieve the 3D effect, two pictures must be taken.
- one aligned slightly to the right
- one aligned slightly to the left

Depending on how close you are to the object, you may only need to move the camera a couple inches between shots. The farther your camera is from the object the less horizontal distance you should move the camera between shots.

When you take the pictures at different angles you capture different shadows. Later when viewing the pictures, your brain combines the shadows in both pictures and creates the 3D effect.

That being said, shadows are important. As you noticed in Step 3, one of the pictures shows the CPU standing straight-up. At the time this seemed like an ideal position; however, it didn't produce enough shadows so the object looked flat.

The light box(tent) removes shadows, so macro shooting can be difficult. But, without the light box(tent) any direct light will caused detail to be lost. You may be thinking, "Why not use indirect light?" Simple answer, it was too dark.

Experiment with different angles and depths of field. The angle I used for the final image was discovered just by playing around - rotating the CPU in my hand while looking for interesting angles. The lighting can be adjusted to achieve different results as well. If you aren't producing enough shadows then maybe you should diffuse some of the light or use less light.

Step 5: Import, Arrange & View the Pictures

This is where the opitonal USB cable may or may not come into play.

1. Upload the pictures to your PC via your standard method
2. Open your favorite image editing program that has a cropping tool and the ability to combine pictures
3. Add each picture to a larger picture taking care to ensure the right aligned picture is placed on the right*
4. Save and/or Print the larger picture

To view in 3D:
1. Cross your eyes while looking at the picture
2. Focus on the image that appears in the middle

If you cannot see the image or are having trouble focusing then you may be too close or too far away from the image. While looking at the image on your monitor try being ~12" away (printed image ~18" away).

And there you have it, your own 3D image that's a bit more interesting than a MagicEye. Make sure to comment your thoughts and suggestions. This is my first instructable so hopefully it passes muster.


  • If you transpose the pictures the 3D effect may still be achieved; however, it may not be as crisp and it could be more difficult to initially see the image in the middle.

First of all, there should be some prize or reward for people who takes crisp and sharp photos for their instructables! I am tired of all those blurred photos from other instructables so that looking at your paper clip was refreshing! Secondly, I could never see 3D images using crossed-eyes view. I don't know if I'm not trained to that, or if myopia makes it more difficult. Whenever I look at my finger, the background (i.e. the supposed 3D picture) gets unfocused. On the other hand, I can use parallel-eyes easily.
Thanks for the comment about the paper clip and instructable in general! When I do the cross-eyed method I don't focus on my finger. I cross my eyes - generating three cpu's then I focus on the middle one.
Yes, I understand that. Maybe I'm not trained enough or maybe I simply can't use the crossed-eye view without special equipment. I understand I need to focus on the middle image, but it seems I can't (or I'm not trained enough) do that while looking at my finger.<br/><br/>On the other hand, I can do easily the parallel view (maybe I'm just used to it). If you look at <a rel="nofollow" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereoscopy">Wikipedia article</a>, some of the image pairs are for parallel view and others are for cross view.<br/><br/>If you swap the left and right images of your CPU, then they will be for parallel view, and then I'm able to see it. However, some people might need some equipment to do that.<br/><br/>My suggestion is that you should post both versions (parallel and crossed views) on your instructable.<br/><br/>(another small suggestion is to convert the inches to centimeters too)<br/>
Oh, just to make it clear: Crossed-eye view: you move your eyes like viewing something nearer than the paper/screen (something between you and the paper). People try to archieve this by looking at a pencil or a finger. Parallel view: you move your eyes like viewing something farther than the paper/screen (something behind the paper). People try to archieve this by focusing on a light reflection on the paper/screen, or by bringing the paper close to the nose and then moving it away slowly. Of course, both techniques generate 3 images out of those two, and only the middle one has the 3D effect.
The first time I got a working view of one of those &quot;magic eye&quot; pictures, I was looking through mu dad's glasses. he's a bit cross-eyed so he needs some prism in his glasses. This helped me to see it. after that I got the trick of looking &quot;past&quot; the pictures to see the hidden image.<br/><br/>These 3d pictures would be better viewed by arranging them for parallel view and looking with a stereoscope (AKA stereopticon), which would have (for ease of viewing) prismed lenses. <em>Hmm, there's an instructable idea, make your own stereopticon prism.</em><br/>
You can do video in the same way, and it's easier in some ways, because you don't have to worry about synchronizing flashes etc. Just get two cheapish still cameras that can record nice 640x480 video (many can these days) and mount them side by side. You can do the synchronisation later in editing and the most you will be out by is 1/30th of a second, which is perfectly ok. You can then assemble your video into one big 1280x480 video and watch it on your monitor with the cross-eye technique. The main problem with all stereo stuff is viewing it afterwards. 3D monitors and HMDs are not very common and often have problems working with video cards.
UBER!!!!! Good instructable, I was able to see the effect bot ways, straight eye and crossed. Great Job!!!
Wow, Thats cool. I bet stick figure animations would be cool like this.
If you give it a shot make sure you send me a link of the finished product. I think it may be hard to get you eyes to focus on a moving image...but it would definitely be cool to see.
You can also combine these pictures to make the old Red/Blue pictures, super easy with a program called StereoPhoto Maker. Delaypat
I had the same problem with my old eyes as robgonzo. So I used paint shop pro to reduce the medium sized image by about 25% - hey presto, the 'straight eye' technique works for me :D
Hey, glad it works for you (I like the diy technique applied to diy article). I'm finding that the larger the image the harder it can be to obtain the 3D effect. I printed the pictures (right and left) out on 5"x7" photo paper and have them hanging in my cube. Several of my colleagues, both young and old, just can't seem to see it. I spent all night "seeing" the image and at work it's a wee bit trickier. Of course the glare from the office lighting doesn't help... Out of curiosity, is it easier/harder for you to "see" the MagicEye pictures?
I could see it! It was really cool!!!
These pictures are awesome! : )
That's pretty slick
Awesome! I just got it! To get to the full size image, click on the "i" in the upper left of the image, click "original" in the left sidebar, and click "download original."
Cool I didn't think you guys stored the full size image. That's nice...makes for good downloading.
great job. I might try this sometime...
While I myself prefer cross-eyed stereo, you can also create a wall-eyed stereo pair by putting the left image on the left and the right image on the right. To please all people (those that can see stereo pairs, anyway), arrange your images in the following order: Left - Right - Left. This way wall-eyed viewers can look at the left pair, and cross-eyed viewers can use the right pair.<br/><br/>Additionally, you don't need to use a light-box setup at all. For any still image (streets, houses, plants, whatever), just take a second picture of your subject after moving your camera to the right. Move it only a few inches to reproduce your actual experience, move it a lot to increase the 3D effect (and make the scene feel smaller). Just make sure that you're aiming your camera so that both lines of sight are <em>parallel</em>, rather than aimed in at your subject.<br/>
Well said in the second paragraph. I tried to make that point in the last step, but I think you articulated it better. For the close up shot, the lightbox worked for me because I couldn't achieve the lighting I wanted by just placing the object on/near some light.
A floating CPU just took over my desktop! Nice job.
Wow, that's an great compliment. Thanks!
Nice. I used to take outdoor 3D shots by using two disposable cameras stuck together. Some of them turned out pretty nice. <br/>You <em>should</em> be able to use the &quot;straight eye&quot; technique to view this image as well. In other words try to look past the image. I can almost get it but it's just a bit too wide or maybe my eyes are too old.<br/>Either way, nice job.<br/>
Very nice job. It looks a bit tricky to get the alignment right, especially with larger, more complex forms. Good job on the light box too!

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