3D Family Portrait




Oh gosh - it's mom's birthday and you've no idea for a present?
Relax - here is a wholehearted one!

I created a collage out of some pictures and arranged them in third dimension.

The principle is very easy.  All you need is 3 to 4 (or more, depending on the count of layer you want to create) identic photos of each person you want to recreate in 3d. As you know, the new 3d cameras are pretty cool - but they don't help, if you only have only old pictures  - no 3d Glasses and so on.
But what would happen, if you slice identic picutres into different shapes, depending on the real depth of each the part of the pictures and arrange them in different heights?

The viewer will ne tricked by his eyes and brain. Because of combination of the informations of the image and the different heights human brain will assamble the slices into one curved surface. That nearly magic ^^

Okay - I'm german, not good in english - so I'll go on and explain what to do.

First of all - the materials and tools you'll need:

  -  Photos of the person /thing you want to recreate in 3d (3 - 4 identic images)
  -  Canvas (or heavy carton (above 250g/m²)
  -  double faced adhesive tape
  -  pins (withoud colored heads)
  -  ruler or folding meter
  -  scissor

--- and a little bit time ^^ ---

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Step 1: Step 1 - Editing the Pictures With PS/Gimp Etc.

Step One:

The first thing we need, is a photo.

I decided so take some pictures from the 85th birthday of my grandmother.

The advantage of using photos which were taken on the same location is, that the lightning inside the room will be nearly the same. That can help to create the 3d effect.

In my case, I had to cut out the persons and I also wanted to change the look of the images.

To do that, I opened the images in Photoshop and started to isolate the faces from the background. If you don't have Photoshop, you could use GIMP or such software as well.

Due to the fact, that I like working on a non destructive way, I usked masks to paint out the areas I don't need.
If it is needed, resize the images after that step.

For my collage, I use a oval black background. This helps to create a contrast between the images and the white canvas.

The last step was a color effect. I decided to use a sepia tone for the pictures.

After I saved all images, I went to the supermarket and used their photoprinter to get pictures in perfect quality and on a heavy paper - and of course, the photopaper is.

In the next step, we'll cut out the first layer photos and arrange them on the canvas.

Step 2: Step 2 - Rough Arrangement on Canvas

Step 2

Back from supermarket, the first part was so cut out the first layer of photos.
Take the scissor and cut out image, following the background/frame you created.

Arrange the photos roughly on the canvas.

Step 3: Step 3 - Fixing the Photos

Step 3

Slice the double-sided tape in small stripes and stick it to the backside of the photos.
Don't remove the coat - we need to finish the arrangement.

Of course - you can arrange it in that way you want. I mesured the canvas and divided the result through the wide of the pictures. So you'll get the distance between the border of the pictures and the border of the canvas. In my case, it has been ca. 4,1 cm.

Put the pictures at the right place - and (if needed) make some little marks with a softlead pencil.

Remove the coating only one side of the picture and stick it on the canvas.

After you've done this, continue removing all remaining protection coat from the double-sided tape and stick it completly on the canvas.

Step 4: Step 4 - Creating the 3d Effect

Step 4

Creating the 3D Effect.

Now, you've to cut out the different layers for the 3d effect.
It is depending on the photo, the angle/perspective and the scene of the image.

Lay the photos on the top of each other - start with the bigges and end with the smallest cutout.
Fix them in place with some pins.

Step 5: Step 5 - Layering in Different Heights

Step 5

When you're sure, that the pins stick really strong into the canvas, you can start to change the height of each layer.

This is also depending on the motiv/perspektive and of course, your personal taste.

Continue as far as all layers and pictures are ready...

Use a stripe made of heavy carton or something like this, to change the heigth. Just plug it under a layer and drag it CAREFULY to the top.

Step 6: Step 6 - Finish the 3d Family Portrait

Well - that's all... ^^

Of course, you can beautify this - but I prefer the purism of a white canvas without any further folderol.
Feel free to add colors, namings, patterns and so on.

Of course - it is possible to create a frame for this "3D Family Portrait", when you've got enought time ^^

I hope that you'd fun and my (first) creation of instructables was coherent...

Euer Grayst

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    15 Discussions

    Purple Chez

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Your English is far better (sehr besser?) than my German!! Thanks for the tutorial!!


    6 years ago on Step 6

    Thanks for this Instructable. It looks fun. I must try it out soon, maybe for Christmas.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi stackerjack,

    and thanks a lot.

    My suggestion: use colorful images - and if you really do for Christmas, add some festive elements... on the other hand - that could limit the usability... :-?

    PS: If you recreate, pls let me know and post or email some images - thanks :)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi mpho112,

    thanks - and as I told before - there are a couple of reasons for this atmosphere on the photos i've taken. Use colorful images and background to avoid the look I used.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi loitz40,

    I think I know what you mean. It doesn't look creepy in real but I was not able to catch the plasticity with my camera.

    Another reason for this feeling could be the sepia tone and dark background area of the photos. If you use colorful photos and backgrounds, you should avoid this kind of mood.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea!

    In paper crafting, there are pieces of thin, double-sticky dimensional foam which can affix the layers so that pins aren't needed. (When I think of pins in faces, I sense a "voodoo effect").

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, Nanaverm.

    I thought about the usage of "stamps" out of paper and think that could be a nice option.

    (For me it was no Problem to use pins - I lost my spellbook in dark age ^^)


    6 years ago

    Very clever! Do the pins blend in (look hidden), or did you take them out?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Acuchetto & Thanks :)

    The pins blend out if you look at the collage. You'll see them from side, of course, but in ratio of pins an pictures, they're to small to interrupt the 3d effect...