3D Lenticular Printing Using Photoshop and Inkjet Printer




I have been in the lenticular printing industry for over 30 years. Back in the old days we had to...

3D lenticular print is a way to present 3D effect on a flat surface.  The idea is to use a plastic sheet with many lined lenses so that light will be refracted in different angle for our left and right eyes.  When an image behind the lenticular sheet is designed in such a way that one image will be seen by the left eye and another image will be seen by the right eye a 3D effect will be rendered by our brain.

Lenticular sheet can be purchase online from microlens.com at about $5.00 per piece.  In this tutorial we assume you will use the 8" x 10" 40 LPI lenticular sheet.  We further assume that only two pictures will be taken.  If you use LPI other than 40 and if you want to take more pictures to make the final image less sensitive to horizontal head movement then please refer to the original tutorial in the 3D Lenticular Printing Tutorial section of vicgi.com

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Step 1: Take Two Pictures With Binocular Disparity

Find an object of interested about 2m from the camera, then take two pictures along a straight line with the displacement between the left and right about 60mm.

Refer to the instructable on how to make a track for the camera to move horizontally, https://www.instructables.com/id/Stereo-Photography-Track-quick-and-dirty .

You can also purchase the slider bar for about $100 from http://www.stereoscopy.com/jasper/slide-bars.html.

Alternatively, just tie the camera on a die-cast model car and move it along a straight line.

If you just want to do it as an exercise, you can download the two high resolution pictures in this step.

Step 2: Find the Key Plane of Lenticular Picture

Once the pictures are taken, conceptually divide the picture into three planes, i.e. the foreground, the middle-ground, and the background.

Now make the decision which will be the focal plane.  A focal plane is the plane that does not have parallax.  In other word the left and right eyes will be seeing the same image on the focal plane.

If you choose the foreground as the key plane, everything behind the foreground will go into inside of the lenticular picture.  If you choose the middle-ground as focal plane, the foreground will pop out of the picture and the background will go into the picture.  If you choose the background as the focal plane, the middle-ground and the foreground will pop out of the picture with the foreground being closer to your eyes.

Step 3: Align a Common Point on the Key Plane

Now find a point on the focal plane.  The purpose is to align this point so that the x-y coordinate of this point will be the same on both the left and the right picture. For the two pictures in step-1 as example, we can choose the pot as the foreground and as the focal plane, or we can choose the table and chair at the middle-ground as the focal plane.  For the sake of exercise let's choose the latter, i.e. the table and chair as the focal plane.

Open both picture in Photoshop.  Copy and paste the right picture on top of the left picture.  Adjust the [Opacity] of the right picture to about 50% so you can see through it and the left picture below it.

Now choose the [Move] tool from the tool bar and then press the [Right] arrow on the keyboard multiple times so that the most forefront table legs overlap.

You can adjust the [Opacity] of the right image back to 100% now.

Step 4: Crop the Image to Account for the Shift During Alignment

Because of the alignment in the previous step, the right picture has shifted to the right leaving some empty space on the left.  Use the crop tool from the tool box to crop the image to eliminate the empty space.

Step 5: Resize the Image

Resize the [Resolution] of the image to 720 dpi if you are going to use an Epson printer.  Resize it to 600 dpi if you are going to use an HP or a Canon printer.

Once the resolution is adjusted, resize the width or height so they will match the size of the lenticular sheet you have.

Step 6: Create a Mask for the Left and Right Image

Create a new file of the same size as the picture.  Draw some vertical bars 9 pixel wide and 9 pixels apart.  For the left picture you will need the mask start with white stripe and then black stripe.  But for the right picture you will need the mask start with black stripe and then white stripe. Flatten this image.  Press [Ctrl-A] to select all and the [Ctrl-C] to copy and put the pattern into the clipboard.  We will need to paste it over the mask of the left and right image in the next step.

Step 7: Interlace Each Image With the Mask Created

Go back to the original file with the left and right image. 

Create a mask for each of the layers by clicking the little [Mask] button on the [Layer] palette, i.e. the third one from the left.

Bring up the [Channel] palette and  highlight the mask layer under [Channel].  Paste the left patten we did in the previous step over to the mask layer.

Highlight the right layer on the [Layer] palette.  Repeat the same for the right layer, i.e. paste the pattern for the right layer, the one starts with black stripe, to the mask layer under [Channel].

Step 8:

Flatten the final image.  Print it on photo glossy paper.  Put your lenticular lens on top to do some careful alignment.

If your lenticular sheet has adhesive backing then you will need to use a cold laminator to do the lamination.  If it doesn't have adhesive backing then try to tape it in position.

Voila! Your 3D DIY lenticular print is done.

As you can see making a single sheet of lenticular print is very tedious.  If you need volume mass production you should consider hire a lenticular printing company to do it.

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    16 Discussions


    9 months ago

    It was awesome to learn but hadn't applied yet hope it works

    Peanut Boy

    Tip 1 year ago on Step 6

    It appears that the line width in pixels is 1/2 the resolution (720) divided by the lines per inch of your lenticular sheet (40). 720/40=18, 18/2=9 How you came up with line width should be explained.


    2 years ago

    Hello. I realize no one's commented since 2015, but I was wondering if you have to use an inkjet printer for creating a lenticular image. What about a photo printing service like Photobucket or Shutterfly?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If it works for you that's great. But I don't think Manfrotto357 has the capability to control the camera displacement, i.e. the distance between pictures. We have come up with a automated solution. It is a dolly that has the control panel for adjusting the distance between each shot and the speed, check it out, www.3dependable.com.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    So you are saying your dolly is only about $120 then? (You don't display your prices, which is always suspect and indicative of pre-internet era companies that distrust the medium.)

    Of course, creating the images in the Manfrotto 357 can be done as quickly as your dolly, or even more quickly. The length of the slide is approximately the same as the distance between the pupils of adults, or just slightly wider for a slightly exaggerated depth. Adding a shim can shorten that distance and make it more shallow.

    If someone wants to take photos further apart, say to enhance the 3D of a deep landscape, then the LONG bar for the Manfrotto 357 is about $90 and includes a MM scale/ruler. I found one here that shows the length and scale:


    Naturally, even a MM scale/ruler on a standard Manfrotto 357 will achieve the desired result, and a table of distances from the camera and the speed to the distance the camera must move can be easily and quickly made. Or a smartphone tablet app. Or, simply a spreadsheet with the formula embedded. There are many ways to give the photographer the needed separation, if it is needed at all.

    Trial and error experimentation will give most photographers everything they need to successfully create stereographic images sufficient for lenticular imaging.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, this method works for flip lenticular. But flip lenticular requires much higher precision. You should conduct a pitch test to get the true line density of the lens. For example, if your lens is 40lpi but you found that it is actually 40.05 lpi, then you will make 4 layer of image 1, and 4 image of image 2 with totally 8 layers. 8 x 40.05 = 320.4. Resize your Photoshop file to 320.4 dpi and then use the procedures described in the tutorial.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You don't have to use glossy paper. But definitely you cannot use plain paper because the ink dots will spread to a larger area and that will affect the precision. I suggested gloss paper because the ink dots will be more precise. You can also use high quality matte paper meant for inkjet, such as the one sold by Epson.


    4 years ago

    Thank you for posting this! I got an idea and you kindly put all the resources right here! I'll tell you what I do when I do it, thank you so much!

    i want a photo that has five images that shift from one side of the room to the next.... all images will be the same except for the position of the heads... every head in the photo will turn as if following you around the room...... any info on that trick?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I was wondering how do you draw the mask?
    I don't know how you draw the 9 black stripes in photoshop?
    I you could help me out, it would be fantastic.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    you can try this link



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the great instructable!
    I was thinking of purchasing this guys kit?
    What do you think? It is quite $$$.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    3dphotopro is run by Igor Kurchavov who is also a master of lenticular printing. I respect Igor for all his work but I don't know how good his kit is. You should contact Igor through his email link on his site. Igor is a nice guy.

    By the way, we have posted more 3D lenticular printing tutorials on our site since the last post. Check them out, 3D Lenticular Tutorials.