3D-tizing Photos




About: Have 30+ years of experiences as a Mixed Signal IC Design Engineer.

Make any photo 3D using GIMP.


Step 1: Viewing_3D

This example shows how small the lateral distortion on photos need to be 
in order to achieve a 3D effect.

Examples for parallel viewing and cross eyed viewing are shown below.

Step 2: Fire_Up_GIMP

The open source Gimp application contains a filter called iWarp.
This filter can distort photos in many funny ways.
A jpeg file containing two identical photos can be found below.
After loading them into GIMP, the following should be the result. 

Step 3: IWarp

Only the move mode will be used.
The deform radius and amount will be varying.
It is not a bad idea to resize the Iwarp window to view the preview better.

Step 4: Do_Distortion

When one views 3D in the parallel mode,
moving images in the two picture towards each other will make them appear closer.

For this example, moving background images by around 1mm away from each other
appears to cause the hair to stand out.
The preview window can display the results in real time.

If one prefers the cross eye method,
then the movement needs to be done in the opposite direction.

Step 5: Start_Big

Ideally one would want to move the head in both pictures as whole units
towards each other.

But the movement tool appears to be done perhaps like an air brush.
Movements as small as 1mm really stand out. 

Step 6: Work_Down

To add depth within a face, a smaller radius is needed. 

This example has only added 3D details to things like the nose and mustache. 

Step 7: So_Little_Is_Needed

This example mainly shows that the magnitude of lateral distortion needed
to 3D-tize a photo appears to be pretty small.

It would not be hard to write some software to do this
using a modifiable standard face template.

The movement of the pixels can best be displayed on a grid.
The movement of the pixels within a midrange radius are as such.

Step 8: May_Need_Better_Tools

Here is an attempt to do a Lincoln Photo.

Doing 3D details around the eyes would require some small and precise movement.
Something like a mesh map plugin might be needed. 



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    13 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago on Introduction

    I am in an area of your site I have never been to before. Very surprising

    3 months ago on Step 8

    The black and white president Lincoln art is nearly perfect. I cant pick out a flaw


    Reply 3 months ago

    Maybe 5 years ago if someone told me that not only someone could do stuff like this, I would walk away in disbelief but... it would be me!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks.. I hope some people see how easy it is to do this, and it gives them some ideas about what else can be done.


    3 months ago on Step 1

    Hello. This looks a funny picture but I really did look like that 40 years ago.


    8 years ago on Step 8

    These photos remind me of the photo cards used with a Stereoptican. Might be worth a try to modify it for producing them. Repro stereopticans were available on ebay. Probably still are but I haven't looked recently. Using a Stereoptican is a lot easier on the eyes than looking at the pics crosseyed.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    I am fortunate to be able to view stereoptican pictures right off a web page. These pictures are in the format where they can be printed up (so long as the scaling is right). Vewing them with a Stereoptican does add much more detail.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is awesome, I kept trying to use photoshop and 3d mesh manipulation programs (blender is free) to do this and never got a result that good, I'll try to make one with red/blue filters so it is less tiring for the eyes. May the last dinosaur be with you. Ssslouter

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The iwarp tool come pretty close to being ideal. Being able to restrict movement to the horizontal direction could improve things. Having marching ants show the size of the deforming radius would also add precision. If iWarp had a button to switch back and forth between distorted and predistorted images, then some detail distortion could be applied to things like the eyes and lips. If iWarp had these features, it might be an easier method than using a mesh. By the way, how did you locate this instructable? I was sent a email saying this instructable became popular. But I don't see how a person can find it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    someone should make a plugin for that. I found the ible by browsing through the technology section. May the last dinosaur be with us. Ssslouter


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! I like your layers and depth comments. They give enough information to make it work by hand. And if you ever get someone to write the software to automate this with face templates or other means, it should end up as a permanent add-on to the GIMP.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. The trouble with writing software like this, is that better solutions keep get published out on the web all the time. I am just learning GIMP, and there still may be better tools in GIMP to check out. Right now, the perspective transform run under a script looks like for me the shortest path to the face template.