This Instructable documents reproducing a black and white image using laser cut strips of paper. Each paper strip is printed with a gradient, then laser cut to a depth matching a specific column of pixels from the source image. The strips can be thought of as a cross section of the height map of the image.
Step 1: The Strip
I wrote Octave code that would sample columns of pixels at a fixed interval and convert this column of intensities into a vector drawing. Black pixels would be set to a minimum distance and white pixels were set to the maximum strip width. This vector drawing was saved as an SVG. In a separate jpg file, a gradient spanning the strips width was created.
Step 2: The Support
To guide the gluing of the strips, I laser cut a pattern into several 1/4” thick wood panels. Each guide line is 1/16” apart. I varied their appearance to avoid confusion. I backed the panels with a frame for support.
Step 3: 3. Printing, Cutting, Folding and Gluing, 2880 Times
Each piece of paper was first printed with several gradients, and then laser cut. I folded each strip at its base at about a 30 degree angle, using the guide shown, to give the piece some volume. Then I glued each strip in place following the guide lines, using a pH neutral glue. It took 3 strips to span the vertical distance. The total number of strips for the 60” wide piece was 2880.