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New Dimensions in Graphics: A Look at Lenticular Displays

(February 2012) posted on Wed Feb 08, 2012

This article demystifies the process of producing lenticular designs and describes how modern imaging technology simplifies the associated workflow.


By Jeff Miller

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3D design for lenticular printing isn’t taught in very many formal design programs and frankly, the percentage of designers who have designed in 3D is small. But this is changing, and we are seeing designers embrace lenticular design.

The good news is that high-quality 3D lenticular design can be learned quickly, and it’s easier to master the strategies and techniques for lenticular design than ever before. Most designers today use individual layers for each element in their designs. Designing in layers allows for existing 2D designs to be converted into 3D lenticular-ready files by setting the individual layers into depth planes. It is also possible to assign volume and change a flat layer into a layer with shape. Adding volume to a key focal point layer, like a face and torso, can provide a powerful 3D illusion.

Along with using the individual layers to create the illusion of depth, you’ll need to apply some basic principles of 3D design to give the viewer a strong sense of depth and perspective. In many cases, designers do this with design elements that are carefully sized and proportioned to support their placement in the foreground and carry viewers’ focus to the background. As a consumer, you see this technique in new video-game designs and in 3D animated movies; the effect is similar when the technique is applied to 3D print design. Your team can be trained to convert 2D files to 3D and prepare lenticular 3D files for printing, and you can provide this as a service to your clients looking for 3D but lacking the expertise to create 3D files. Now you’re ready to print, but you’ll want to have the appropriate software and hardware.

Software
Several software programs contain new tools that allow for high quality 3D design for lenticular printing. Adobe Photoshop, for example, uses layers for designing. In CS4 Extended, Adobe delivered a new set of features just to set up layered files for 3D and tools for interlacing and printing. Adobe took its 3D-creation tools to yet another level with the launch of CS5 and added powerful options and actions for the creation of 3D text and graphics that can translate beautifully to 3D lenticular printing.


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