Tracy's Creative Image Tutorials

3D images (two separate images merged to simulate depth) Free Learning center

Creating 3D images


This tutorial is aimed at 3D but goes by many names such as stereoscopy, Anaglyphs, stereoscopic imaging or just 3D (three-dimensional) imaging. The technique was discovered in the early 1800's and refined at the beginning of the early 1900's. 3D-imaging can create the illusion of depth by using two normal images taken at a distance apart. This illusion works because we each have two eyes that perceive depth by receiving a different image from each eye. Each image received by your eyes is about three inches apart thanks to our eyeball spacing. For this tutorial you will need glasses with cyan over one eye and red over the other. A 3D-image product is a red and a blue altered image merged together. Thanks to the red and blue glasses each eye mostly sees only one of the images at a time and thus gives the feeling of seeing the object from slightly different angles.

1) Go straight to Anaglyph-Maker Tutorial

2) Go straight to Photoshop color 3D image tutorial

3) Go straight to Photoshop 3D Black and White image tutorial

4) Show me the video of Photoshop making 3D images


3D Beam Image

A three dimensional beam sticks out from rail road material


Photographing 3D Images:

Start out by choosing a subject. The best is subject matter where something is protruding or sticking-out toward the viewer. There are many items of interest so long as you take advantage of the illusion of depth like an aircraft's sharp nose or a metal beam sticking out of a junk pile.

It is easier to take photos of objects or landscapes because the photos work best when they are as identical as possible. Images of people can work provided the people do not move in the time it takes to snap two photos. Take your first photo, and then try to slide the camera over about 3 inches and take the same photo again. Moving the camera the distance of your left eye and right eye is the idea. A very common mistake is to snap the pictures too far apart. The images are then impossible to align to one another. Many suggest a twenty degree separation between images. In this way you can keep the three-inch distance but photographing images of mountains and far away objects gets much further apart. Again about a twenty degree difference is best.

If the images are of far away mountains then the distance between images can be further in order to give depth. One of the tricks is keeping the reference point standard in both images. For instance take the first picture of the flower with the camera's cross hairs directly on a specific point on the flower. Then take the second shot approximately three inches away, keeping the center cross-hairs on the same exact spot. This will help to keep similarity in the pictures. Refine your 3D-image photographing ability with these other guidelines. Keep your image in complete focus. Avoid objects in the foreground that are not the main focus because they will ruin your good registration with what is known as "Parallax". Avoid taking any images at a tilted angle. Lastly, try and keep the camera straight up and down. You will get better and better at taking these type images once you see how the results come out. Now that you have your images what is next?


Downloading 3D Images:

Assure that when downloading images from a digital camera that you keep track of which image is for the left-eye and which is for the right-eye. At minimum remember the sequence you took the images and labeling them as "Left-eye" or "Right-eye" and that will help a great deal. The best way is to take a picture and then slide right. In this way the first numbered image on the camera is always the left eye like reading left to right. One of the main reasons for getting the correct image in its place is to assure you don't cross the viewer's eyes when you make your final product. Eliminating eyestrain for your viewer is very important when making this type of illusion.

Model in 3D

Assembling 3D Images:

Okay, it's time to put those 3D-glasses on. One can buy some really quality 3D glasses if you look around on the internet.

While putting the images together notice that sometimes you get a blue or red halo around objects. You will want to move your pictures around until these halos are as minimized as possible with little or no overlap. In this way you make sure the images are as registered together as possible. If the images at this point still don't perfectly register try to at least get the main point of focus lined up.

When you look at the images below it becomes obvious where the red and blue halos or ghosting occurred toward the background. While putting stereo images together it is not as obvious where the edges of the images are sometimes. Look at the edges while you are using your 3D glasses and the program like Anaglyph-maker to slide one image or another around. You'll suddenly see where the edge of each image differs. While still moving the image place them so that you see only one image.


3D Stump from Pine Canyon NM

A three dimensional stump and hole that sinks inward



Free Software


Anaglyph Maker Tutorial:

Created with Anaglyph Maker

Anaglyph Maker is a freeware program does a terrific job. This program produces both black and white as well as color 3D images.

Click here to Download Anaglyph Maker V1.08 by Takashi Sekitani

1) The first cool thing about the program Anaglyph Maker is that you don't need to install it or run setup. You can unzip it into a convenient folder and run it right from there.

2) Once the program is running click on the Load-left-image button in the top left of the screen. Find the left-eye image you photographed or try out the demo provided by the program. Next click the Open button and do the same for the Load-right-image button.

3) Make your viewing screen as large as possible (maximize it). Then choose Make 3D image button from the left of the screen. The screen will expand to maximum size with your newly merged image.

4) Notice mostly around edges you see halos. Use the cross shaped controls to line those up as much as possible. The 5R and 5L are the best by moving 5 spaces across in one click. Keep clicking. In the most important focus area get rid of both blue and red overlap. The halos toward the back or outter parts of the image aren't as important.

5) When you are happy with the illusion of your 3D image choose Save 3D Image button from the left of the screen. In the next box choose JPG as the format and save it where you desire.


Congratulations on completing your 3D image!





Photoshop can also put together 3D images. The following video shows this tutorial in video form. If you are the type person who learns faster from watching than reading the below video may be for you. Here I create a 3D image in a few minutes. Once you see the process as shown in the video you'll get how the images work together for the illusion of 3D. Feel free to send me feedback if this tutorial works for you or maybe why it didn't. I've just put up a feedback area in the icon at the bottom of the screen. Happy Stereoscoping!



Photoshop Color 3D Image Tutorial:

(Ten steps to manually creating a 3D anaglyph with Photoshop)

For this tutorial you have Photoshop and want to create color 3D images. I've finally rewritten this and I think you'll agree it is a bit smoother.

1) The first thing you need to do is open the left and right images you have photographed.

2) Once they are opened copy them into the same document as follows. On the image you took for the Left-Eye select it by holding the Ctrl key and pressing the "A" key at the same time (Control-A), Next copy this image to the clipboard with (Control-C). Paste the copied image over top your Right-Eye image by going to your new document window and using (Control-V). Your image will be pasted as a new layer. You'll want to label this layer in the layers pallete as Left-Eye by right-clicking on the layer and then typing Left-Eye. Label the Background image as the Right-Eye layer.

3) Now select the Left-eye layer in the Layers pallette. Select the top layer (left or right) and in the top of the layers box where it currently says Normal change the drop down menu to Screen.

4) Make sure the Right-eye layer is selected and go to the menu labeled Image > Adjustments > Levels or (Control-L) This will open the following box. Again, open the Level dialog box with (Control-L). Select the Green layer in the pull down and change the Output Level to 0. Without leaving the levels window use the pull down menu to select the Blue layer and change the Output Level to 0. Left-click OK to accept these values. This should turn the top right-eye layer to bright red.

5) Left-click the Left-eye layer. Again, open the Level dialog box with (Control-L)In the drop down the top menu and select the Red channel. Now, at the bottom where it says Output Levels. Change the 255 to 0 and left-click OK. This should change your layer to a green-blue color (cyan).

6) This is a good time to refine your image. Put on your 3D glasses and continue to move the layers around for a more 3D perfect appearance using your Move tool. Use your arrow keys to move the top images around in small increments when aligning.

7) Now for the advanced adjustment you can transform one of your layers for a more perfect fit between stereo images. If you hold Ctrl while pressing "T" (Ctrl-T) then it will give you points for pulling the corners of the image you have selected and will warp that image. The "T" in this case is to transform the image in question. This is useful when the red fringe or halo of one image is too large regardless of how you move it. Remember that by holding down the Ctrl key by itself while you pull these individual control points around your image and isolate pulling only one corner if needed. Be careful because this can quickly distort your image. This step helps you warp the two images closer than other automatic programs can do at this time.

8) There will be some borders where you have moved your image in order to line them up. You should crop these borders away. To do this, use the crop tool and select the portion of your image that is inside of these borders. You need to select a portion of the image that doesn't include these extra borders. Press enter when you've framed your cropped area. This will resize your image so that both eyes take up the entire field.

9) Go to Save Image As (Control-Shift-S) and save it as a jpeg with the name you like

10) You are finished and contrat on making a 3D image!

3D Statue boy created by using Photoshop

3D image of a statue near the pioneer museum in COS



Photoshop BW 3D Image Tutorial:

(Down and dirty 3D using Photoshop or another paint program)

1) Once both pictures are open, convert them both to grayscale by clicking on Image in the menu bar and selecting Mode then Grayscale.  

2) Convert the right photo back to red, green, and blue (RGB) by clicking Image on the menu bar and selecting Mode then RGB (the image will still appear gray).

3) In the Channels tab (of the layers palette between the LAYERS and PATHS tabs), select the red channel by clicking on the word Red - not the little eye next to it (eyes indicate which channels are displayed, not selected). Only that channel should appear highlighted.  

4) Go back to the left photo and select the entire photo by holding the Ctrl and pressing the "A" key at the same time [Ctrl-A] this selects 'all'. Next copy the image by holding the Ctrl key and pressing "C" to copy at the same time [Ctrl-C]. Paste the image using the keys [Ctrl-V].

5) Now you are ready to complete the merging of the left and right images. Go back to the channels palette. Click on the channel box next to RGB. An eye should appear in all four channels. You should now have a mostly black and white image with red and blue halos. By halos I mean red and blue images overlapping like double vision.

6) The final step is to crop the image down to the size you want using the crop tool located in the tool bar (left hand column, third tool down). Try to remove areas of excess red or blue around the edges. Once you have selected the area of the image you want to keep hit Enter to crop the image. Now that you are done, don't forget to save.

When you look at your image using red/blue 3D glasses you should see the scene appear in 3D. Remember to never save the changes to the original photos, always work with a copy. It may be helpful to adjust the alignment while watching through 3D glasses. This completes the black and white version. For more flexibility and adjustments try the color tutorial from the tutorial above.



Created with Zoner 3D

You can also pay for a 3D package. The program Zoner 3D Photomaker does a teriffic job as well. The wizard that guides you in this program is excellent. This program produces both black and white as well as colored 3D images. It doesn't seem to produce as bright and vivid a product as some manually-created examples, but works fine. Again the interface and wizard on this program are intuitive.


As a note, the freeware program called Z-Anaglyph was fair but too difficult to move the images around if they were not already perfectly registered or overlayed correctly. Look around for this program if others don't fit your needs.

Feedback Forum
3D Glasses


Written Sep07 and Updated May10 by Tracy Rose