Adventures of a Lenticular Virgin, Part I: The First Encounter

This is the first in an ongoing series in learning the art of lenticular design from the beginning from M.S. in Industrial Design, Marnina Herrmann.

I never really put any thought into 3D printing prior to being asked to write for this blog. Why would I? As a designer I was always most drawn to Swiss Modernism, the minimal of the minimal. To me 3D was just, well, kitsch. But admittedly I’ve been known to make snap judgments so I figured that if I was going to write about the technology I should probably a) think about it for more than 30 seconds and b) actually see what I can do with it.  So, I started to examine the technology and to really think about it. The first conclusion I came to is that lenticular printing is a technology and technologies aren’t kitschy. Just because I have seen some tacky stuff doesn’t mean I should write off everything. That would be like refusing to see Avatar because the 3D movie showing at the local theme park was cheesy!  So here it is, my introduction to lenticular design for beginners.

Admittedly, I was skeptical about Avatar too, but after seeing the extended version in IMAX, I was a 3D movie convert.

Then I began to think about the pictures I took on my last vacation. I went to Iceland, a remote pile of volcanic rocks up by the Arctic Circle. Don’t I make it sound lovely? Truthfully though, it’s a great place and the pictures I took just don’t do it justice. They all seem . . . well . . . flat! How cool would it be if in a single picture I could show the process of gannet taking off into the sky? A geyser exploding?  The depth of a canyon? Maybe there is something to this lenticular stuff after all!

With all these awesome ideas in mind I logged onto SnapilyPro to get started. Since I really had no idea what I was doing I figured a good first step would be to download the PDF tutorial.  The whole 15 page thing scared me a bit at first but there are pictures and blank pages so no worries! My next minor panic attack happened when I got to the section entitled lenses. Camera lenses are expensive stuff! I didn’t want to buy a new one just so I could write some blog post! Again though, no worries! Lenticular lenses do not refer to camera lenses, but rather the plastic lenses that cover the photos in order to produce the 3D or animated effects. That’s a relief!

The next thing I noticed was how many different effects lenticular printing could produce. Who knew?! There was 3D, flip, zoom and morph. Based on the tutorial instructions it appears as if the flip affect is the easiest to achieve. All you need is two pictures. But that wouldn’t make for a very interesting series of posts so 3D it is!

My Icelandic adventures would be awesome in 3D, don't you think?

The first thing I noticed was that the tutorial was very vague on what needed to be done. There were all sorts of file details but no explanation as to what should actually go into the file! What do all these layers consist of?! In a situation like this only one place to turn and that’s Google. Without too much trouble I found a tutorial for how to set up a photo shoot.

The photo-shoot itself is quite the process and so will be discuss in my next post: Check out Adventures of a Lenticular Virgin Part 2: The Photo Shoot.

Stay tuned!

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Marnina Herrmann is a graphic designer who originally hails from Toronto, Canada. She is currently living in Haifa, Israel and is completing her MSc in Industrial Design at the Technion.

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