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Designing For Lenticular

A General Note

Designing great lenticular is not difficult, but there are many tips and tricks we have learned over the years! Benefit from our unmatched experience and let the lenticular experts at Big3D help you make your project the best it can be. We encourage you to call us early in the creative phase to help you avoid common mistakes and to save you time. Discussing your concept before providing final art can save lots of time in revisions, and often one simple change can transform a good lenticular project into an award-winning piece. We are here to help.

Please reference our File Specifications page for complete information on image resolution and file set-up information.

Basic Flips

For a two or three-flip, all you need to provide is the image files for the images that will be flipping.

In general, it is wise to avoid source images that have large areas of "flat" color, especially solid color or all-white backgrounds. These images will tend to have more "ghosting" a term used to describe when the alternate view in a flip slightly shows through. Ghosting can be minimized by introducing textured, "busy" backgrounds, and vivid, vibrant images.

Multi-flip Effects: Zooms Morphs & Animation

Zoom effects work like flips but involve many more flip "views." In general, using darker, cool colors in the background and lighter warm tones for the zooming elements will produce the cleanest zoom effect. The optimum number of views in a zoom will depend on your artwork and how big of an effect you are trying to achieve. Creating 8-10 steps in the zoom is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Morph effects work like zooms but may require up to 20 views to morph smoothly. There is commercially-available software to generate morph frames, or you can ask us to create the morph frames for you from your master images. Call us!


Creating smooth animation effects benefits from high resolution source files. We have done amazing animations from both photo, video and computer-based sources. Sharp, crisp images are essential. If you are planning an animation sequence, please call us to discuss. We will be happy to offer project-specific recommendations to speed up the development process.

The key to great Lenticular 3D is pre-planning the project and designing FOR 3D. The best way to illustrate the thought process behind developing a great 3D piece is by example. If you are planning a 3D project, take a moment and review the steps we took to produce a self-promo piece.

Here is a step by step process of how we built a Great 3D image.

Step 1: Come up with your concept. Our concept is to have an extreme snowboarder in dazzling 3D. For added effect, let's add in some animation. We can obtain the deepest 3D by bringing separate elements into Photoshop and placing each element on separate layers. Photographing in true 3D (by using a multi-lens camera or single camera on a slider or track) provides nice rounding effects, but severely limits the amount of depth available. We create an informal storyboard, similar to what you see in Step 6. This forces us to think about what images we will use for different "depth cues" in the finished piece.

Step 2: We start photographing our elements. We look for a shot that has several of the elements we desire. Blue sky with clouds. Snow capped mountains. Trees at varying distances. A snow covered meadow to help traverse distance. The hill our snowboarder launches from was photographed separately and brought into the foreground. We may photograph individual trees, clouds, and different skies. The airborne snow clumps were thrown in the air and captured in multiple photographs. We combine all our elements for the perfect background composite.

Step 3: Our next task is in our photo studio. We print out the background image and pose our model to conform to the background. The model can be on the ground or suspended from a hoist. We later changed the color of his pants, gloves, and sunglasses for better contrast and depth cues.

Step 4: We bring all our elements into a single Photoshop file. We convert some of our photo shots from 2D into 3D by separating trees from backgrounds, etc. Each element is placed on separate layers. When trees are cut out from the background, we need to clone in the voids created. This is highly detailed work.

Step 5: We add in subtle details to enhance the 3D perception. Adding snow highlights to some of the tree branches gives added contrast and provides better depth cues.

Step 6: We now arrange all our layers in proper order from foreground to background. We make final selections of which elements we will use, and which will be deleted. We also determine how much distance will be between each layer.

Step 7: We chose to add animation to this 3D piece. We selected three different poses for our snowboarder. Each pose is on it's own layer in Photoshop. We also have different airborne snow configurations to go with each snowboard pose. This creates quite a few layers to work with.

3D Depth Image
Step 8: Our final preview of all viewable layers. We make sure our background layer is sufficiently oversized to allow 3D viewing. We group together layers that will be on similar depth planes. We select different combinations of the animation layers for exporting out our viewing angles. This is also when we add special rounding effects to the elements for added realism. We are now ready to print awesome 3D + animation!

There are additional complexities for larger lenticular projects such as murals, billboards and other very large-scale projects. Here are two project studies that illustrate the expertise big3D can bring to these challenging but eye-popping examples of large-scale lenticular.


Country Music Hall of Fame 3D Mural: 12 feet x 24 feet

Country Music Hall of Fame
An exterior view of the magnificent new Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN.

Big3D was commissioned to provide an awesome 3D mural measuring 12 feet tall and 24 feet wide for the opening of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. The 3D photo image is a ranch background with a cowboy leaning against a fence, playing a guitar. Ford is a corporate sponsor of the new Country Music Hall of Fame and the Big3D mural provides a backdrop for Ford's new F-150 truck.

Tom Saville stands next to the 3D mural display during installation.

Big3D communicated file specifications to Ford's agency, J. Walter Thompson. To achieve the best 3D effects, the original photographic image was scanned into Photoshop. Different visual elements of the photo were selected for different visual depth layers.

This view allows you to see the components of the fence, gate, cowboy, clouds, etc. and imagine the depth visible in person. The fence really appears to come out away from the mural and the sky goes into the background for days. The full 3D mural is breathtaking.

The magnitude of the room size dwarfs even a billboard size display.

The large fence and gate images were an obvious choice for extreme foreground imagery. These items were traced/masked and cut out, then placed on a separate transparent layer in Photoshop. Similarly, elements including the horse, cattle, trees, and clouds were cut out and placed on separate layers for 3D manipulation. Wherever an element was cut out from the original photograph, the background now had "holes" which required filling in with "cloning" techniques.

The background layer for the mural was built slightly oversize to allow for the movement necessary (left and right) to create the depth perception/parallax. A grid was created on one layer in Photoshop. This grid marked cut lines for the 12 different tiles which would be created.

For this type of project the maximum physical size for any one tile is 48" x 96", Although Big3D has recently pioneered the printing of even larger sheet sizes, Photoshop still restricts image sizes to 30,000 pixels in any given direction.

Production time for this project was less than two weeks. It was completed ahead of schedule.

The backside of the mural shows the framework support using 80/20 aluminum material.


NASCAR & Coke go Lenticular in a Big3D way!

Big3D.com was the logical choice to create a huge double-sided 3D Lenticular mural display for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and sponsor Coca Cola. The large mural covers both sides of a 40 foot transport trailer and is secured in a frame system for display at the track and during freeway travel. This incredible creation was unveiled by Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Coke at the Pepsi 400 NASCAR race, at Daytona International Speedway.

Below you will find information and images showing how we developed this complex project:

Two views of trailer, left & right, showing both flips.
The Coke bottle flips with the Dale Earnhardt logo.

The Coke bottle flips with the Coca-Cola C2 logo.

Full trailer shot at night in front of Daytona Speedway in Florida. July 3rd, 2004.

Screen capture showing the Coke bottle and the Coca-Cola C2 logo, which will be interlaced to flip.

Screen capture showing the Coke bottle, the C2 logo, a close up of the interlaced artwork, and four interlaced sections showing the panel configuration.

Screen capture showing the entire 39 foot trailer grid with gridlines, as well as a close up on the Dale Earnhardt logo section with ruler lines. All the PSD layers on the right indicate the number of layers of 3D depth for this image.

These photographs are taken during production, showing how each panel must be perfectly phased with all the other panels. From a direct center viewing angle, you see the sponsor Coke C2 bottle. Viewing from either side of center, you see the Dale Earnhardt logo. The entire background is in continuous 3D depth. All the individual panels must be perfectly phased with each other so that the entire viewing image transitions at the same time.

This full shot of the trailer shows all 48 panels secured in the framework. The frame holds all the backlit panels securely in place, even at freeway speeds.

This close up view shows the 1.5 inch metal framework which secures all of the individual lenticular panels. This was the safest way to secure the lenticular panels so that the image may be viewed while traveling between NASCAR races.