Welcome to the awesome world of Lenticular Printing and how we can apply this technology to your photos or artwork.
Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenticular lenses (a technology that is also used for 3D displays) are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles.¹
This basic description of lenticular printing from wikipedia describes the three general types of lenticular prints. They can be broken out into three types; Flip (or transforming) lenticulars, animated lenticulars, and 3D (stereoscopic) lenticulars.
- Flip Lenticular – aka transforming lenticulars – This type of lenticular changes images as you walk by or tilt the picture. Flip lenticulars typically showcase from 2 to 4 different images. Flip lenticulars are a great way to display 2 or more of your favorite photos. They also make excellent before and after images, for instance a young person to old, mask to no mask, they are a great way to get creative.
- Animated Lenticulars – aka motion lenticulars – An animated lenticular will move through a sequence of shots that have minor changes between each frame. This gives the effect of an old time motion picture where the image moves as you walk by.
- 3D Lenticulars – aka stereoscopic lenticular – One of our favorites. This lenticular gives your image a 3D effect. This effect is a difficult trick to pull off, but can create an amazing depth effect that brings an old photo back to life.
When did lenticular technology begin?
Lentuclar Technology is very cool. Let’s just start there. Believe it or not the basics for lenticular technology date back to the 16th century. Back then they could not make a lentuclar picture as we know it today. The idea of an image that changes when viewed from different angles was known then as “tabula scalata” or “turning pictures”, and they made them by dividing 2 images into strips and viewing them through a slotted barrier. The picture would then appear to change as you would walk by creating of a primitive type of flip picture.
By the late 19th and early 20th century the technology to create a lenticular picture was available. The first commercial lenticular products to us an early version of lenticular lenses were patented and marketed in 1906 as a “Puzzle Post Card” or “Photochange Post Card”. As the technology progressed, lenticular lenses capable of creating a 3D effect were developed to give the lenticular picture the illusion of depth, rather than a simple flip from one image to another, and 3d lenticular printing was born. The applications for this technology would soon range from simple marketing materials to aiding with training materials for bomb sites in WWII.
One of the most famous uses for lenticular flip technology was for prizes in Cracker Jack boxes. Known as “tilt cards” many people still remember them fondly as that prize at the end of a delicious box of cracker jacks. This fun little prize is probably the widely remembered and beloved lenticular products ever produced.
The technology has improved significantly since the early days. We have new effects such as morph (a type of flip where one object “morphs” into another), and zoom which is where an object appears to get bigger as you walk by or tilt. Effects like 3D and Flip can be combined to create flipping images that also have a 3D effect to them.
We intend to take this technology another step further by combining 3D Printing and Lenticular products in new and innovative ways as well as creating new and more efficient ways to laminate a lenticular while minimizing errors.
How Does Lenticular Technology Work?
Lenticular technology requires an interlaced image and set of lenticular lenses that are appropriate for desired effect (3D or Flip for instance). The interlaced image is usually printed on photo paper and then the lenticular lens (in the form of a lenticular sheet) are applied via an adhesive to the interlaced image. Lenticular lenses are shaped in such a way they either expose or hide the interlaced frame underneath them. If you were to view them up close they are shaped like a convex lens, think of the shape of eye glass lenses as a visual (see figure 1 below). The precise shape of the lenses vary depending on the effect desired, 3D, animated, or flip. To ensure the proper effect, the lenticular sheet needs to be positioned precisely over the interlaced image. Misalignment of the lenticular sheet over the interlaced image will result in poor image quality or only partial flips.
The lenticular lens is where most of the magic of lenticular technology occurs. For Flip lenticulars, the lens diffracts the light in such a way that the viewer will only see one set of interlaced frames, or another, depending on what angle they are viewing the lenticular from. For 3D lenticular printing the lenticular lenses are shallower with smaller viewing angle and the interlaced image contains the one image from the left eye perspective and one from the right eye perspective. The 3D lenticular sheet then presents a slightly different image to each eye which is what creates the 3D effect and illusion of depth.
Most often lenticular lenses are lined up with the interlaced image by hand and then the lenticular lens is carefully adhered to the interlaced photo. Any mistakes during this usually result in poor quality lenticular image, so it takes a steady hand and eye to laminate a lenticular picture properly. An interlaced image can be printed directly onto a lenticular lens using a UV Flatbed or Offset printer, but these printers are very expensive, and therefore, not generally suitable for custom lenticular printing.
Figure 1. An example of how a lenticular lens how the viewers eyes see the interlaced image ²
Figure 2. Above you can see an interlaced image. The 2 images at the top are what is used to create the interlaced image. The interlaced image is then printed and the lenticular sheet applied. ³
Ready to take your photos or artwork to the next level?
We can help you! Whether you are looking for a Flip, Animation, 3D Effect, or Morph, we will customize your Lenticular Picture from your photo(s) or artwork. Each offered in a wide range of sizes to fit your needs. Reduced pricing available for duplicates and bulk orders. If you have questions about how well your images will look, feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. We will let you know if your images will work and can make recommendations. Check out a few samples below and even more on the lenticular product pages.
Click the learn more button to see more information about all of our lenticular products
Samples of some of our custom lenticular pictures
Sources and credit
¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenticular_printing – We copied this from wikipedia, after some rework attempts this was the best description
_vs_lenticular_screen.svg – Image from wikipedia
³ https://www.3dreactions.com/lenticular-printing – simple view showing interlaced image