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Seeing it in 3D

Anaglyph: A picture formed from the integration of two or more images. A stereo picture with separate images for each eye superimposed over each other and decoded using special glasses.

The first 3 dimensional comic was published in 1953. Anaglyphic photographs have been around even longer. We experience the world in 3 dimension, but as illustrators we often find that our design area remains flat. During the Italian renaissance, linear perspective was all the rage. It took awhile to perfect, but most artists use it today without thinking about it very hard. Linear perspective has become almost a second nature and remains an expectation in modern illustration. Still, ask a modern artists to separate pictures into 3D anaglyphs, and most will tell you that they do not know how. I am here to show you how.

First things first:

3D Anaglyphs require special glasses with colored filters for viewing. The process does require that both eyes work. If you do not have two working eyes, you cannot see the 3D effect.

If wearing these glasses causes headaches for you, then please stop wearing them. People with weaker eye muscles sometimes can only view 3D anaglyphs in small doses. Do not be macho with your eyes. Pain is nature's way of saying "STOP THAT!"

The 3D comic process is actually simple in theory, but it takes a bit of work to create it correctly. Two pictures are created for each image, one for each eye. Usually one is drawn, and the second one is created by manipulating the first. When they are superimposed over each other in blue and red, a complete 3D picture is created. The images are then re-separated by the person viewing it wearing special red and blue glasses. The red lens makes the blue image appear black and simultaneously filters out the red image. The blue lens does the same process for the other eye. The resulting dual image is known as an anaglyph.


Monkey-Boy Cyan
Monkey-Boy Anaglyph
Monkey-Boy Red
Image for left eye
Combined images
Image for right eye

The image will only work correctly if the proper lenses are in place over the correct eyes. Conventional 3D anaglyph glasses come in either Red/Blue or Red/Green with the red lens over the left eye. Placing the lenses over the wrong eyes causes the image to invert so that what should seem to pop out actually seems to pop in.

You can purchase these glasses from some Comic Book stores, and they usually come packaged with 3D comics. If you cannot find a place near you that has them, you can order a pair over the internet [www.stereoscopy.com/reel3d] or make your own from colored plastic and thick paper or thin board.

To make a pair of your own 3D glasses, you need:

The First thing you will need to do is make a frame for your lenses. A single piece of thick paper or thin board about 6 inches wide and about 2 inches tall should do fine.

Next, you will need to cut out places for the colored lenses. About 1 inch tall and 2 inches wide should be fine. Space them about 1 to 2 inches apart. They should be no farther apart than your own eyes, or you will not be able to use them properly.

Finally, cut your lenses out of the colored plastic and glue or tape them in place. If the plastic is not sufficiently dark, you may need to use multiple thicknesses.

Once you have a pair of glasses, try looking at some anaglyphic art, you can find a lot on the web, or in books. Notice how each eye receives a different picture because the colored lenses filter out certain colors of ink. Next we sill explore how to create the two images together to create the same effects.

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