A stereoscopic picture is a fairly clever optical illusion which uses two slightly different pictures to create the illusion of a proper 3D image. This works because we see the world in 3D because each eye sees things from a slightly different perspective and our brain combines these two perspectives in order to create a 3D image.
Looking at a stereoscopic image is fairly similar to looking at a “magic eye” picture – you just cross your eyes until the dots below the two pictures merge together. When this happens you’ll see three dots and three pictures, the picture in the middle will be in 3D.
Although stereoscopic pictures don’t give you a “proper” 3D image (they make the image look like a series of paper cut-outs/ layers placed at various distances away from you), they’re still quite fun to make. Not to mention that they’re a really cool thing to show other people too.
If you want a more detailed explanation of the mechanics (and history) of stereoscopic “3D” pictures, then check out Wikipedia.
But, whilst most old stereoscopic pictures are photographs taken using a special camera with two lenses, it’s surprisingly easy (although slightly time-consuming) to create them from any digital image using nothing more than good old MS Paint.
It’s probably best to use a graphics tablet for making stereoscopic images, but I used a mouse when I was making this guide since the shapes in it are fairly simple.
I’ll include a copyright-free template which you can download and use if you want to (although you might have to resize it, since it’s fairly small. It’s also only in portrait too.)
It’s fairly easy to make a template in MS Paint too – just remember that the dots should be below the exact same point in the middle of your picture and they should be the same size and the same height. The advantage of making your own template is that it’s a lot easier to make it the right size for your picture (since you don’t have to re-size it to fit into the template)
This guide will be using a fairly simple drawing from one of my “How To Draw” guides and it will show you how to make a very basic stereoscopic image with two “layers”. I’m using version 5.1 of MS Paint, but I guess that the fairly basic features I’m using are probably in more modern versions of Paint too.
I’ve also set the basic “background” colour of MS Paint to bright pink in this tutorial, so it’ll be easy to see what I’ve moved. Anyway, let’s get started….
Firstly, copy your picture in the left side of the template…
Once you’ve done that, copy it into the right side of the template. If you’ve re-sized the image to fit it into the template, then select the image from the left side of the template using the “select” tool and make a copy of that. This is because it is extremely important that both images are exactly the same size.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll end up with something like this:
You only need to alter the picture on the right side of the template in order to make a stereoscopic image.
In this guide, I’ll be showing you how to make everything inside the window appear further away than the wall in front of it.
Click on the “Free-Form Select” tool and draw around the area inside the window. In this guide, I’ll be leaving a large margin on the right-hand side of the window (for reasons I’ll explain later).
Once the area is selected, you can move it to the right in order to make it look further away (this is why the margin on the right-hand side of the window is so useful – since it allows you to move it without covering up any of the window frame).
As a general rule, if you want things to be further away from the viewer, move them further to the right. If you want things to be closer to the viewer, then either leave them where they are or move them to the left (and leave a margin on the left side rather than the right side).
Once you’ve moved the window to the right, you should have something like this (again, I’ve used bright pink for the “background” behind the drawing).
Now all you have to do is to colour over the space where the selected area used to be. The best way to do this is to zoom in and use the “Pick Colour” tool on the area next to the space in order to get the colours exactly right (when you click on an area with this tool, it automatically changes the primary colour to the same colour as the area you clicked on), then use either the pencil or the brush to colour over it.
You’ll probably have to use the “Pick Color” tool several times. But, eventually you’ll end up with something like this:
Well done! You’ve just made a stereoscopic image! Go on, try it out (just cross your eyes until you can see three dots below the pictures instead of two or four).
Although this guide is fairly basic, this technique can be used to turn pretty much any image into a stereoscopic image.
Anyway, have fun 🙂