Anaglyph (3D) Photography Tutorial
Anaglyphs create 3D impressions by imitating the way that our eyes are used to interpret depth. By measuring how much objects shift from one eye’s view to the other, the human brain can tell how far away they are. The more dramatic the shift, the closer the object is to the viewer. For this reason, anaglyphs are created by taking two images and overlaying them in a particular way in order to simulate the two eyes’ views.
- Gather digital camera with memory card, battery, and tripod if needed. Remember that you need twice the memory as usual since each scene takes two pictures instead of one.
- Set up in front of the object or scene you wish to shoot. The best scenes for 3D have objects in the foreground, midground, and background. If everything in the photo is along the same plane in front of you, the 3D image will end up looking somewhat flat. If possible, set up your camera on your tripod (as far left on the head as you can slide it if you have the option).
- Aim your shot slightly to the left of the center of your desired scene for your first picture. If you do not have a tripod or if it would be too difficult to use one, set your face towards your scene and place your camera’s viewfinder flush in front of your left eye. Realize that the very outer edges of your shots may be cropped off in the editing process, so leave some extra room. Remember to always start with the left image first and right image second when shooting; this makes organizing your photos much easier when you return to process them.
- For the second shot, you must move your camera to the right without rotating it. Simply slide it on your tripod if possible, or move your entire tripod, to the right approximately 2.5 inches while keeping your original orientation. Try to keep as level as possible so you don’t need to rotate some of your images later. If you are working without a tripod, keep your face’s original orientation and slide the camera over so that the viewfinder is now flush with your right eye. If most of the objects are far away from you, you may wish to shift your camera more to give sufficient depth. This requires some experimentation, but 2.5 inches works well in most cases.
- Import your photos from your memory card using a card reader. If needed, organize your photos into folders based on scenes if you made multiple testing attempts per scene.
- Select both a left and right image from a scene by either dragging your mouse across both files or by holding down command and clicking on them both. Then hold down control, click on either one, hover over Open With, and select Adobe Photoshop Elements from the drop-down list.
- The two photos will open in separate windows within Photoshop Elements. We want to get both within the same window, so press ‘v’ to select the Move Tool, or manually select it by clicking on the top-most icon in your toolbar to the left (see picture to left). Then drag the left image into the window of the right image. It will now appear as a second layer in the right image’s space (see image below). You can now close the left image’s window without saving.
- Working in the now-solitary Photoshop Elements window, find your Layers panel (see above). It is located to the right of your working space. If you cannot find it, click on the Windows menu and make sure Layers is checked. To make things easier for yourself, double click on the name “Layer 1” and rename it LEFT. Do the same for the layer named “Background.” When you double click this time, a dialog box will appear. Just say OK. Now double click on the name “Layer 0” and rename it RIGHT.
- Select the LEFT layer by clicking on it once. Then click on the Opacity field located directly above it. Type in 50. You will see the top image become semi-transparent, so now you can see both images. Now pick a prominent place on the image, which will be your focus. This should be somewhere near the center of the picture and where you think the eye will be drawn to first. In this case, I'm using my coworker Josh.
- Use your Move Tool again to move the top image so that the focus of the two images are roughly aligned. You can use your arrow keys to make small nudges if using the mouse isn’t precise enough. If you need to rotate your image, hover your Move Tool by the corner of your image until your mouse turns into the icon on the right, and then click down and drag it around as needed. When you’re done, hit Enter on your keyboar
- Now we need to trim the edges of the composite image after moving the top layer. Select your Crop tool by pressing ‘c’. Then drag a selection around only the area where the two layers overlap. Then hit Enter. You can now make your first image completely opaque again. Go back to the Opacity slider in the Layers panel and re-type 100.
- Now make sure that your top layer, named LEFT, is selected. Now open the Layers dialogue box by either pressing command l or by going to the Enhance menu, Adjust Lighting, and then Levels… . In the drop-down menu next to Channel, select Green. In the very lower-right type box under Output Levels, type in 0 instead of 255. Then hit OK. Your image should have a pinkish hue now. Repeat the same process with your RIGHT layer selected but instead of selecting the Green channel, select the Red channel from the drop-down menu. You can see the thumbnail for your RIGHT layer in the Layers panel will have a bright blue hue.
- Select your LEFT layer again. In the Layers panel, to the left of the Opacity box there will be a drop-down menu currently set to Normal. Click on that menu and instead select Screen. You should now be able to see your layers overlaid on top of each other. You can now put on your 3D glasses and see how it looks. If any adjusting is needed, hit ‘v’ to re-select your Move Tool and move the top layer around as needed while you watch with your glasses to find the best arrangement.
And there you have it! If you don’t have any glasses, you can create or print your own from many different websites if you do a search. To view the MDC 3D Anaglyph Photo Gallery, click here.