Lenticular printing

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Close-up of the surface of a lenticular print. Close up of the surface of a lenticular print.jpg
Close-up of the surface of a lenticular print.

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.

Lenticular lens

A lenticular lens is an array of magnifying lenses, designed so that when viewed from slightly different angles, different images are magnified. The most common example is the lenses used in lenticular printing, where the technology is used to give an illusion of depth, or to make images that appear to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles.

Depth perception visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D)

Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and the distance of an object. Depth sensation is the corresponding term for animals, since although it is known that animals can sense the distance of an object, it is not known whether they "perceive" it in the same subjective way that humans do.


Examples of lenticular printing include flip and animation effects such as winking eyes, and modern advertising graphics that change their message depending on the viewing angle.

Colloquial terms for lenticular prints include "flickers", "winkies", "wiggle pictures" and "tilt cards". Also the trademarks Vari-Vue and Magic Motion are often used for lenticular pictures, without regard to the actual manufacturer.


How a lenticular lens works How a lenticular lens works.png
How a lenticular lens works

Lenticular printing is a multi-step process which consists of creating a lenticular image from at least two images, and combining it with a lenticular lens. This process can be used to create various frames of animation (for a motion effect), offsetting the various layers at different increments (for a 3D effect), or simply to show a set of alternative images which may appear to transform into each other. Once the various images are collected, they are flattened into individual, different frame files, and then digitally combined into a single final file in a process called interlacing.

Animation Method of creating moving pictures

Animation is a method in which pictures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhibited on film. Today, most animations are made with computer-generated imagery (CGI). Computer animation can be very detailed 3D animation, while 2D computer animation can be used for stylistic reasons, low bandwidth or faster real-time renderings. Other common animation methods apply a stop motion technique to two and three-dimensional objects like paper cutouts, puppets or clay figures.

Stereoscopy Technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image

Stereoscopy is a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by means of stereopsis for binocular vision. The word stereoscopy derives from Greek στερεός (stereos), meaning 'firm, solid', and σκοπέω (skopeō), meaning 'to look, to see'. Any stereoscopic image is called a stereogram. Originally, stereogram referred to a pair of stereo images which could be viewed using a stereoscope.

From there the interlaced image can be printed directly to the back (smooth side) of the lens, or it can be printed to a substrate (ideally a synthetic paper) and laminated to the lens. When printing to the backside of the lens, the critical registration of the fine "slices" of interlaced images must be absolutely correct during the lithographic or screen printing process or else "ghosting" and poor imagery might result. Ghosting also occurs on choosing the wrong set of images for flip.

Lithography printing process

Lithography is a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water. The printing is from a stone or a metal plate with a smooth surface. It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. Lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or other suitable material.

Screen printing printing technique

Screen printing is a printing technique whereby a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image or design.

The combined lenticular print will show two or more different images simply by changing the angle from which the print is viewed. If more (30+) images are used, taken in a sequence, they can even show a short animation sequence of about one second. Though normally produced in sheet form, by interlacing simple images or different colors throughout the artwork, lenticular images can also be created in roll form with 3D effects or multi-color changes. Alternatively, one can use several images of the same object, taken from slightly different angles, and then create a lenticular print which shows a stereoscopic 3D effect. 3D effects can only be achieved in a side-to-side (left-to-right) direction, as the viewer's left eye needs to be seeing from a slightly different angle to the right to achieve the stereoscopic effect. Other effects, like morphs, motion, and zooms work better (less ghosting or latent effects) as top-to-bottom effects, but can be achieved in both directions.

Image artifact that depicts or records visual perception

An image is an artifact that depicts visual perception, such as a photograph or other two-dimensional picture, that resembles a subject—usually a physical object—and thus provides a depiction of it. In the context of signal processing, an image is a distributed amplitude of color(s).

Angle figure formed by two rays; coordinate system in one-dimensional space or The amount of turn between two straight lines that have a common end point (the vertex).

In plane geometry, an angle is the figure formed by two rays, called the sides of the angle, sharing a common endpoint, called the vertex of the angle. Angles formed by two rays lie in a plane, but this plane does not have to be a Euclidean plane. Angles are also formed by the intersection of two planes in Euclidean and other spaces. These are called dihedral angles. Angles formed by the intersection of two curves in a plane are defined as the angle determined by the tangent rays at the point of intersection. Similar statements hold in space, for example, the spherical angle formed by two great circles on a sphere is the dihedral angle between the planes determined by the great circles.

Sequence ordered list of elements; function with natural numbers as domain

In mathematics, a sequence is an enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed. Like a set, it contains members. The number of elements is called the length of the sequence. Unlike a set, the same elements can appear multiple times at different positions in a sequence, and order matters. Formally, a sequence can be defined as a function whose domain is either the set of the natural numbers or the set of the first n natural numbers. The position of an element in a sequence is its rank or index; it is the natural number from which the element is the image. It depends on the context or a specific convention, if the first element has index 0 or 1. When a symbol has been chosen for denoting a sequence, the nth element of the sequence is denoted by this symbol with n as subscript; for example, the nth element of the Fibonacci sequence is generally denoted Fn.

There are several film processors that will take two or more pictures and create lenticular prints for hobbyists, at a reasonable cost. For slightly more money one can buy the equipment to make lenticular prints at home. This is in addition to the many corporate services that provide high-volume lenticular printing.

There are many commercial processes in the manufacture of lenticular images, which can be made from PVC, APET, acrylic, and PETG, as well as other materials. While PETG and APET are the most common, other materials are becoming popular to accommodate outdoor use and special forming due to the increasing use of lenticular images on cups and gift cards. Lithographic lenticular printing allows for the flat side of the lenticular sheet to have ink placed directly onto the lens, while high-resolution photographic lenticulars typically have the image laminated to the lens.

Recently, large format (over 2m) lenticular images have been used in bus shelters and movie theaters. These are printed using an oversized lithographic press. Advances made to lenticular lens extrusion and printing have led to a decrease in cost and an increase in quality. The newest lenticular technology is manufacturing lenses with flexo, inkjet and screen-printing techniques. The lens material comes in a roll or sheet which is fed through flexo or offset-printing systems at high speed, or printed with UV inkjet machines (usually flat-beds that enable a precise registration). This technology allows high volume 3D lenticular production at low cost.

Lenticular images have recently seen a surge in popularity, from gracing the cover of the May 2006 issue of Rolling Stone to trading cards, sports posters and signs in stores that help to attract buyers.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and music critic Ralph J. Gleason, which became famous for its coverage of rock music, and for political reporting by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

A trading card is a small card, usually made out of paperboard or thick paper, which usually contains an image of a certain person, place or thing and a short description of the picture, along with other text. There is a wide variation of different types of cards. Modern cards even go as far as to include swatches of game worn memorabilia, autographs, and even DNA hair samples of their subjects.


Images are interlaced on the substrate Sq3d-Entrelacage.png
Images are interlaced on the substrate

Each image is arranged (slicing) into strips, which are then interlaced with one or more similarly arranged images (splicing). These are printed on the back of a piece of plastic, with a series of thin lenses molded into the opposite side. Alternatively, the images can be printed on paper, which is then bonded to the plastic. With the new technology, lenses are printed in the same printing operation as the interlaced image, either on both sides of a flat sheet of transparent material, or on the same side of a sheet of paper, the image being covered with a transparent sheet of plastic or with a layer of transparent, which in turn is printed with several layers of varnish to create the lenses.

The lenses are accurately aligned with the interlaces of the image, so that light reflected off each strip is refracted in a slightly different direction, but the light from all pixels originating from the same original image is sent in the same direction. The end result is that a single eye looking at the print sees a single whole image, but two eyes will see different images, which leads to stereoscopic 3D perception.

Types of lenticular prints

There are three distinct types of lenticular prints, distinguished by how great a change in angle of view is required to change the image:

Transforming prints
Here two or more very different pictures are used, and the lenses are designed to require a relatively large change in angle of view to switch from one image to another. This allows viewers to easily see the original images, since small movements cause no change. Larger movement of the viewer or the print causes the image to flip from one image to another. (The "flip effect".) An example of this is the lenticular print of hockey player Mario Tremblay at Centre Mario-Tremblay in Alma, Quebec where he is transformed from a minor hockey playing boy as an Alma Eagle into the professional hockey playing man, four years later, as a Montreal Canadien. [1]
Lenticular printing has been used to produce movie posters, such as this advert for Species II, which morphs between two different character appearances when the angle of viewing changes. TracerGraphix Morph2.jpg
Lenticular printing has been used to produce movie posters, such as this advert for Species II , which morphs between two different character appearances when the angle of viewing changes.
Animated prints
Here the distance between different angles of view is "medium", so that while both eyes usually see the same picture, moving a little bit switches to the next picture in the series. Two or more sequential images are used, with only small differences between each image and the next. This can be used to create an image that moves ("motion effect"), or can create a "zoom" or "morph" effect, in which part of the image expands in size or changes shape as the angle of view changes. The movie poster of the film Species II, shown in this article, is an example of this technique.
Stereoscopic effects
Here the change in viewing angle needed to change images is small, so that each eye sees a slightly different view. This creates a 3D effect without requiring special glasses, using two or more images. For example, the Dolby-Philips Lenticular 3D display produces 28 different images.

Motorized lenticular

With static (non-motorized) lenticular, the viewer either moves the piece or moves past the piece in order to see the graphic effects. With motorized lenticular, a motor moves the graphics behind the lens, enabling the graphic effects while both the viewer and the display remain stationary.



Tabula scalata

Corrugated images that change when viewed from different angles predate the development of lenticular printing. Tabula scalata or "turning pictures" were probably known since the late 16th century. [2] Extant double paintings, with two distinct images on a corrugated panel, are known from the 17th century. [3] [4]

H.C.J. Deeks used a similar technique with minute vertical corrugations pressed into photographic paper and then exposed to two different images from two different angles. [5] Under a 1906 patent H.C.J. Deeks & Co marketed a Puzzle Post Card or Photochange Post Card. In 1907 a Colorchange Post Card followed, featuring identical pictures on each side of the corrugations that were sprayed with different "liquid pigment or coloring matter" on (parts of) each side. [6]

Barrier grid autostereograms and animation

Berthier's diagram: A-B=glass plate, with a-b=opaque lines, P=Picture, O=Eyes, c-n=blocked and allowed views (Le Cosmos 05-1896) 1896-05 A. Berthier - (le cosmos p. 229).jpg
Berthier's diagram: A-B=glass plate, with a-b=opaque lines, P=Picture, O=Eyes, c-n=blocked and allowed views (Le Cosmos 05-1896)

The oldest known publication about using a line sheet as a parallax barrier to produce an autostereogram is found in an article by Auguste Berthier in the French scientific magazine "Le Cosmos" of May 1896. [7] Berthier's idea was hardly noticed, but American inventor Frederic Eugene Ives had more success with his very similar parallax stereogram since 1901. He also patented the technique for a "Changeable sign, picture, &c." in 1903, which showed different pictures from different angles (instead of one stereoscopic image from the right angle and distance). Léon Gaumont introduced Ives' pictures in France and encouraged Eugène Estanave to work on the technique. Estanave patented a barrier grid technique for animated autostereograms. Animated portrait photographs with line sheets were marketed for a while, mostly in the 1910s and 1920s. In the US "Magic Moving Picture" postcards with simple 3 phase animation or changing pictures were marketed after 1906. Maurice Bonnett improved barrier grid autostereography in the 1930s with his relièphographie technique and scanning cameras.

On April 11, 1898 John Jacobson filed an application for US patent No. 624,043 (granted May 2, 1899) for a Stereograph of an interlaced stereoscopic picture and "a transparent mount for said picture having a corrugated or channeled surface". [8] The corrugated lines or channels were not yet really lenticular, but this is the first known autostereogram that used a corrugated transparent surface rather than the opaque lines of most barrier grid stereograms.

Gabriel Lippmann's integral photography

French Nobel Prize winning physicist Gabriel Lippmann represented Eugène Estanave at several presentations of Estanave's works at the French Academy of Sciences. On March 2, 1908 Lippmann presented his own ideas for "photographie intégrale", based on insect eyes. He suggested to use a screen of tiny lenses. Spherical segments should be pressed into a sort of film with photographic emulsion on the other side. The screen would be placed inside a lightproof holder and on a tripod for stability. When exposed each tiny lens would function as a camera and record the surroundings from a slightly different angle than neighboring lenses. When developed and lit from behind the lenses should project the life-size image of the recorded subject in space. He could not yet present concrete results in March 1908, but by the end of 1908 he claimed to have exposed some Integral photography plates and to have seen the "resulting single, full-sized image". However, the technique remained experimental since no material or technique seemed to deliver the optical quality desired. At the time of his death in 1921 Lippmann reportedly had a system with only twelve lenses. [9]

Early lenticular methods

On April 11, 1898, John Jacobson filed an application for US patent No. 624,043 (granted May 2, 1899) for a Stereograph of an interlaced stereoscopic picture and "a transparent mount for said picture having a corrugated or channeled surface". [8]

In 1912, Louis Chéron described in his French patent 443,216 a screen with long vertical lenses that would be sufficient for recording "stereoscopic depth and the shifting of the relations of objects to each other as the viewer moved", while he suggested pinholes for integral photography. [9]

In June 1912, Swiss Nobel Prize winning physiologist Walter Rudolf Hess applied for a US patent for a Stereoscopic picture with a "celluloid covering having a surface composed of cylindrical lens elements". [10] US patent 1,128,979 (published February 16, 1915) was one of several patents in different countries he would register for this technique. The company Stereo-Photographie A.G., registered in Zürich in 1914 and 1915, would produce pictures on transparencies through Hess' process. Few examples of these pictures are still known to have survived. They are circa 3 1/6 x 4 inches black and white pictures (with discolored or intentional hues) and labeled on their passe-partouts "Stereo-Photo nach W.R. Hess - Stereo-Photographie A.G. Zürich. Patente: "Schweiz / Deutschland / Frankreich / Italien / England / Oesterreich / Vereinigte Staaten angemeldet". The Société française de photographie has three lenticular "Stereo-photo" plates in their collection, three more were on auction in 2017. [11] [9] [12]

Herbert E. Ives, son of Frederic Eugene Ives, was one of several researchers who worked on lenticular sheets in the 1920s. These were basically simpler versions of Lippmann's integral photography and had a linear array of small plano-convex cylindrical lenses (lenticules). [13]

The first successful commercial application of the lenticular technique was not used for 3D or motion display but for color movies. Eastman Kodak's 1928 Kodacolor film was based on Keller-Dorian cinematography. It used 16 mm black and white sensitive film embossed with 600 lenses per square inch for use with a filter with RGB stripes. [14] In the 1930s several US patents relating to lenticular techniques were granted, mostly for color film. [15]

On December 15, 1936, Douglas F. Winnek Coffey was granted US patent 2,063,985 (application May 24, 1935) for an "Apparatus for making a composite stereograph". [16] The description does not include changing pictures or animation concepts.

Further history

During World War II, research for military purposes was done into 3D imaging, including lenticular technologies. Mass production of plastics and the technique of injection moulding came about around the same period and enabled commercially viable production of lenticular sheets for novelty toys and advertisements. [17]

The panoramic cameras, which were used for most of the early lenticular prints, were French-made and weighed about 300 pounds (136 kg). In the 1930s they were known as "auto-stereo cameras". These wood-and-brass cameras had a motorized lens that moved in a semicircle around the lens' nodal point. Sheet transparency film, with the lenticular lens overlay, was loaded into special dark slides (about 10×15 inches or 25 × 38 cm), and these were then inserted into the camera. The exposure time was several seconds long, giving time for the motor drive to power the lens around in an arc.[ citation needed ]

Victor Anderson and Vari-Vue

Victor G. Anderson worked for the Sperry Corporation during World War II where 3D imaging was used for military instructional products, for instance on how to use a bomb sight. After the war Anderson started his company Pictorial Productions Inc.. A patent application for a Process in the assembling of changeable picture display devices was filed on March 1, 1952 and granted on December 3, 1957 (US patent 2,815,310. Anderson stated in 1996 that the company's first product was the I Like Ike button. [17] The presidential campaign button's image changed from the slogan "I Like Ike" (in black letters on white) into a black and white picture of Ike Eisenhower when viewed from different angles. [18] It was copyrighted on May 14, 1952. [19] In December 1953 the company registered their trademark Vari-Vue. [20] Vari-Vue further popularized lenticular images during the 1950s and 1960s. By the late sixties, the company marketed about two thousand stock products including twelve-inch-square (30 cm) moving pattern and color sheets, large images (many religious), billboards, and novelty toys.[ citation needed ] The company went bankrupt in 1986. [21]


Cowles Magazines & Broadcasting, Inc.'s Look magazine of February 25, 1964 introduced the publisher's "parallax panoramagram" technology with 8 million copies of a 10x12 cm black and white card with a photographic 3D image of an Edison bust surrounded by some inventions. A 10 x 12 cm full color picture of a model promoting Kodel followed on 7 April. The technique was soon trademarked as "xograph" by Cowles' daughter company Visual Panographics Inc.. Magazines like Look and Venture published xographs until the mid 1970s. Also some baseball cards were produced as xographs. [22] [23] Images produced by the company ranged from just a few millimeters (1/10 inch) to 28 by 19.5 inches (71 by 50 cm).[ citation needed ]

Other early companies

In the 1960s, more companies manufactured lenticular products, including Hallmark (registering the Magic Motion trademark in 1964 [24] ), Reflexa (Nürnberg, Germany), Toppan (Tokyo, Japan) and Dai-Nippon (Japan). [13]

OptiGraphics Corporation of Grand Prairie, Texas [25] was formed in 1970 and—under the guidance of Victor Anderson, working well into his 80's. The company trademarked Magic Motion in 1976. [26] Optigraphics produced the lenticular prizes for Cracker Jack in the 1980s, 7-Eleven Slurpee lenticular sports coins from 1983 to 1987, [27] and in 1986 it produced the first set of 3D traditional baseball cards marketed as Sportflics, which ultimately led to the creation of Pinnacle Brands. [28] In 1999 Performance Companies bought OptiGraphics after Pinnacle Trading Card Company went bankrupt in 1998. [25]

While lenticular images were very popular in the 1960s and 1970s, by the 1980s OptiGraphics was the only significant manufacturer left in the US. [13]

21st century

The techniques for lenticular printing were further improved in the 21st century. Lenticular full motion video effects or "motion print" enabled viewing of up to 60 video frames within a print.

Common and notable products

Political campaign and pop star "flasher" badges

After their first presidential campaign badge I like Ike in 1952, Pictorial Productions Inc. made many more similar political campaign buttons, including presidential campaign badge like Don't blame me! - I voted democratic (1956), John F. Kennedy - The Man for the 60's (1960), I Like Ben (1963) and I'm for Nixon (1968?). [29]

Official "flasher" badges for pop stars like Elvis Presley were manufactured by Vari-Vue at least since 1956, [30] including badges for Beatles, Rolling Stones' and other bands in the 1960s.

Cheerios and Cracker Jack prizes

Pictorial Productions/Vari-Vue produced small animated picture cards for Cheerios in the 1950s, of which founder Victor Anderson claimed to have produced 40 million. He also stated that the cards were originally stuck to the outside of the packaging and were only put inside the boxes after too many cards were stolen before the boxes reached the store shelves. [17]

Many different lenticular "tilt cards" were produced as prizes in Cracker Jack boxes. These were first produced by Vari-Vue (1950s-1970s), later by Toppan Printing, Ltd. (1980s), and Optigraphics Corporation (1980s-1990s). [31]

Novelty toys

In 1958 Victor Anderson patented an Ocular Toy: an eye glass mount with lenticular winking eyes. [32]

Lenticular images were used in many small and cheap plastic toys, often as gumball machine prizes. These include: miniature toy televisions with an animated lenticular screen, charms in the shape of animals with lenticular faces, "flicker rings", etcetera.

In 1960 Takara's Dakkochan - a little plastic golliwog toy with lenticular eyes - originally intended for toddlers, became very popular with Japanese teenagers as a fashion accessory worn around the arm. [33]


Around 1966 several companies started producing lenticular postcards. Common themes are winking girls, religious scenes, animals, dioramas with dolls, touristic sites and pin-up models wearing clothes when viewed from one angle and nude when viewed from another angle.

Covers for books, music albums and movies

The lenticular picture on the album cover for the Rolling Stones' 1967 LP Their Satanic Majesties Request was manufactured by Vari-Vue, as well as the postcards and other promotional items that accompanied the release. [34] Other lenticular LP covers include Johnny Cash's The Holy Land (1969) [35] and The Stranglers' The Raven. [36] In the 2010s lenticular covers for LPs became a bit more common, especially for deluxe re-releases. [37]

Saturnalia 1973 lp with lenticular label that switches from "Magical love" to a logo. Saturnalia.jpg
Saturnalia 1973 lp with lenticular label that switches from "Magical love" to a logo.

In 1973 the band Saturnalia had lenticular labels on their Magical Love picture disc lp. [38]

From around the mid-1990s some lenticular cd covers were produced (mostly for limited editions), including Pet Shop Boys' Alternative (1995) with an image of Chris changing into Neil, [39] The Sacrilicious Sounds Of The Supersuckers (1995), [40] Tool's Ænima (1996), Velvet Underground's Loaded 2CD version (1997), [41] Kraftwerk Expo2000 (1999) and David Bowie's Hours (1999). [42] Ministry's 2007 The last sucker had an image of George W. Bush changing into a monstrous, alien-like face. [43]

In the 2010s lenticular covers for movies on DVD and Blu-ray became quite common.


In August 1967 the trademark Lentograph was filed by Victor Anderson 3D Studios, Inc. (registered in June 1955). [44] [45] Lentographs were marketed as relatively large lenticular plates (16 x 12 inches / 12 x 8 inches), often found in an illuminated brass frame. Commonly found are 3D pictures of Paul Cunningham's biblical displays with sculpted figurines in dramatic poses based on paintings (Plate 501-508), a family of teddy bears in a domestic scene, Plate No. 106 Evening Flowers, Plate No. 115 Goldilocks and 3 bears, Plate No. 124 Bijou (a white poodle), Plate No. 121 Midday Respite (a taxidermied young deer in a forest setting), Plate No. 213 Red Riding Hood. Also known are a harbor scene (Plate No. 114), Plate No. 118 Japanese Floral, Plate No. 123 Faustus (a yorky dog) and Plate No. 212 of a covered bridge. [46]

Lenticular postage stamps

In the 1967 Bhutan introduced lenticular 3D postage stamps as one of the many unusual stamp designs of the Bhutan Stamp Agency initiated by American businessman Burt Kerr Todd. [47] [48] Countries like Ajman, Yemen, Manama, Umm Al Qiwain and North Korea released lenticular stamps in the 1970s. Animated lenticular stamps have been issued since the early 1980s by countries like North Korea. [49]

In 2004 full motion lenticular postage stamps were issued in New Zealand. Over the years many other countries have produced stamps with similar lenticular full motion effects, mostly depicting sport events. [49] In 2010 Communications agency KesselsKramer produced the "Smallest Shortest Film" on a Dutch stamp, directed by Anton Corbijn and featuring actress Carice van Houten. [50]

In 2012, Design Consultancy GBH.London created the UK's first 'Motion Stamps' for Royal Mail's Special Stamp Issue, 'The Genius of Gerry Anderson’. The minisheet featured four first class fully lenticular stamps on the subject of TV's 'Thunderbirds’. The Stamps and their background border used 48 frame 'MotionPrint’ technology and were produced by Outer Aspect from New Zealand.

Han-O-Disc manufactured for Light Fantastic with metal flake outside and Dufex process print within. Duflex.jpg
Han-O-Disc manufactured for Light Fantastic with metal flake outside and Dufex process print within.
Han-O-Disc record with diffraction grating 'Rainbow' film (outside ring), color shifting Rowlux (middle ring) and "silver balls" Rowlux film (center of record). Rolux.jpg
Han-O-Disc record with diffraction grating 'Rainbow' film (outside ring), color shifting Rowlux (middle ring) and "silver balls" Rowlux film (center of record).

A related product, produced by a small company in New Jersey, was Rowlux. Unlike the Vari-Vue product, Rowlux used a microprismatic lens structure made by a process they patented in 1972, [51] and no paper print. Instead, the plastic (polycarbonate, flexible PVC and later PETG) was dyed with translucent colors, and the film was usually thin and flexible (from 0.002" or 0.051 mm in thickness).

While not a true lenticular process, the Dufex Process (manufactured by F.J. Warren Ltd.) [52] does use a form of lens structure to animate the image. The process consists of imprinting a metallic foil with an image. The foil is then laminated onto a thin sheet of card stock that has been coated with a thick layer of wax. The heated lamination press has the Dufex embossing plate on its upper platen, which has been engraved with 'lenses' at different angles, designed to match the artwork and reflect light at different intensities depending on angle of view.

Lenticular cinema and television

Since at least the early 1930s many researchers have tried to develop lenticular cinema. Herbert E. Ives presented an apparatus on October 31, 1930 with small autostereoscopic motion pictures viewable by only small groups at a time. Ives would continue to improve his system over the years. However, producing autostereoscopic movies was deemed too costly for commercial purposes. A November 1931 New York Times article entitled New screens gives depth to movies describes a lenticular system by Douglas F. Winnek and also mentions an optical appliance fitted near the screen by South African astronomer R.T.A. Innes. [53]

Lenticular arrays have also been used for 3D autostereoscopic television, which produces the illusion of 3D vision without the use of special glasses. At least as early as 1954 patents for lenticular television were filed, [54] but it lasted until 2010 before a range of 3D televisions became available. Some of these systems used cylindrical lenses slanted from the vertical, or spherical lenses arranged in a honeycomb pattern, to provide a better resolution. While over 40 million 3D televisions were sold in 2012 (including systems that required glasses), [55] the technique seemed to have died by 2016. The need to wear glasses for the more affordable systems seemed to have been a letdown for customers. Affordable autostereoscopic televisions were seen as a future solution. [56]

"Looking Glass Factory" manufacture a Lenticular display that displays 45 different angles [57]

Manufacturing process


Creation of lenticular images in volume requires printing presses that are adapted to print on sensitive thermoplastic materials. Lithographic offset printing is typically used, to ensure the images are good quality. Printing presses for lenticulars must be capable of adjusting image placement in 10-µm steps, to allow good alignment of the image to the lens array.

Typically, ultraviolet-cured inks are used. These dry very quickly by direct conversion of the liquid ink to a solid form, rather than by evaporation of liquid solvents from a mixture. Powerful (400-watt-per-square-inch or 0.083 hp/cm2) ultraviolet (UV) lamps have been used to rapidly cure the ink. This allowed lenticular images to be printed at high speed.

In some cases, electron beam lithography has been used instead. The curing of the ink was then initiated directly by an electron beam scanned across the surface.


Design defects

Double images on the relief and in depth

Double images are usually caused by an exaggeration of the 3D effect from some angles of view, or an insufficient number of frames. Poor design can lead to doubling, small jumps, or a fuzzy image, especially on objects in relief or in depth. For some visuals, where the foreground and background are fuzzy or shaded, this exaggeration can prove to be an advantage. In most cases, the detail and precision required do not allow this.

Image ghosting

Ghosting occurs due to poor treatment of the source images, and also due to transitions where demand for an effect goes beyond the limits and technical possibilities of the system. This causes some of the images to remain visible when they should disappear. These effects can depend on the lighting of the lenticular print.

Prepress defects

Synchronisation of the print (master) with the pitch

This effect is also known as "banding". Poor calibration of the material can cause the passage from one image to another to not be simultaneous over the entire print. The image transition progresses from one side of the print to the other, giving the impression of a veil or curtain crossing the visual. This phenomenon is felt less for the 3D effects, but is manifested by a jump of the transverse image. In some cases, the transition starts in several places and progresses from each starting point towards the next, giving the impression of several curtains crossing the visual, as described above.

Discordant harmonics

This phenomenon is unfortunately very common, and is explained either by incorrect calibration of the support or by incorrect parametrisation of the prepress operations. It is manifested in particular by streaks that appear parallel to the lenticules during transitions from one visual to the other.

Printing defects

Colour synchronisation

One of the main difficulties in lenticular printing is colour synchronisation. The causes are varied, they may come from a malleable material, incorrect printing conditions and adjustments, or again a dimensional differential of the engraving of the offset plates in each colour.

This poor marking is shown by doubling of the visual; a lack of clarity; a streak of colour or wavy colours (especially for four-colour shades) during a change of phase by inclination of the visual.

Synchronisation of parallelism of the printing to the lenticules

The origin of this problem is a fault in the printing and forcibly generates a phase defect. The passage from one visual to another must be simultaneous over the entire format. But when this problem occurs, there is a lag in the effects on the diagonals. At the end of one diagonal of the visual, there is one effect, and at the other end, there is another.


In most cases, the phasing problem comes from imprecise cutting of the material, as explained below. Nevertheless, poor printing and rectification conditions may also be behind it.

In theory, for a given angle of observation, one and the same visual must appear, for the entire batch. As a general rule, the angle of vision is around 45°, and this angle must be in agreement with the sequence provided by the master. If the images have a tendency to double perpendicularly (for 3D) or if the images provided for observation to the left appear to the right (top/bottom), then there is a phasing problem.

Cutting defects

Defects, in the way the lenticular lens has been cut, can lead to phase errors between the lens and the image.

Two examples, taken from the same production batch:

First image Sq3d-apet3.gif
First image
Second image Sq3d-apet2.gif
Second image

The first image shows a cut which removed about 150  µm of the first lens, and which shows irregular cutting of the lenticular lenses. The second image shows a cut which removed about 30 µm of the first lens.Defects in cutting such as these lead to a serious phase problem. In the printing press the image being printed is aligned relative to the edges of the sheet of material. If the sheet is not always cut in the same place relative to the first lenticule, a phase error is introduced between the lenses and the image slices.

See also

Related Research Articles

A three-dimensional stereoscopic film is a motion picture that enhances the illusion of depth perception, hence adding a third dimension. The most common approach to the production of 3D films is derived from stereoscopic photography. In this approach, a regular motion picture camera system is used to record the images as seen from two perspectives, and special projection hardware or eyewear is used to limit the visibility of each image to the viewer's left or right eye only. 3D films are not limited to theatrical releases; television broadcasts and direct-to-video films have also incorporated similar methods, especially since the advent of 3D television and Blu-ray 3D.

Stereoscope Device for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images

A stereoscope is a device for viewing a stereoscopic pair of separate images, depicting left-eye and right-eye views of the same scene, as a single three-dimensional image.

Panoramic photography is a technique of photography, using specialized equipment or software, that captures images with horizontally elongated fields of view. It is sometimes known as wide format photography. The term has also been applied to a photograph that is cropped to a relatively wide aspect ratio, like the familiar letterbox format in wide-screen video.

Rotary printing press

A rotary printing press is a printing press in which the images to be printed are curved around a cylinder. Printing can be done on a large number of substrates, including paper, cardboard, and plastic. Substrates can be sheet feed or unwound on a continuous roll through the press to be printed and further modified if required. Printing presses that use continuous rolls are sometimes referred to as "web presses".

Frederic Eugene Ives American inventor

Frederic Eugene Ives was a U.S. inventor, born at Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1874–78 he had charge of the photographic laboratory at Cornell University. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where in 1885 he was one of the founding members of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia. He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Elliott Cresson Medal in 1893, the Edward Longstreth Medal in 1903, and the John Scott Medal in 1887, 1890, 1904 and 1906. His son Herbert E. Ives was a pioneer of television and telephotography, including color facsimile.

A stereo display is a display device capable of conveying depth perception to the viewer by means of stereopsis for binocular vision.

Chronophotography photography genre

Chronophotography is an antique photographic technique from the Victorian era, which captures movement in several frames of print. These prints can be subsequently arranged either like animation cels or layered in a single frame. It is a predecessor to cinematography and moving film, involving a series of different cameras, originally created and used for the scientific study of movement.

A vectograph is a type of stereoscopic print or transparency viewed by using the polarized 3D glasses most commonly associated with projected 3D motion pictures.


Autostereoscopy is any method of displaying stereoscopic images without the use of special headgear or glasses on the part of the viewer. Because headgear is not required, it is also called "glasses-free 3D" or "glassesless 3D". There are two broad approaches currently used to accommodate motion parallax and wider viewing angles: eye-tracking, and multiple views so that the display does not need to sense where the viewers' eyes are located.

Integral imaging is an autostereoscopic and multiscopic three-dimensional imaging technique that captures and reproduces a light field by using a two-dimensional array of microlenses, sometimes called a fly's-eye lens, normally without the aid of a larger overall objective or viewing lens. In capture mode, each microlens allows an image of the subject as seen from the viewpoint of that lens's location to be acquired. In reproduction mode, each microlens allows each observing eye to see only the area of the associated micro-image containing the portion of the subject that would have been visible through that space from that eye's location. The optical geometry can perhaps be visualized more easily by substituting pinholes for the microlenses, as has actually been done for some demonstrations and special applications.

Color motion picture film

Color motion picture film refers both to unexposed color photographic film in a format suitable for use in a motion picture camera, and to finished motion picture film, ready for use in a projector, which bears images in color.

RealD 3D is a digital stereoscopic projection technology made and sold by RealD. It is currently the most widely used technology for watching 3D films in theaters (cinemas). Worldwide, RealD 3D is installed in more than 26,500 auditoriums by approximately 1,200 exhibitors in 72 countries as of June 2015.

Parallax barrier

A parallax barrier is a device placed in front of an image source, such as a liquid crystal display, to allow it to show a stereoscopic or multiscopic image without the need for the viewer to wear 3D glasses. Placed in front of the normal LCD, it consists of an opaque layer with a series of precisely spaced slits, allowing each eye to see a different set of pixels, so creating a sense of depth through parallax in an effect similar to what lenticular printing produces for printed products and lenticular lenses for other displays. A disadvantage of the method in its simplest form is that the viewer must be positioned in a well-defined spot to experience the 3D effect. However, recent versions of this technology have addressed this issue by using face-tracking to adjust the relative positions of the pixels and barrier slits according to the location of the user's eyes, allowing the user to experience the 3D from a wide range of positions. Another disadvantage is that the horizontal pixel count viewable by each eye is halved, reducing the overall horizontal resolution of the image.

Nimslo Stereo camera

The Nimslo is a stereo camera with a brightfield viewfinder that produces 3D pictures that can be viewed without glasses. This is done using Lenticular printing. It uses common 35 mm film in 135 film format cartridges. It was produced in the 1980s by Nimstec Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and manufactured by Timex in Dundee, Scotland.

Lenticular fabric

A lenticular fabric is a lattice-like arrangement of lens-shaped materials formed into a thin layer. When the surface of the fabric is smooth, it often has a reflective and light-distorting appearance.

Stereo photography techniques

Stereo photography techniques are methods to produce stereoscopic images, videos and films. This is done with a variety of equipment including special built stereo cameras, single cameras with or without special attachments, and paired cameras. This involves traditional film cameras as well as, tape and modern digital cameras. A number of specialized techniques are employed to produce different kinds of stereo images.

Lenticular book is created with the help of lenticular printing technology. This special type of printing gives rise to books, the text is accompanied by pictures with 3D graphics. Pictures of lenticular book arouse the illusion of depth or transition depending on your perspective. Lenticular book is also called stereoscopy or 3D book. The first worldwide 3D lenticular printed book with the story is Lentibook Pirate Girl.

Barrier grid animation and stereography

Barrier-grid animation, also known as a kinegram, and "picket fence" animation, which was originated in the late 1890s and then re-popularized by Rufus Butler Seder's trademarked "Scanimation(r)" books in the early 2000s, is an animation effect created by moving a striped transparent overlay across an interlaced image. The barrier-grid technique and its history overlap with parallax stereography for 3D autostereograms. The technique has also been used for color-changing pictures, but to a much lesser extent.


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