Make any photo 3D using The Gimp

Put your face close to the screen and cross your eyes until the two images above become one. You may need to adjust the tilt of your chin to make it happen, but when they come together you’ll see [John Lennon] pop out in 3D. This was made using a 3D rendering script for The Gimp.

The process is not entirely automatic, but it won’t take too long to mask off the outlines for different depth layers. The script makes three different layers from the image. One of them is a color-coded depth map that uses a custom color palatte to choose distance for each item. If you paint the background dark blue it will be processed at the furthest distance from the viewer’s cross-eyed perspective, yellow is the nearest.

[Don] mentions a parallel output and a cross-eyed output in his write up. We understand the cross-eyed version, but are just guessing that the parallel version would be used in a stereoscopic viewer that puts a partition between the two images so that each eye sees a different frame. You know, like a View-Master.


  1. D says:

    I see the depth reversed… his face is farther than the background.

  2. Gizmodder says:

    It makes me sad because I can’t go crosseyed…

  3. danman1453 says:

    Makes my head hurt…. but cool none the less.

  4. The DON says:

    The parallel output method would be used when having two small images close together, with each eye ‘looking’ at the image directly in front of it (eyes not crossed, but looking straight into the distance).

    The cross-eyed method worked for this image (for me), but I couldn’t do the parallel one – the position of the images was too far apart on my monitor (1280×1024)

    Both methods require seeing with both eyes, which some people have dificulty doing due to one eye being dominant. As a test, look at the opposite wall, and hold a finger up infront of you still focussing on the wall. If you can see two images of your finger, then you should find these stereo images easy to see through one or the other method.

  5. Ivan says:

    Couldn’t get to see one, but I saw three :( Darn! This takes me back to school when I wasn’t able to see those Magic Eye! Frustrating!

    I guess eventually I’ll see it and it’s going to be cool! :)

  6. M4CGYV3R says:

    Side-by-Side stereographic 3D is a pretty neat trick.

    YouTube had(still has?) a ‘3D’ feature that does this with videos, but I could never get my eyes to (un)focus right to watch them.

  7. Don Sauer says:

    The trouble with showing only one version of the stereo image is that different people need different versions. I cannot see things very well in the cross eye mode. That is why both parallel and cross eye versions are on all my web pages. An other detail is how far apart the images should be. The script plugin can make an adjustment for that.

  8. spike says:

    you don’t need a viewer to view parallel pictures, its just like crossing your eyes but the other direction and just like crossing your eyes you have to learn how to do it. It’s the same method as magic eye books aka 3d stereo-grams.

    since i am used to the parallel method i saw it as reverse depth.

  9. Aprone says:

    In late 2002 I actually made a little zelda’ish game using this technique.

  10. ferdinand says:

    my lg optimus 3d do the same thing whit photo and video.
    lg have a techniek that work like that that show 2 photo on one schreen.

  11. david says:

    anybody else feel like an idiot staring at this picture with your face up close to the monitor trying to see it? aah! still can’t get it.

    • Don Sauer says:

      The cross eye method may not be the right method for you. Both the parallel and cross eye method are included on the my website. Really both versions should always be displayed together. People like me cannot used the cross eye version which was chosen to be displayed alone. I am the author. I guess I should have included instructions that both version need to be displayed together.

    • Aprone says:

      Hey David, I think that’s the problem. There is no need to be any closer to your screen, just cross your eyes a little and you’re good to go. It took me a minute to first get it right, but I am able to view it in 3D from the other side of my room. Of course from that distance it’s harder to notice the 3D effect.

    • Garbz says:

      You’re doing it wrong. The face up to the monitor trick attempts to separate the eyes into spreading apart as was done in those 3D books. It’s easier on the eyes as they sit in a more natural position.

      In this case you want to go fully crosseyed. i.e. try and look at the tip of your nose.

  12. Don Sauer says:

    For me the author, the parallel method is just too natural. When I relax my eyes, I see the two images as three images. The center image will be in 3D. When I try and cross my eyes, they want to come uncrossed. It sure would be nice if both versions were displayed.

  13. ttz says:

    well I see the 3d effect but what I see it’s not the whole image, it’s a sort of zoom on his eyes and nose. If I’m wrong, sorry!

  14. Patrick says:

    John Lennon was the king of the Hippies.

    May he rest in peace.

  15. dru says:

    I could get the parallel vision ones to work easily by displaying them on my phone. Normally, I can’t get either type to work on a regular desktop monitor. Being able to easily move the screen around definitely helps, as does the fact that the screen isn’t much larger than the distance between my eyes.

    Interestingly, the cross-eyed images in the article appear to retreat into the screen, as if looking at the inside of a mask (while looking at them in parallel).

  16. magiceye says:

    Umm, you got it backwards.

    – You don’t need to put your face close to the screen.
    – You don’t need to cross your eyes. Crossing your eyes reverses it, as many people have mentioned, and makes his face appear in the background.

    Have you never done a magic eye picture before? This is exactly the same as that.
    You “let your eyes unfocus”, or: “focus behind the image”.

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