Lenticular printing has been around for quite a long time, for over a century in fact, and it has vastly evolved through the onset of technology. It changed the printing landscape in many ways as it continues to grow. In this guide, you will learn about the basic terms, types, and different effects used in lenticular printing.
The Basics of Lenticular Printing
Lenticular printing relies greatly on the foundation of lenticular lenses, and the lenticular images they bear.
A lenticular image is created by combining two or more desired images to be used in the printing process. They are built using a thorough method called interlacing, where two or more images are divided into tiny strips and then combined as a single image through numerous specific arrangements. When partnered with the lenticular lenses, these varying arrangements shape how the desired effects are seen by the viewer.
For example, strips arranged horizontally will create different effects as opposed to the strips that are arranged vertically. The difference lies in the binocular disparity or the dissimilar image location of your eyes. Simply put, it affects how the images are seen individually by your left and right eye, thus dictating the effect of the lenticular print.
By themselves, the lenticular images also control the effect. For example, different images are used when opting for the traditional lenticular printing effect called flipping. This is in order to show a sudden change in the images as needed. However, for advanced effects like 3D lenticular printing, the images used to portray the different views and angles of the same image so as to create the illusion of surface depth. Through the magnification of different focal points and images, they are also able to create the illusion of change, movement, or depth in its imagery.
When the desired effect is chosen and the lenticular images are processed, they are then printed for their intended purpose. From sports merchandises to business cards, lenticular prints have graced the magazine cover of Rolling Stones to movie classic movie posters like Matrix and Species II.
Types of Lenticular Prints
Traditionally, lenticular prints are divided into three main categories depending on the angle variations required to change the images. They are as follows:
- Autostereoscopic prints – With this kind of lenticular printing, the images that are used only vary in tiny details. The small, subtle changes in the images cause a smoother, gradual view of the picture. Generally, these images are different angles of the same image so that it provides different views to individual eyes. This triggers a visual illusion of depth called When the 3D effect can finally be viewed without the use of additional equipment, there we have the autostereoscopy.
- Motion prints – Utilizing the “medium” spacing, motion prints specialize in creating an illusion of movement using different images. Mostly sequential images, they bear small differences with each other so the transition eases the view to the next image smoothly. This effect is used to create the animated motion effect, as well as the zoom and morph
- Transforming prints – This is the more known example of lenticular printing. Transforming prints use images that are much different from each other. The lenticular lenses it uses are also quite different as they allow for a larger angle change between images. In a sense, transforming prints are used so that viewers can see the drastic difference in images quickly and clearly.
Types of Lenticular Printing Effects
- 3D effect – This is one of the most famous lenticular printing effects out there. This particular effect specializes in giving new perspectives to common designs. Using stereoscopic prints, the 3D effect creates the visual illusion of depth and distance among the objects in the image.
There are two kinds of 3D effects in lenticular printing. The first kind is the layered 3D effect. With this 3D effect, the individual objects in the images are separated in layers to create the illusion of natural depth from the inside. It is one of the simplest effects to create. The second kind is the volumetric 3D. Although slightly more complex, this effect produces a kind of realism that is unparalleled by other techniques. It is because of the relief feel and depth it adds to the overall image.
3D effects are highly versatile. They can be incorporated into most lenticular design styles and images. Proper focal points and color considerations play a large role in 3D effects. Bright imagery for the foreground and neutral colors in the background are highly recommended. 3D lenticular prints are commonly used in commercial areas and spaces where there is a steady flow of people as the effect is maximized by the viewer’s movement.
- Morph effect – It is a challenge to create morphing effect as it requires a different level of skill set, equipment, and overall technical setup than your standard lenticular effects. First, you need two different images to combine. After choosing the images, your trusted printer will create the morphing transition using complex programs and algorithms. These transitions are then placed in between the two original images to show the flow of gradual change, as portrayed in the effect. Lastly, with the image conversion that transpired between the two images, the illusion of transformation or morphing is created.
Though many images could be morphed into one, it works best when the images are somehow similar in structure. Color, shape, and background particularly affect the morphing. When the images are not similar enough, they produce an unfavorable effect called ghosting. Ghosting happens when an image layer vaguely appears on top of the other because of their huge visual difference which breaks the illusion. If the images are structurally similar, then the morphing will be clean from start to end.
Morph effect is mostly seen in product promotions. It is often used in showing changes in features like in facial soaps and skin cream advertisements.
- Zoom effect – Another highly sophisticated effect, zoom effects utilize two illusionary movements: the leap-out effect with the zoom-in, and the jump-back effect using the zoom-out. It creates the effect by using a series of compatible images, enlarging and shrinking on a single graphics as its focal point.
As it is mainly used to highlight company logos, new products, and important messages, image-wise the Zoom effect can consist of multiple objects and even entirely different images. Lighter tones for the moving focal points and darker backgrounds allow for a great effect with zooming.
- Animation effect – Probably the most complex lenticular effect to create, animation effects are quite famous because of the quality it brings to the table. With animation effects, multiple frames of sequential shots are to be collected. These images need only vary slightly from the next so it can capture the full motion of the total action. Typically, the images that are used for this effect comes from sequential still shots and actual master video frames for a more detailed and crisp look.
Storytelling is important with animation effects. It is supposed to clearly show a beginning and an end to the motion, which greatly works when it is used to show a mechanical action or movement. When done correctly, the end product is similar to a very short movie clip.
- Flip effect – Probably one of the oldest effects in the lenticular printing scene, image flipping is undoubtedly a classic. Although one of the most commonly seen effects out there, it is also traditionally the most powerful effect to go for. Drastic changes are shown immediately with this effect as the contrast between two varying images is quite strong. This lenticular printing effect creates a fast transition from one image to the next. It allows up to three individual images to be combined and viewed at different angles. What it lacks in elegant transition, it makes up in speed and simplicity.
Less is more for flip effects, and for optimal usage, only 2-3 images are mostly used for the effect. However, the images to be used can be up to 6 in maximum.
Although simple in nature, it is still one of the most effectively eye-catching and versatile techniques in lenticular printing. The ‘classic’ style it bears is still closely embedded with today’s psyche, which makes it easier for viewers to connect to it.
Flip effects utilize images with large viewing angles so that the observer can see clearly the changes that are appearing and disappearing. It also helps avoid the ghosting of the images. It is mostly seen in ‘cause and effect’ or ‘before and after’ product advertisements.
- Combination effects – With all these effects available, combining them would create even better effects. One of the most notable combinations of these effects is the 3D lenticular flips. Just the visual depth and distance created by the 3D effect gives the flip effect more emphasis. The foreground helps create an illusion of movement in the background. Combining effects enables a stimulating interaction between the print and the viewer.
Of course, these methods require skill and industry experience as the creation of effect combinations can be quite complicated. For example, there are 24 individual images to tend to when a 3-flip effect is added to a 3D effect compared to a standard flip effect with only 3 images.
As 3D and flip are two of the most versatile effects, their seamless combination creates visually stunning and aesthetically pleasing designs. Some notable examples of this effect are 4OVER4.com’s 3D lenticular business cards and postcards. These business cards and postcards deliver visually balanced imagery while sending a clear message to its viewers.
Level up Your Marketing with Lenticular Printing
Here at 4OVER4.com, we allow customers to visualize the grandness of their desired design. We execute it with as much brilliance and elegance with lenticular printing that will surely make your audience remember you. 3D lenticular business cards and postcards are available upon order within the site. More complex designs such as 3D + flip combinations, 3D + animation combinations, and even 5D depth effects are available on special custom projects.
So what are you waiting for? Create stunning marketing materials with us and level up your business today!