How to Take Real 3D Pictures

Homemade 3D images: anaglyph technique

Markus Schelhorn

A 3D image (anaglyph) can be created very easily on the Mac from two offset photos, which can be viewed with red-cyan glasses. Under certain conditions, 3D images can even be created with just one template.

Two previously offset photos can be easily converted into one on the Mac Anaglyph image put together. To do this, it is sufficient to replace the red color channel of the right photo with the red color channel of the left photo. The further the red channel is shifted to the left, the further away the motif appears.

In order for a 3D image to work really well, you should not only pay attention to a few subtleties when recording (you can find detailed explanations on recording 3D images here), but also when assembling them on the Mac. In addition, this workshop shows how you can create a 3D image from a template.

False windows, anaglyph programs

A 3D image looks as if it were behind a window, which is why it is also referred to as a false window. The closest motif of a 3D image should not protrude from the window so that the images can be viewed without getting tired. This is the case when the red channel is not shifted to the left, but to the right. If the red channel of a motif is congruent with the other color channels, the motif appears on the same level as the viewing medium, i.e. the display or the printed sheet.


There is a very dedicated group of 3D photographers on They help you perfect your own results by posting them there for assessment - preferably with links to the original images.

Enlarge((Copyright Paul H. Weissbach)) In this photo by Paul H. Weissbach, the rule of the false window was deliberately broken: the branch clearly protrudes from the picture.

The rule of the dummy window can, however, be broken consciously in order to achieve a stronger effect. For example, the head of a cow looking into the camera can protrude out of the false window in the direction of the viewer. If a motif protrudes from the false window, one speaks of a false window conflict. Here you should make sure that no motifs that are cropped from the edges of the picture protrude from the window.

Anaglyph programs

EnlargeThe finished anaglyph image of our workshop. You will find the individual images on the CD of this edition.

The free Windows program Stereo Photo Maker from Japanese developer Masuji Suto is extremely popular with 3D photographers and can almost be described as the Photoshop of 3D photographers. It offers many setting options and is very powerful.

On the Mac you have to use other programs if you have the Stereo Photo Maker does not want to operate in a Windows environment. We recommend the very comfortable Ana Builder program, which is based on Java. Here, the photos can be adjusted very easily using sliders, i.e. shifting, compressing or stretching as well as rotating. This is particularly advantageous when recording stereo images with a camera. Unfortunately, the program is quite unstable and fails entirely on some Macs. You have to make sure that the program is not in a folder whose folder name contains a space. More Mac programs for creating anaglyphs can be found here.

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