Lenticular Art Comes of Age

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You sometimes found them in Cracker Jack boxes: small, plastic-covered wafers showing an image that appeared to change or move when viewed from different angles. They're examples of lenticular printing , a technique undergoing a modest revival thanks to new digital-imaging capabilities. Using this technology, you incorporate many versions of an image into a laminated print, creating artwork that simulates 2-D or 3-D animation.

Interlaced Images

Producing a lenticular print basically takes three steps. You create a series of images in Adobe Photoshop or any other painting program. Then you use lenticular-imaging software to cut each picture into thin vertical or horizontal slices that are interlaced to produce one image. After printing the interlaced image, you laminate it with a lenticular lens screen, a plastic covering embossed with tiny lenses set at different angles. The lenses force the eye to focus on only one of the interlaced images at any viewing angle. When you change the angle, the image changes, too.

Although lenticular printing is often associated with cheap-looking novelties and marketing gimmicks, the technology can be used to produce serious artwork. At the recent Seybold San Francisco electronic publishing show, Digital Atelier ( http://www.digitalatelier.com )–a printmaking studio founded by artists Dorothy Simpson Krause, Bonny Lhotka, and Karin Schminke–sponsored a gallery of large-format lenticular prints.

Mac Friendly?

At present, lenticular-imaging software–which includes Flip, from Flip Signs
( http://www.flipsigns.com ), and Lenticular F|X, from Lenticular Development
(909/471-0468, http://www.lenticulardevelopment.com )–is available only for Microsoft Windows. The Windows-only P-M1000 Motion Image Printer ($5,500), from Panasonic (800/742-8086, http://www.panasonic.com/alive ), produces 2-by-4-inch lenticular prints that can incorporate up to six images.

Although these are currently Windows-only products, you can use your Mac to create the original images–the part of the process that in most cases will be the most time-consuming. A lenticular-imaging service bureau, such as 3D Sign & Design (909/471-0468, http://www.3dsign-design.com ) can produce lenticular prints from standard image files submitted by customers.

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