Mastering 2D to 3D Conversion

Table of Contents






Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                            9

Conventions                                                                           11

Chapter 1 – General Procedure                                          12

Chapter 2 – Creating Faux 3D                                            16

Concept Overview

    Figure: Aven in 3D, WV

Image Extraction

    Figure: Aven in Hat, 2D Original

    Figure: Aven in Hat, 3D

Preparing the Background and Setting its Stereo Depth

    Figure: Aven In 3D, No WV

Selecting a Background Image

The Foreground Image

Matching the Image Sizes

Installing the Foreground Image

Moving the Foreground Images into Place

Multiple Layers

    Figure: Aven With Flag

Combining 2D and 3D Images

    Figure: Tobias in a Cave

A Few Last Things

The 3-R’s Rule

Chapter 3 – 2D to 3D Conversion, Part 1                         30

Select & Shift 3D Conversion Method Using Photoshop

The Source Image

Choosing a Suitable Image Resolution

Preparing the Image

Creating the Copy

Setting Up the Work Window

Choosing the Viewing Method & Work Image

Setting Up the Two Views

Visualizing the 3D Conversion Process

Selecting and Shifting

Using the Selection tools

Making the First Selection

Shifting the Selected Area

    Figure: After the 2nd Shift

Making and Shifting the Second Selection

Shifting the Nearest Parts of the Subject

    Figure: After the 5th Shift

Special Situations

Nuances and Special Techniques

Large Flat Areas

    Figure: Skew Shift with Skew Box Still in Place               

Shifting Thin Objects

Isolated Objects


Shifting Vertical Objects and Planes

    Figure: Vertical Objects

Camera Tilted Down or Up

Object at an Angle and Camera Tilted

    Figure: Object at Angle and Camera Tilted

Work on Either Image

Chapter 4 – 2D to 3D Conversion,  Part 2                        48

Helpful Practices

Work With Sets (Groups)

    Figure: Layers Palette, Sets & Masks

Viewing Your Progress

Saving Selection Lines

Locking Layers Together

Repairing Damage Caused by Shifts

Reducing “Hard” Edges

The Monocular Edge Zone

Avoiding “Fish Scale”

Visual Confusion (Optical or Retinal Rivalry)

Repairing Mistakes (Borrowing)

Finishing the Stereo


Final Alignment, Setting the Stereo Window

Final Alignment, Septum (Gap) Size

Adding Captions

Final Trimming

Chapter 5 – Spherical Conversions                                   61

Spheres & Cylinders

Placing a Selection Line Around a Circular Object.

    Figure: Moon, Bounding Box, & Selection

The Theory and Method

    Figure: Top View of Sphere or Cylinder

Applying the Calculated Shift Radius

    Figure: First Selection

    Figure: Moon, Parallel View, 6 Shifts

Contraction Calculator

Calculator Form for Microsoft Excel

Chapter 6 – Displacement Mapping, 2D to 3D Anaglyph    69

Using Photoshop Displacement Mapping

In a Nutshell

Choosing an Appropriate Image

    Figure: Bumper Car

Selecting the Layers

Building the Displacement Map

    Figure: Completed Mapping

    Figure: Depth Map

Creating the Displacement Map File

Softening the Depth Map

    Figure: Depth Map Blurred

Making the Anaglyph 3D

     Figure: Top of Channels Palette

Setting the Stereo Window

Chapter 7 – Displacement Mapping, 2D to 3D Pairs            79 

Parallel or Cross-view Pairs

Using Photoshop Displacement Mapping

The Difference

The Point of Departure

Making the Stereo Pairs

    Figure: Top of Pairs Channels Palette

Setting the Stereo Window

    Figure: Bumper Car, parallel view

Chapter 8 – Direct Anaglyph 2D to 3D Conversion                83    

Setup for Direct Anaglyphic Conversion

     Figure: Top of Direct Channels Palette

Selecting and Shifting

Chapter 9 – Extracting a 3D Object From its Background    85     

The Setup

Comparing Edges

Magic Wand Extractions

Edge Glow

Stereo Photography Glossary                                                     89


Most stereographers dream that some magical piece of computer software will come along to automatically convert 2D pictures to stereo. Just a moment of serious reflection will convince one that this is just that, simply a dream. But when one has a priceless 2D family photo such as my “Brennan Circus” bomber photo, which just begs to be converted to 3D, there is powerful incentive to accomplish the task. The Brennan Circus, a B-17 “Flying Fortress,”  was shot down over Germany in 1943 and now lies at the bottom of the English Channel. It was great fun and very satisfying to convert this priceless (to me) photo into 3D.

Any reasonably full featured image editing software, such as Photoshop, Corel’s Paint Shop Pro, Gimp (a freeware), and others can be used to create the effects described.

It is my sincere hope that the information presented here will give you the renewed interest in stereo photography that it gave me. If any single concept found here excites you and finds its way into your art, then I am well compensated.

I wish you great success in converting your own priceless photos into great stereos.

            Good luck,

                      Mike Beech


“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain