Stereoscopic 3D Art Fun!

Original: 12th July, 2011

Yesterday, I did some research and found out how I could make 3D artwork viewable on the Nintendo 3DS, and now I’m having fun returning to my old PSDs, moving things around, and saving them as MPO files for viewing on the web with the 3DS’ web browser.

Here are two examples so far:
3D Charizard
3D HeartGold
(They’ll appear as normal images when viewed on a non-3D screen, but you’ll see the magic of depth perception if you click on those links with your 3DS, if you have one.)

How is it done?
I should credit this blog for making me aware of the appropriate software, but I think at least one piece of the software mentioned there has been updated with an option to save images specifically for the 3DS, so you don’t have to bother with any software other than StereoPhoto Maker.

So if you want to try this and have a 3DS to view the result on, you can download that program there – there’s no installation process. Just save it somewhere on your computer and it’s ready to be used! You’ll need an image editor of some sort, it’s easiest if you can work with layers. Free software like GIMP and Paint.net are always out there to be downloaded if you don’t already have something.

I’ll explain the steps I took with the HeartGold image there. I opened up the PSD which has all the Pokemon on individual layers already, making things very easy to work with. I’d select a single Pokemon and shift it to the right. The closer the Pokemon was to the foreground, the further I moved it, since the depth perception effect is affected by how far apart an element of the image is from its original position.

I saved the image as ‘HeartGold_left.jpg’ or something, then copied my original JPG of the finished image and called it ‘HeartGold_right.jpg’. After sorting that bit out, I needed to resize the images to 640×480 (the size 3D images display at on the 3DS). I shrunk the width to 640, but the height was shorter than 480, so I increased the canvas size in Photoshop to the right amount. This created some blank space at the top and bottom of the image, but that’s okay because apparently a large chunk of the image around the edges isn’t even shown on the 3DS’ screen.

Next, I open that StereoPhoto Maker thing, go to File > Open Left/Right Images…, selected both HeartGold_left.jpg and HeartGold_right.jpg (use Ctrl after clicking on the first image to select the second so you can open both at once), and they open up side-by-side in the program!
A note: I found out after saving and viewing on my 3DS that I got the depth effect backwards, so the foreground Pokemon looked like they belonged in the background and vice versa. If that happens to you, just go View > Swap Left/Right or just press X, then save it again and all should be in order.

Now it is time to save! Which consists of going File > Save as MPO File…. A box pops up where you can give your new file a name, but before you save, there should be a little radio button thing near the bottom with ‘For Nintendo 3DS’ written next to it. Click on that if it doesn’t already have a little black dot in it. Click ‘Save’ and you’re done!

You can upload your file to the internet for viewing on the 3DS browser, or you can name your file something like uh… ‘HNI_####’ where the ‘####’ bit is any number between 0001 and 9999, then copy it to your 3DS’ SD card in the folder with other similar-named files (assuming you can connect your SD card to your computer somehow. My computer has a slot for SD cards, but not all do). Be careful that the image you just made doesn’t have the same name as any of the files on your 3DS, or you might accidentally overwrite one of your 3D photos! Once you’ve done that though, you can view the image you just made in your 3DS Camera album.

So yes. HAVE FUN WITH THAT if you’re interested in making 3D images and enjoying the novelty that is depth perception on screens!

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