Wednesday, May 20

3D Drawing & Anaglyphs for Kids

This was an after school program that I put on for kids at my library.

Anaglyphs, man. They're pretty cool. In fancy-schmancy terms, an anaglyph is "a picture formed from the integration of two or more images. A stereo picture with separate images for each eye superimposed over each other and decoded using special glasses." That definition is from, which was SUPER useful for figuring out how all of these images work. Basically, anaglyphs are those 3D images you could look at with those glasses that had one blue lens and one red lens. Remember those? Yeah, they're still around.

First, in my program, we started with this little video (starting at about 8:24) from the making of The Hobbit, where concept artists Alan Lee and John Howe would actually HAND DRAW their concept art in 3D! How cool is that?? Here's a still:

Look! They're even wearing the funny glasses! And here's their finished drawing (after they digitally overlaid their drawings)

If you have the glasses at home, take a look! It totally works!

So the kids watched this video to get inspired. Then I went into a brief overview of how it all works, thanks again to MyArtsOnline. Here's the basic rules they outline:

"1. Lines that are drawn right on top of each other are seen on the picture plane.
  2. Lines that shift the blue to the left are seen behind the picture plane.
  3. Lines that shift blue to the right are seen in front of the picture plane.
  4. The greater the shift, the farther from the picture plane the lines are perceived.
  5. You never want to shift your lines farther apart than the distance between both eyes.
  6. Shifts are always horizontal (side to side) and NEVER vertical (up and down)."

So back to the actual drawing in 3D...

The easiest way to do it is to first draw a picture...

Happy little scene, no? Well, then trace over that whole image in a red pencil/marker/crayon (some art medium that will be invisible when looked at through your red lens--THIS IS KEY).

Got it all traced? Okay, you'll want to shift your paper horizontally, left or right (depending on whether you want something in the foreground/background) and trace the different parts of your picture in a teal art medium.

You can barely see it, but that's okay, because it's very visable when viewed through the red lens and invisible through the blue. Here's the finished product:

It actually works! It looks even better with some shading and what-not.

Basically, this is what the kids worked on the rest of the activity. They drew all kinds of funny pictures. If they needed some inspiration, I also had a bunch of random anaglyph images I had printed (the power of a Google search!). Sadly, our library didn't have any books with 3D pictures, but maybe yours does!

So try this out! See if it works for you!


  1. what shade of blue did you find that works?

    1. It needs to be close to cyan, or a lightish aqua blue