Design and Interlacing

Designing for Lenticular Print

The first step in designing for lenticular print is to choose an effect. There are really only two types of lenticular effects: animation and 3D. Zoom, flip and morph all fall under the animation category. Once you have chosen the effect that will work best with your piece, the real fun begins.

For more details on these types of lenticular effects and how best to utilize them, visit our Lenticular Effects page.

Zoom  |  Morph  |  Flip

Designing for Animation

Creating the electronic art for a lenticular animation and preparing it for print is a lot like assembling the old flip books we all made back in grade school. Each separate art layer represents the flip pages that will produce the illusion of motion.

The lenticules for animation effects may run vertically or horizontally. However, you will see better results-meaning cleaner action and far less chances of ghosting-when the lenticules are in the horizontal direction. For larger, more stationary pieces such as a poster or P.O.P. display, the vertical direction should be used since it requires the viewer to move rather than the piece.

Here are a few things to keep in mind during the assembly stages:

  • Using hi-resolution images-at least 300dpi-is a MUST.
  • Colored or textured backgrounds provide reference (especially for 3D lenticular) and can deter ghosting often found in animated presentations. White backgrounds are least effective when attempting to minimize ghosting.
  • The illusion of depth can be added to an image by using type that has a beveled or extruded look or even applying a drop shadow. Also, applying a stroke-border outline to type helps control the appearance of color leaks that result from the magnification of the image by the lenticular lens.

Designing for 3D Lenticular

The lenticules for 3D always run vertically in order to accommodate binocular disparity (the principle that your right eye and left eye view a scene from slightly different angles.) Adding depth files to your 3D art will give your images a rounded look that mirrors the way your eyes view the environment, thereby making the effect seem more realistic. Though depth files are not required, they will lessen the flat appearance of each 3D layer.

Interlacing for Lenticular Lens

Here is where the magic begins! In order to understand interlacing, it will help if you have a good degree of working knowledge with graphic programs, resolution factors, output devices, proofing methods, imagesetters, and offset litho printing. If you don't, you should work with a printing company that has a successful track record with lenticular printing.

Diagram of interlacing
Interlacing is a process of using a sequence of images for animation effects, or views for 3D effects, and arranging them in order.

Interlacing is a process of using a sequence of images for animation effects, or views for 3D effects, and arranging them in order.

When the properly interlaced image is viewed through the lens, the human eye will only see one image at a time.

When the properly interlaced image is viewed through the lens, the human eye will only see one image at a time.

The printer's equipment and its capabilities will play a huge roll in how you will need to interlace the art that they will proof and print. The printers proofing and plating devices have a defined output resolution, or target resolution.

Interlacing can be described as a linear process:

  • Choose a planned effect - Animation, flip, morph, zoom, or 3D.

  • Create or select art and/or images that are lenticular friendly. (Remember to review the DO's and DON'Ts section of this site prior to starting your project for suggestions.)

  • Select the correct lenticular lens for the planned effect being used-keeping in mind how your piece will be used and the distance in which it will be viewed at. Will it be hand-held like a business card or larger like a P.O.P. display? This is where you will find viewing distance to be a key issue.

  • Use a good color printer during the art-assembly stage. Proofing your own interlaced art is suggested. Keep in mind that having the printing company proof your art during the design phase can, and will, become very costly. You can create action proofs to assess your progress using your own equipment.

  • Lastly, you'll need to determine which direction the interlaced art should be outputted. Inkjet and bubble-jet printers all print a finer, more accurate, dot or resolution in the direction the print head travels. This is why you see the resolution of these types of printers to be something like 1440 x 720. The print head moves horizontally to write the image (the 1440 dpi.) The paper is driven through the printer vertically by a mechanical gear system (the 720 dpi.) The print heads fire on and off to image the sheet and are more precise than the drive mechanism moving the sheet through the device. Knowing this, you will need to position your art either "portrait" or "landscape" so that the print heads write the frequency of the LPI and NOT the length. Another good tip is to use the same high quality photo paper for the tests as what will be used when you are ready to print your interlaced art to create the action proof.

  • Interlace your art to the planned effect

There are a number of lenticular and lenticular software packages available and we can't possibly cover them all. What we can do, however, is explain what interlacing is and what these lenticular software packages DO have in common.

For now, let's assume that we are planning a 5-phase animation effect. We have five images. Image 1 will be the start of the sequence and image 5 is the end.

Let's also assume that we are working with a 60 lpi lens that has a proofing pitch of 60.15 lpi. Our goal, as well as the interlacing or lenticular software's, is to create a pattern of 1 to 5

in which each series of 5 will fit precisely under one lenticule. (Example: 1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5,1,2,3,4,5 and so on) By doing so, we will have a factor of 5 images per lenticule—resulting in a interlaced file size of 300.75 ppi. How did we come to this figure? Here is the mathematical formula:

Number of Frames x Proofing Pitch LPI of the Lens = PPI 

(Our example would then be written to look like: 5 frames x 60.15 lpi= 300.75 ppi.)

This method is used when your target resolution is 300 dpi, because your proofing device—the inkjet printer—works in 300 dpi increments (300, 600, 1200, 2400, 4800.) The interlaced files megabyte size will vary due to the changes in physical size and target resolution. This is important to know because if the physical size is large and the target resolution is high you run the risk of creating an interlaced file too large for your computer, RIP, printer, and/or system to handle. A file size of 1-4 gigabytes is not uncommon for final interlaced art that will go to the printing company for production. The closer you are able to interlace to the proofing device's top resolution, the better quality action proof you will create—therefore, producing a higher quality lenticular piece.

Again, using the example above, let's assume 1200 dpi is our target resolution. To achieve this, we will have the same series-pattern of the interlaced images, but rather than having just one set of 5 under each lenticule, we will now have four sets of 5 images under each lenticule. This "x 4" factor will result in a higher interlaced file resolution of 1203 ppi (300.75 x 4.) To do this, you will simply duplicate each frame, or image, four times. Within the interlacing software, it would look like: 1,1,1,1,2,2,2,2,3,3,3,3,4,4,4,4,5,5,5,5 and so on 

This is the higher resolution pattern that will fit under one lenticule. Your lenticular software will take this information, slice the input images, and arrange accordingly. The lenticular software you've selected to use should also be able to walk you through this process in greater detail.