How to Create a 3D Photo with a Craft Knife
Turn your most loved photos into amazing pieces of art to hang in your home with minimal skill or tools required… Check out this easy tutorial to learn how to create a 3D photo with a craft knife!
My family is pretty darn great and I’m so proud of all of them. My sister is a budding entrepreneur and I think her business model is amazing and she’s setting herself up for some pretty awesome success. My nephews are both very smart and kind-hearted and have great personalities and I love spending time with them. My parents are just about the most supportive people ever and will do absolutely anything for me. And these days I’ve been SUPER happy to be so much closer to my family and we’ve got plans for all sorts of things. And in thinking of our fun future plans, I found myself looking at photos from last year’s fun time.
Every year I get to take the boys on vacation and I do my best to do. it. up. Like, I set a budget aside specifically for our annual trip. That’s how big of a deal it is for me so that anything the boys get to do most anything that they want to. Because summer vacation only comes once a year, right? And they’ve only got a handful more of them before they’re off to college and adulting and all of that business so I’m going to savor every summer second I get with them and let them have as much fun as I can :)
Last year they got to go into Natural Bridge Caverns because they really wanted to and I went even though I REALLY. DIDN’T. WANT. TO. I nervously laughed the moment the door closed us into the cavern and as we walked down the stairs I barely held in my panic and laughed my face off. It’s such an awful nervous thing to do because you look insane. Like an awfully reminiscent of the Joker from Batman brand of insane. But the boys wanted to walk ridiculously deep into a hole in the ground for whatever unfathomable reason and so I got us all tickets and I did, too. And then I proceeded to embarrass the living daylights out of them :)
And so when we were at the wax museum there in San Antonio that same trip and my nephew spotted Iron Man wax person and envisioned a pretty awesome photo opp, I was the gal that laid down on the nasty ass ground in my short pink dress to get the shot. But, dude, look up there! That’s a pretty amazing photo, right? And if you’re wondering, no we did not Photoshop in the flare of light coming from Iron Man’s palm. That is straight up excellent ground-level iPhone photography, my friends :) The kid wanted a very specific photo as a souvenir and reminder of our time in SATX and I was going to give it to him come hell or high skirt hems.
When the photo was snapped and approved of (you know how it goes, the moment the shutter goes snap little hands whip the camera or phone around to see the on-screen preview) so that I could dust myself off and hop up off of the ground, we headed into the next exhibit with the group knowing something awesome had just occurred photographically speaking! Every photo that was taken, from the masterpieces, to the just plain ol’ documentation of what went down, was uploaded and shared to a private Instagram account only my family has access to. In the event of a phone getting stolen or dropped into a toilet, or if images get lost, we still have a record, a very modern photo album, I suppose, with all of our fun family vacation photos stashed safely away.
We often look through these photos to reminisce and here recently I was asked to cull images that contained someone that seeing was causing upset. Taking my task on, I got to look every picture and every caption over again and even more closely. And for the longest time, I had wanted to turn 2 photos specifically into fabulous 3D photos to hang up in my craft room/office. With a brand new fancy printer (with wifi! huzzah! that I haven’t figured out how to use, womp! womp!) unboxed and being a person that really likes to use my new toys as soon as I get them, I printed out a whole mess of the same photo over and over again to prep for this fun project.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to figure out how to change the print settings to photo quality, each time I tried I got some sort of an error that sent me a blue screen of death and shut my shiz down. But even with their kind of streaky prints, I am SO IN LOVE with these 3D photographs and so pleased that it didn’t require any fancy craft tools. And someday when I’m less anxious to get to crafting I’ll figure that new darn printer out!!!
Want to learn how to create a 3D photo with a craft knife?
For this project you will need:
- Printed Photographs (typically between 4-6 of the same photo, 1 photo printed per 3D layer)
- Craft Knife – I love my Cricut TrueControl Craft Knife
- Self-healing Cutting Mat
- Foam Mounting Tape
- Cardstock or Matboard
Go through your photos and find your favorite ones that you can easily see dimension where some items and people are closer to the camera and others further away… if the photo looks flat because everything is at the same distance from the camera, like a photo of several people standing in a straight line across the pic, it won’t have enough layers to make it interestingly 3D.
The photo above works well because we have the opportunity for several layers. Working from the fore to background, we have a 5 layer deep image.. 1. the shaka sign (hang loose!) 2. the boogie board 3. my nephew on the left 4. my nephew on the right 5. the beach umbrella overhead and the (not really visible) beach and ocean behind everything.
When locating photos for this project know that images that already have strong shadows work really well. Both of these images are from our trip last year to San Antonio and I figured the one on the left would be the best of the bunch of my 3d pics. The surprise showing of the image on the right, with its direct light and strong shadows, actually works out the best. Though it does look a bit flat from the front, here, in real life when you kind of move around it naturally it’s pretty darn cool looking.
To achieve a 3d photo we’re going to need to print (or have printed) 5 of this photograph to cut and layer. Using a craft knife, or scissors when possible, trim out each of the shapes, people and items as you have identified them as layers. Here we have our 5 different cutouts as planned out in the step above… 1. shaka sign 2. boogie board 3. boy on the left 4. boy on the right 5. original photo with no cuts made with the umbrella and beach.
When trimming out your shapes there will be some spots that can only be cut by a craft knife… See the bottom left cut layer? The area inside where my nephew’s arm meets his hip is cut out so when layered the beach will appear behind him. Cutting these areas might be a bit of effort, but with a good craft knife with a nice and sharp blade will make quick work of these spots and taking the time and making the effort will result in stunning 3D photos when you’re done!
Also, note how we cut each layer… the smallest and very topmost layer is the hand working its way into a hang ten gesture… the layer behind that is the boogie board and rather than trimming out JUST the boogie board, we have both the hand and the board as one solid layer. Keeping everything from the layer just above it also in the cut is how we will build good layers for a nice 3D effect.
Place your original and uncut photograph down in front of you. Take the first cut layer, which will also be the largest, and apply double-sided mounting foam around the backside. The foam is going to actually raise the cut out above the layer behind it making it actually 3D and so we want to be sure to support this layer by spreading out the tape and placing it in the smaller areas (like the tops of their heads) so that when we press the next layer on top, we don’t crush in the photograph in any spots.
Remove the top protective layer from your mounting foam and carefully overlap the cut layer on the photograph. It doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect, but try to get it as close as you can. Take care to try and place it correctly the first time as home-printed photos will lose the ink where the foam is stuck and then removed if you need to reposition, leaving a white spot in that area.
Continue to build the photograph, layer upon layer, using mounting foam where needed to support all layers well.
When done, this is what your 3D photo will look like from the side. Cool, right?
How to Mat and Frame Your DIY 3D Photos:
Once you’ve made your 3D photographs, you can mat and frame them for some pretty stunning results. First of all, you’ll need frames that have a little bit of wiggle room/play in them so that we can jam our thicker than average photos inside of it.
I got these frames at Michael’s in a 4 pack. They are 8×8 inch square with a 5×5 inch photo mat inside… I couldn’t find anything simple for my 4×6 photo so I just cut some of the top and bottom off to make it also 4×4 inches!
Select a color of cardstock that will work well with your 3D photos and then use the mat that came with the frame as a template to cut the stock to the correct outer size. You can also use matboard but since our photos are already pretty thick when stacked up, much thinner cardstock will likely be much more easy to fit into your frame. Cardstock cut into the right shape and size, place it down on your tabletop and then place the original photo mat on top. Use the opening in the original as a guide to mount your photograph onto the cardstock using double-sided mounting foam.
Make sure you’re happy with the placement of your photograph. While not quite perfect, I’m totally cool with the placement of this guy.
I decided to frame my 3D pics with the glass in front for one simple reason… dust is a beast around here with a whole lot of pets and I don’t want to have gunk building up in between the layers. I had worried that it might actually dull down the appearance, making my 3d photos look flat, but it actually didn’t do that at all. The shininess added by the glass only works to emphasize the layers and the shadows that each layer makes. Pretty cool, right?
Definitely cool. 3D photos for the win! :)