How To 3D Print A Picture

Want to make a picture come to life? Want to relive a fun event or memory from your life? If so, you may want to 3D print a picture. Doing so will make these pictures come to life. Having a 3D token of your picture can help you to cherish this event. In addition, it will create a cool visual that has lots of dimensions.

How To 3D Print A Picture

You can even transform your favorite images into lithophanes. The images will only be noticeable when a light has been turned on, creating a very cool effect.

Though this technique is super awesome, it can be difficult to pull off. A lot of people will have no clue as to how to transform their favorite picture into a 3D piece of art. To help you complete this task, follow the simple steps below.


To follow the steps below, you will need a few pieces of equipment. Some of these objects will be more obvious than others. For this task, you will require:

A Favorite Picture Or Image

Obviously, you will need a picture to 3D print. It is a good idea to spend some time thinking about what picture you want to use. The picture will need to be of high quality. It should also be an image that will look cool or interesting when 3D printed.

It is always a good idea to use an image that means something to you. For example, it could be from your favorite film or it could be a photo of you and your best friend.

If you are making this as a gift for someone, you will need to find a photo that is important to them. Of course, you can print off more than one picture. This means that you do not necessarily need just one picture.

3D Printer

As you may have surmised, you will require a 3D printer for this project. These items are quite expensive, though they are worth using if you enjoy making art with plastic. If you are concerned about the cost, you may be able to rent out a 3D printer.


On your computer, you will need software that is capable of turning your prized picture into a 3D model. The tools that you can use for this include Photoshop, Inkscape, Smoothie 3D, or Fusion 360.

Whatever software you end up using will impact the instructions. If you want to turn your picture into a lithophane, there is a handy application specifically for this, entitled Lithophane.

A computer device – whether this is a desktop computer, a laptop, or a phone, you will need a device through which you can transform your image into a 3D model. It is advised that you use a computer device that you are familiar with.

3D Printing Plastic

You will need to acquire a material to print your image onto. ABS filament is a popular plastic used in 3D printing. You can use whatever color you choose. However, if you are intending to create a lithophane, a light color may be optimal.


As mentioned previously, exact instructions for printing a picture in 3D will depend on what software you use. After all, different types of software will have different methods and tools. To help you, this is an overall and more general guide to printing your 3D image. To do this:

Choose A Picture

As stated, this can be pretty much whatever you choose. However, you should consider that more simple images will be easier to print. Once you have picked a picture, save it onto your computer.

Download The Software

Download the software of your choice onto your computer device. If you are looking for some suggestions, check above.

Upload The Image

Load the image onto your software. In Photoshop, you can do this through drag and drop.

Map The Image

Once you have done this, you will need to trace or render the picture into a 3D model. Photoshop features tools that will help you to make a lithophane, namely texture mapping, which should be utilized.

For other software, you will need to trace the bitmap. Always check which 3D tools are available to use. These will help you to enhance your photo and to properly map it.

Clean Up Image

Once your image has been mapped, you should export it to an application that you can use for cleaning up the image. You may be able to neaten up the photo on the application that you were already using.

Tidying the picture may involve removing any parts that you do not want to be printed.

Saving Your Image

Save your 3D image. It is best to do this as an STL.

3D Print The Image

If you have used a 3D printer before, this should be pretty easy. If you plan on transforming this into a lithophane, be sure to not make the material too thick. Regardless of whether or not you are planning on doing this, you should also print at a low speed so that all the details of your picture are clear.

Enjoy your awesome 3D printed picture! If you have made a lithophane, have fun shining a light through your artistic creation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I 3D Print A Regular Photo?

Yes, standard pictures can be printed as 3D models. As long as the picture is of good quality, you can print it. As mentioned, you should be wary that more complex pictures will be harder to print in this way.

What Is An STL?

For those who are unfamiliar with 3D Printing, an STL is a type of file format. This acronym stands for “Standard Triangle Language.” It is used in 3D printing, hence why it is mentioned in this article. These files detail the geometry of a 3D object

Final Thoughts

Though this task may seem extremely strenuous at first, it is very much possible thanks to these simple instructions. It is worth putting in a little effort to create an amazing 3D image.

These models can make really great gifts and can enhance your household. They are easy to personalize, making them an ideal gift.

Michael Moore