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[GUIDE] Lithophany – making artworks with a 3D printer

Lithophany is the new frontier of illustration… no, don’t worry, you haven’t gone back in time to the time of the caveman. Not even in the early 1800s. And no, you won’t need a tow and a chisel.
All you need is our beloved printer, a photo or an image and that’s it!
So simple you’ll ask for it? No…but…almost.


There are a thousand ways to print a lithophany or a lithograph from an image, with some slicers you can load a jpeg and give some setting, there are drawing programs and applications suitable for the purpose. But we like simple things as usual. We will describe below the easiest and most immediate method to create a lithograph, but that also offers many possibilities and options.

Let’s talk about the 3dp Rocks webapp. This webapp is very complete and offers us a really wide range of options, combined with an amazing simplicity. Let’s briefly describe how this webapp works.


Lithophany Process

First let’s connect to the site: . As soon as we arrive we will be faced with a very simple page, at the top we find the 3 buttons that interest us.
Moving on images we will have the possibility to upload the image we want to lithograph, using the browse or drag and drop.
Already at this point we would be able to export the processing of the image but it is worth taking a look at the many options under settings: Let’s analyze them one by one

Lithophany: Model Settings

Maximum size: Allows us to increase or decrease the size of the model
Thickness: Allows us to set the desired thickness of the print (default is 3mm)
Border: Creates a smooth short (actually shrinking the image)
– Thinnest layer: is the thinnest layer that we can find in the model that corresponds to light or dark
Vectors per pixel: the resolution of the finished product is nothing more (the preset 4 is already very good)
Base/Stand depth: in theory it should be the basis, but it doesn’t work for us

Lithophany: Image Settings

Positive/Negative image: Here we need to go a little further as this option determines whether we are creating a lithophany or a lithograph.


Using the “positive” option (as you can see by looking at the image above) it represents light colors by associating layers and dark colors with a thickening, and can be catalogued as a lithophany.

On the contrary, the negative composes a lithograph: representing light colors with more layers than dark colors.
For a good rendering, pay attention to the section chosen of the materials. (Example Below)

Mirror image: it spells the image
– Flip image: inverts the image
– Repeat X and Y, mirror repeat, flip repeat: basically these commands repeat the image in X, Y, mirroring or inverting it. They are used for abstract drawings that must be repeated over and over again.


One last option is below the image, with these options we basically decide what form we want our beautiful lithograph to take. We have a wide choice between flat, concave curve, convex and a series of options up to heart-shaped, which we suspect to be the suitable shape for Valentine’s Day.

Once we have set up our lithography as we like, we will simply have to export it with the Download button and here we are served with our image in STL format.

Now you have to go through the Slicer program, here are some tips to get the best results.

There are few parameters to pay attention to

Layer height: it is recommended to use a layer height of 0.1 mm
Filling: the infill must be absolutely 100%.
Print speed: any speed can be used, even 100 mm/s (if the printer supports it)

Lithophany: Material selection

As we have seen before, we have basically 2 ways of representing the image: Litophany and Lithography.

The lithophany corresponds to the Positive option, for this kind of representation it is advisable to use the transparent filament (or at least the translucent one) because to appreciate the details we will have to place a light source behind our print.

For lithography, on the contrary, we should use filaments with a “full” composition. The colour with the best yield for the high relief is white. Also in this case we can use the transparent filament, provided, however, to place on the back of the print a tablet (also printed 3d) of equal size and dark color, in order to better appreciate the details.


Being a very thin figure but very large and distributed on the plane is recommended. Before printing, the calibration of the plate. For an optimal calibration you can follow this guide.

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