Lithophane Makers: 3D Print Your Own Multi-Color Work of Art

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One of the greatest aspects of 3D printing is that it gives users so much latitude not just to design but also to produce virtually whatever they want, whenever they want. And while Thomas Brooks, the creator of Lithophane Makers, is enjoying all those benefits, he has created a really cool way for everyone to enjoy artistic backlit images and personalize them—whether you are decorating your home, office, or buying gifts in the form of lamps, globes, ceiling fan accoutrements, night lights, and other items.

Turn up to four pictures into a lithophane lamp model.

Currently, the Lithophane Makers website is paid for through donations to Patreon by users, and Brooks intends for the service to remain free to use (with the exception of some beta-testing tools), permitting users to create a variety of lithophane designs easily.

“I have made video tutorials for all of these lithophane generation tools which make them very easy to use. Additionally, we have an active community of users that help each other by answering questions in the Facebook User’s Group,” Brooks emailed 3DPrint.com. “I’m exciting to report that our community is rapidly growing. So far, around 15,000 people have made lithophanes using my website, and in total around 140,000 lithophanes have been designed in the 10 months that we’ve been online.

“I also just completed perhaps my most ambitious and useful lithophane generation tool so far. It creates lithophanes that can be used as lampshades,” Brooks also states on his website. “The tool’s lampshade design provides features that you can easily adjust to make the lithophane lampshade compatible with lamps that you have around your own house. Before this tool came around, lithophane lamps required quite a bit of manual design work by the 3D printer in order to ensure that the lithophane’s fit with the lamp structure.”

If you are curious about how to create your own lithophane, check out this video which goes into detail on how to create one with multiple colors using a tool like the Palette 2 or the Palette 2 Pro; in fact, with Brooks’ new method, you can print four filaments at once, and even vertically. Brooks leads you through the whole process in an entertaining fashion, beginning with downloading the image and then choosing edits and settings like cropping, resolution (including color), layer height, and advises you in-depth regarding slicing options.

For those interested in creating multi-color lithophanes, Brooks also gives detailed instructions on printer settings, along with giving tips on additional settings and transitioning between filaments—and reminding users that patience is key in multi-color printing also as there is some waiting involved:

“It takes an extra five minutes to print in color,” reminds Brooks. “You have to wait for the Palette 2 to splice a bunch of different filament pieces together and get those to your extruder before you can start the print, so of course you have finished slicing, you just download the G-Code and then print it.”

The color lithophane tool turns a picture into the .stl files you need to print a color lithophane.

Brooks has ideas for improvements not only on printing multi-color lithophanes, but also printing the white portion vertically and adding your own custom color palettes. Ready to make your own? Click here.

“When I first learned about lithophanes, I knew immediately that I had to make some for the people I cherish in my life, because they are perfect for sharing memories. I made a few and came to realize that the free tools that are available to make lithophanes could be greatly improved. I made the window lithophane and night light lithophane tool on my own for my own uses, and then decided to share it with the world,” shares Brooks on his Patreon site.

Brooks has also fixed some recent bugs in his lithophane tools lately after being alerted by users, along with adding a circular lithophane maker, faster server, and offering the ability to turn twine tunnels on and off.

While 3D printing is used for many important industrial uses today, it has also deeply impacted artists and craftsman around the world, allowing users to work with multiple photographic images, restoring and conserving artwork, along with creating large-scale pieces. What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Thomas Brooks/Lithophane Makers]

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