HueForge Allows Artists to Print Stunning Photos with a 3D Printer

Formnext Germany

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3D printers should be used to make 3D objects right? Well, that’s if you only think inside the box. Some artists are forgoing the status quo and are now experimenting by printing 2D lithophanes using a 3D printer. One of the latest developments in this effort has been HueForge, a program originally designed to help artists color-blend 3D printed lithophanes. It was created by Horn & Rhode and while it is still in development, HueForge could offer artists an exciting new tool to add to their belt and reimagine the capabilities of a 3D printer. 

We initially came across the tool through a reddit post by u/TegidTathal, and after seeing their 3D printed lithophane of Taylor Swift, we couldn’t help but look into how they did it. 

3D printed lithophane of Taylor Swift printed by u/TegidTathal (Image courtesy of u/TegidTathal’s reddit.)

Lithophanes have been around since the 1820s and were originally made of porcelain. With 3D printers, the art form has seen a resurgence, and now anyone with a FDM printer can print their own at home. Horn & Rhode’s technology expanded on the 3D printed lithophane and was created to bring a splash of color to the prints. 

The program was originally called “Color Lithophane Builder” and exploits the FDM filaments’ transmissitive factor. Depending on the filament, color, and layers used on a print, a certain amount of light will shine through.  By compiling information of many different filaments, Horn & Rhode’s technology uses a CMYK color operation to predict the layers and colors needed to blend the filaments together. The results are amazing and are exemplified in the “You Shall Not Pass” backlit lithophane seen below.   

3D printed backlit lithophane using HueForge software. (Image courtesy of Horn & Rhode substack.)

A 3D print showing the intrinsic transmissitive factor of FDM filament. (Image courtesy of Horn & Rhode’s substack.)

The artist touts three major features of the software:

  1. Backlight Lithophanes
  2. Frontlit “Reverse” Lithophanes
  3. Color predicting for external STL files

From the work Horn & Rhode have on their Etsy store, our minds are already thinking about the possibilities this technology has in the future.  The software is set to be released in mid-June, but may be delayed if any complications arise. If you want to stay up to date with everything going on with HueForge, the newsletter from Horn & Rhode substack is the best way to keep up to date. Early estimates have the subscriptions coming in around $12 for personal use and up to $80/year for an annual license of the Pro version.

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