How To Make a: 3D printed Color Lithophane

BY ITSLITHO

In this guide we will explain how to create a color lithophane with the ItsLitho Lithophane maker tool. ItsLitho has the feature to help you to create a color lithophane with only one filament!

We give color to the lithophanes with a piece of paper behind the lithophane. But it can’t be the original photo! We will explain to you in this guide step by step why and how to make your own color lithophane!

What is a color lithophane?

Usually, we print a lithophane with some semi-translucent PLA plastic. When a light is put behind the lithophane a monochromic image will come out of the plastic. This means that just one color with different intensities will show up. To add color in the lithophane, the light of the light source must be colored to the image as well. This can be done by printing the image on a piece of paper, or transparent paper. 

However..

However, your original picture will not work. The lithophane has intensity (brightness) information in it, due to the varying thickness of the lithophane. Therefore, if you were to use the original picture, then the lithophane will look weird. ItsLitho will automatically convert your image to a tailor-made image you can put behind your lithophane. The intensity levels in the picture are removed, which does look very different on paper. But looks amazing when you put it behind your lithophane!

How to make a color lithophane lion preview

Tailor-made image for your color lithophane

We have spent a good amount of time to make sure that images made by ItsLitho, for the color lithophane, have the exact dimensions as your lithophane made in the application! 

Before ItsLitho you had to print the picture first and adjust the lithophane to the dimensions of the picture. Now, with ItsLitho, the images are automatically converted to the exact dimensions of the lithophane!

Tailer-made image lion
Tailer-made image lion

Step By Step Color Lithophane Guide

Step 1: Create your lithophane

First, create your lithophane using the ItsLitho tool. You can create your lithophane  in four simple steps:

  • 1. Upload image tab - Upload the image you want to convert into a lithophane;
  • 2. (Optional) Edit image tab - Enhance the image by increasing the contrast;
  • 3. Create mode tab - Design and tweak your 3D model lithophane;
  • 4. Click on download button.

After you press on the download button. Your lithophane will be created! When your lithophane is ready for to download, you’ll get a pop-up. In the video below you can see how you can create a lithophane.

Step 2: Download your files

To create a color lithophane you will need to download 2 files (see video below).

  • 1. Download the lithophane STL file by clicking on the lithophane button or if you have included attributes like a nightlight, the lithophane + attributes button;
  • 2. Download your tailor-made image by pressing the color lithophane button. The image(s) you have uploaded will be converted to the right dimensions and intensity levels.

Step 3: Print your files

For the perfect color lithophane, we recommend Esun Cool White PLA PRO. We have used this filament for all of our other color lithophanes as well and it is one of the best filaments to use for lithophanes.

You’ll have two file types after downloading. These files must be printed differently:

  • 1. 3D print your STL model lithophane;
  • 2. 2D print (any regular 2D printer will work) the tailor-made JPG image on paper. This can be a regular with paper, but transparent works too!

Now here we need to pay attention. Many programs will try to fit your jpg on the entire A4 paper. We don’t want this! The jpg file has the exact dimensions of the lithophane you made with the tool. We suggest the following technique to 2D print with the exact dimension of your jpg file.

Step 3½: 2D print your tailor-made jpg with Paint​

Yes, Paint. Paint has a feature we need to retain the dimensions of the image. Another plus side is that almost everyone has paint pre-installed on their computer. In the image below we have highlighted these settings!

color lithophane step by step guide paint
  • 1. Open the tailor-made JPG image you have downloaded, in Paint;
  • 2. When you open Paint, go to the File menu in the top left corner;
  • 3. Go to Printing;
  • 4. Then Page setup;
  • 5. Set the Scaling setting to adjust to: 100% normal size;

The only setting you should change is the Scaling setting. After you have set it to 100%, the picture is ready to be printed and will have the correct size for the color lithophane.

  • 6. Print your tailor-made image!

Step 4: Add the tailor-made image on the back of the lithophane

When both prints are ready, we need to do one last thing to make the light shine colors trough the lithophane.

We only need to stick the tailor-made image on the back of the lithophane. Make sure to align it properly, that’s it! You should not use liquid adhesives to stick the paper to the back as it will make the paper wet and make the colors bleed out over the paper. We have had great success with using simple and cheap transparent adhesive tape. 

Now you are all set to make your color lithophane!

Quick side note

The color image only exports to the correct dimensions if a plane, arc or cylinder lithophane is selected. A spherical lithophane distorts the image and thus it is not possible to map a flat sheet of paper on a sphere without cutting the paper. 

Results

All of our color lithophane prints have been a success! The lithophanes without color were already pretty good, but in our opinion, the color added the missing part. The color lithophane is stunning, even more so with your own eyes instead of an online picture. You can now print it yourself with thanks to the Itslitho Lithophane maker!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Design Your Own Lithophane

With ItsLitho you are able to design your own unique lithophane in an easy and adaptive manner. Keep track of your design with the preview model, choose different shapes, add handy attributes and customize it the way you want!

Check out the best products for lithophanes

We have selected the best-known products for lithophanes in our store!