Lenticular Printing 101: Incorporate Motion Print on Your Next Project


“Motion cards” have come along way since they started appearing on the sides of cereal boxes in the 1940s.

Thanks to modern printing technology, marketers have been using this unique print technique to catch our attention on everything from movie posters to magazine covers––even large format ads on city streets.

lenticular-makeup.gifvia GlyphNotes

Unlike the simple two-image motion prints of decades ago, today it’s possible to string together a series of images to create a short, compelling visual that stands out against the static background.

So, how do you actually create these unique motion print pieces? It’s called lenticular printing and for those interested in doing something innovative with print, the process is just as interesting as the finished piece.

If you’re new to lenticular printing and interested in integrating motion or 3D prints into your next campaign, we’ve laid out the basics of how it’s done:

How lenticular printing works

To create the effect of motion or three dimensions on a static printed piece, a printer prints two or more images on reflective white paper and cuts each of them into very thin strips called frames.

Those frames are then arranged on the back of a transparent plastic sheet in alternating order. Small ridges on the plastic sheet called lenticules act as a lens between the image and the viewer, refracting light to magnify a specific strip depending on the angle it’s being viewed at.

Since all the strips are aligned in the same order, the viewer sees a complete picture that appears to change as they shift their position relative to the image.

If you’re thoroughly confused, here’s picture to visualize how it works:

qotd607-motion-card-1.gifvia HowStuffWorks

Now that we have a general idea of how it works, let’s run through the basics of planning and producing a lenticular print piece:

1. Decide between animation or 3D

Lenticular printing can create one of two effects: animation or 3D.

If you want to make your image appear to move or transform from one subject to another, the process is slightly different than making a single image “pop out” in 3D.

For an animated or transformative effect, you’ll first need to create each image in the motion sequence as a distinct image as shown in the example below:

TracerGraphix_Morph2.jpgvia Wikipedia

For 3D, it’s a little more complicated. Essentially, several images are taken of the same subject at different angles. When refracted, the viewer sees them in relation to each other, creating the illusion of depth. Talk to us to learn more about how it’s done.

2. Split the images into frames and combine them digitally

Using software, print technicians can divide each image into digital frames and combine them into a single file. This is called interlacing.

3. Print the interlaced image onto the lens

The interlaced image is printed onto the smooth side of the lens with extreme accuracy.


via Wikipedia

Each lenticule must be perfectly aligned with the frames in order for the effect to work.

New technology allows for mass production at low costs

Up until recently, lenticular printing was highly specialized print technique that was too costly to scale up for large-production projects. Thanks to new inkjet and screen-printing techniques, however that’s all changed.

The unique lenticular lens which used to require delicate precision now comes in rolls which can be fed through offset presses at high speeds or printed using UV inkjet machines which allow for large production at low cost.

Interested in using lenticular printing to make your next print project stand out? We are one of the only printers nationally to offer both offset and digital printing. Talk to our team today to learn more.

Photo credit: Peta Pixel

Topics: Print production