How To 3d Print Lithophane

How To 3d Print Lithophane

To 3D print your own lithophane from your image, start by choosing a picture with a reasonably high contrast ratio. Next, use either Cura, Image to STL converter, lithophanes application, or PhotoToMesh to generate the 3D model of the image. Finally, slice the model and 3D print the image.

You’d be amazed at the level of detailing that results from 3D printing a lithophane from your image. However, do ensure that you upload the Lithophane to the slicer upright to preserve the quality of the picture. 

3D Printing a Lithophane from your Image from Start to Finish 

Lithophanes are printed on thin, transparent material using varying thicknesses. The thicker parts of the lithophane block more light than the thinner parts, allowing users to create customized designs that are revealed when you shine light through the final product. The outcome of your 3D lithophane is reliant on the type of filament used and the level of detail in your image.

It is recommended to use light colors when printing lithophanes, as they tend to produce the best results. White is typically considered the best color to use, even at lower temperature settings.

Here’s are simple steps to the answer to your question. At the end of this section, you will be able to beat your chest in confidence whenever the need to convert any 2D image to Lithophane using a 3D printer arises.

Step 1: The first thing you should do is select the perfect digital photos

Does the perfect image exist? Well, we’ll leave that to you to find out. However, when choosing a Lithophane image, the better the contrast and definition of the image, the better the results. Since lithophanes function by highlighting the brighter elements of your image, here are some things to note for higher quality lithophanes:

  • The selected image must have high sharpness and contrast
  • All shadows must be evident 
  • If the image comes with too many details, it might be trouble
  • The overall quality of the image will depend on the printer quality and lithophane size

Step 2: The second thing you should do is choose your preferred design software

Once you have the right image, opt for software that makes the entire design process easy. We’ve discussed some of the more popular lithophane design software in the section above. However, it’s crucial you realize that these design softwares have strengths and weaknesses. 

Cura, for one, is easy to use and comes with a bunch of smoothening options, but it limits your freedom to set frames around the image. Lithophanes application makes up for the weaknesses of the Cura software. It, however, doesn’t offer any smoothening options. 

Moving further, there is the customizable lithophane software on Thingiverse. Even though it helps you add frames to the image, you would have to wait for Thingiverse to generate the STL file instead of directly through the computer. Finally, the Photomesh application also allows you to perform a variety of customization. However, it is pricey, and the interface might be confusing. 

Now that you know this, all we have to say is do not be scared to experiment with every one of them till you find your preferred option.

CuraIt is simple to use Allows for smoothing It does not allow you to set a frame around the image
Lithophanes ApplicationIt allows you to tweak the Lithophane and add a frameYou cannot smoothen with it
Customizable Lithophane thingIt gives freedom to add a ring to the frame to aid the hanging of the Lithophane. Thingiverse scales down the image to 100*100, reducing the process’s resolution.You cannot tweak the final image
PhotomeshYou can print on a cube or sphere and several other shapesYou can select the area you want to printIt is not freeIts interface is confusing

Step 3: Generate the 3D model

Once you have chosen the proper application, generate the 3D model using any of the applications discussed in this section of the article.

Step 4: Slice your lithophane model

Slicing your lithophane model refers to converting the Stl file generated by the 3D software into a .gcode that your 3D printer will use for printing. Then a slicing software carries out the slicing process and slices the 3D model into individual layers.

Some of the more popular slicing software include; 

  • Cura (Ultimaker)
  • IdeaMaker
  • Repetier-Host
  • OctoPrint
  • Slic3r

Once you choose one, ensure that you set the infill to 100% and ensure that the rectilinear is at a 30-degree angle. This will prevent the filament from drooping into the infill. Also, ensure that you choose the lowest layer height your printer supports. This will provide a better print resolution.

Step 5: Print 

Now that you have successfully gone through all steps discussed above, all you need to do is print the Lithophane. For printers that support SD card readers, use the SD card option to transfer the file. With a card reader, you don’t have to worry about slow transfer and print time associated with USB transfers.

Ways to make a Lithophane Model

Creating a lithophane model can be done by adopting a variety of methods. It’s our duty to intimate you on these methods. This section of the article will buttress the softwares mentioned in steps 2 and 3 above.

Note that the different methods used to make Lithophane models follow the same working principle. First, they identify the primary form of the image, proceed to emboss and provide it with a border before finally releasing the final file in 3D format.

Using Online Tools

You can make a Lithophane with just a printer, working internet, and your PC. Here are three of the most popular websites for making Lithophane models.


There are several online tools for creating and designing lithophane models; however, many people prefer 3DP Rocks, and for a good reason too. It’s a free source image-to-lithophane converter that is

  • easy to use and
  • offers a quick preview of the Lithophane. 

You need to visit the 3DP Rocks website, click the images button, and upload the image you wish to convert to Lithophane. 

After processing your image, you can proceed to choose the lithophane type you want. Next, play around with the thickness, size, and curves. Refresh to see if the changes have been effected. Finally, click on the download button to get the STL file of the 


Itslitho.com is yet another free online tool you can use to convert your image to Lithophane. It offers slightly better results than the 3DP tool because it offers you access to 9 different lithophane types. To get started, enter the website. Next, click on the upload button. 

With your image uploaded, move back to the model tab and adjust the lithophane setting to suit your preferences. View the changes and proceed to save and download the STL file. 


The lithophanemaker.com website is another lithophane maker. This tool is set apart from the first and second as you can create a lithophane box with it. Additionally, you’d also be able to make ten other types of Lithophane, bringing the total to 11. 

All you need to do is click on the Lithophane you want. Next, upload the image you wish to convert to Lithophane and crop the image. 

Once the image is uploaded, select “Click Here to view Lithophane” and customize the Lithophane to your preference. 

All that is left to do is select the “Create Lithophane” icon to get the STL file.

This table showcases three different online lithophane tools and the types of shapes you can create with them.

3DPRocks.com Itslitho.comLithophanemaker.com
FlatFlatLithophane lamp
Inner curveArc Heart lithophane 
Outer curveVaseLithophane globe 
Solid cylinder BellCeiling fan lithophane 
Rectangular pillowCylinderLithophane lightbox
Dome on topPumpkinColor Lithophane 
Dome on sideLampFlat Lithophane 
HeartSphereCurved Lithophane 
Christmas tree lithophane 
Circular Lithophane 
Night light lithophane 

Using Cura 

The Cura 3D printing software developed by Ultimaker is a popular choice among many. It is excellent for converting 2D images to Lithophane and comes with its slicing software. 

This software is free to install and is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. First, you need to download and open the software, then open the image you wish to convert by dragging it into Cura. 

Once in Cura, you will be able to customize the image height, width, thickness, and several other 3D settings. Clicking okay will convert your 2D image to a 3D model. 

Using Adobe Photoshop

The popular image editing software Photoshop is not left out of the 2D to lithophane funfest. The feature has been available since the CS5 version of Photoshop. 

Here’s an easy way to use Adobe Photoshop to create 3D model lithophanes. 

Start by opening the image in Photoshop. 

Now, proceed to download the “Make lithophane” action set using this link http://static.photoshop.com/content/downloads/Actions.zip

This Photoshop Action refers to a series of Actions used to edit and save images repeatedly in the image editing process. 

Once the download is complete, unzip and view the Lithophane actions folder. Open the folder, and you will see the Lithophane.atn file; click on it. 

Alternatively, you can go to the menu tab on Photoshop after downloading the “Make lithophane” action set and check the actions. This will open the actions toolbox. An easier route is by pressing Alt+F9

In the Make Lithophane folder, you will see the Make Lithophane action

Before running the Action, remember to specify the Lithophane size you want. To do this, click on image size in the Action menu. 

We also advise you to change the layer name to the background and click on unlock layer to prevent any possible errors when the Action is running. 

Once you have done these, click on the Start Action button, and do remember that selecting Whole action steps instead of a single step will ensure that you achieve the results you want.


Q: What is a 3D printed lithophane?

A: A 3D printed lithophane is a 3-dimensional image that can vary the intensity of light that passes through it. These embossed images have thick and thin areas. The thin regions allow more light to pass through, while thick areas prevent light.

Q: What material is used for Lithophane?

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