I have been having a blast figuring out lithophanes and working out how to best make them. I think I'm going to start offering custom lithophane services in the store, which technically means I shouldn't give away how I'm making them... but that's not the sort of guy I am.
First thing I discovered is the local dollar store sells nightlights that I can print a holder for that will illuminate the lithophanes really well.
If you would like to make your own just follow these steps:
- Download BMPtoIGES
- Choose a source image with good contrast.
- Scale the picture to about 800x600 (the more pixels the more points in the final mesh the harder to process)
- In BMPtoIGES load your picture
- Set your edgecolor to black (so the holder has something to hold on to)
- Enter the following settings:
- File->Save and Process, choose STL and save your file
- Import the STL in Blender or your favorite mesh editing program
- Scale the STL by 50% in the Z only (I suppose you could change the 75 to 150 and just scale in all directions by 50%)
- Slice and print (I like to lay mine down. That works pretty well in my experience)
The Z-scaling is because I don't think BMPtoIGES likes decimals in its boxes.
I'm really surprised at how easy the process is... once I figured everything out. There was a lot of experimentation to get here, but in the end I'm fairly satisfied with the results. So don't let my suffering be in vain and enjoy making your own Lithophanes.