How to Convert a 2D Photo to a 3D Photo

By Rianne Hill Soriano

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • 2D to 3D conversion software

  • Computer

  • Source image

  • 3D glasses

The anaglyph system requires using red-cyan glasses to view a 3D image.
i Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Ideally, converting a photo in 3D requires two separate images processed together to provide three-dimensional depth. These stereo photos are “almost identical” left and right photos that are shot simultaneously with cameras that are in short distance from each other. This is similar to how the two human eyes work. If you only have one photo and you want this converted into 3D, it is also possible to do that by using an applicable 2D to 3D conversion software.

Download and install a 3D-conversion program that can also produce stereo images from a single photo. Make sure you select a program compatible with your operating system. Most programs have versions for both Mac and PC.

Open your photo in your conversion program. In most programs, you can specify the output format and the depth effects you want to use for your photo. If you are a general user who doesn't want to go too technical in the process, you can simply follow the default settings or proceed to the program's automated version to produce the required set of stereo images.

Click “Convert,” “Execute,” “OK” or any other similar button referring to the generation of the stereo images. The exact button name depends on the program used for the process.

Check the stereo images that appear in your “Stereo Window,” then select the 3D system you want to use to produce a three-dimensional version of your stereo images. Most programs offer the simpler 3D system called the anaglyph 3D system. Unlike the high cost and more technical demands of other systems, anaglyph 3D makes it possible to readily create and view a do-it-yourself 3D photo. The red-cyan 3D glasses required for it are also very accessible and affordable whether making them on your own or buying them in an online store, video store or vintage store.

Wait for the processing of the 3D image to finish. The final image will show on the screen, and you can view it using a pair of anaglyph 3D glasses.


Some of the popular 3D-conversion programs meant for the general user include StereoPhoto Maker, 3D Combine, 3D-Plus, T3D and VirtualDub. These programs might have their own distinct work interfaces, but they have similar workflows on how to utilize stereo images to produce images with three-dimensional depth.

Depending on the program used, you may also do some manual tweaking on the photo using a depth map and other image-editing techniques that can help make your original photo’s stereo images more accurate when processed as a 3D photo. However, this requires deeper knowledge of 3D and photo editing. For an automated version, the program readily produces the stereo images by correcting the basic information coming from the original photo.

As a popular, practical and accessible 3D system, anaglyph 3D is the only type of 3D system that allows anyone to be able show or play back a 3D photo or video in an iPod or even in the Internet, then have anyone with a pair of anaglyph 3D glasses to view it in 3D format.