ItsLitho is a new website that offers customizable lithophane generation. Using 3D printers with personal images had brought this classical art form into the digital age. Modern technology allows hobbyists to create flat, curved and complex designs for their lithophanes. Illuminated with LED light sources, the combination of shapes is nearly endless. ItsLitho’s blog explains more about how lithophanes work, printing tips and their history. Why not check out their blog?
Update with Inov3D’s ItsLitho Review
While testing ItsLitho.com Mechanical Bob Modrow discovered their extremely customizable features and settings. Simple or complex designs can be created by new and experienced makers alike. After creating an account, projects can be saved, edited and shared. Although the website and initial “press release” covered most of the features, he still highlights the options and experiment results.
ItsLitho Website, Accounts and Profiles
Creating your ItsLitho account is easy and straightforward. Having an account allows you to save, edit and share your projects. As mentioned above, the ItsLitho site has several tutorial guides and blog articles. These will help to create good quality lithophane prints. NOTE: Create your account prior to creating a complex project you want to save. When I created an account, my initial design was unfortunately lost in the process.
The profiles section is where you save and open your files. Besides personal files, ItsLitho has provided some sample project files. These profiles can be used as templates, learning tools and design inspirations. At this time, I have not seen any publicly shared profiles from other users.
ItsLitho’s website requires four steps to create 3D printable STL files. This includes Uploading your Image, Editing your Image, Designing your Model and finally Downloading your STL file. Although the process is simple, the ability to tweak and customize your project is outstanding. The number of options and settings can be a bit overwhelming at first. Thankfully, the combination of basic terminology, click-able tool-tips, guides and pre-made profiles will get you up to speed quickly. Below is more information about the four steps and customizing options. NOTE: Depending on your computer and internet capabilities, changing a setting typically results in a nearly instantaneous update of the model preview.
Tab and Option Overviews
- Upload Image(s) – Requires a single click to bring up your computer’s folder interface. Multiple pictures can be selected for designs that support more than one.
- Edit (Image) – This is where you edit the quality of your image, as it is converted to grey-scale for lithophane creation. Typically, the default settings are acceptable for most images. However, additional tweaking can improve the final print quality. The inclusion of multiple tools means users do not need to rely on separate photo editors to adjust their pictures.
- Grey Scaling – Allows for specific color adjustments and conversion methods. These tools are similar to adjustment layers.
- Image Editor – Includes familiar sliders for Brightness, Contrast, Exposure and Blur
- Image Transformations – Allows for image Rotation, Cropping, Mirroring and Flipping. All of these are great tools if using a crooked and mirrored selfie image!!
- This is the tab where the fun and creativity really begins. But don’t worry, you can always go back and edit your image adjusts as needed.
- Shape Options – As the name implies, first you select the shape of your lithophane project. Depending on your selection, multiple size and shape options will appear. The first setting to consider is how big do you want your print to be. To achieve the best results, do not resize a lithophane STL within your slicer. Instead, simply edit your profile and download the updated profile.
- Frame Options – This is another straightforward editing zone. How thick and deep do you want the frame around your image? The internal angle of the frame can also be edited. Using the default of 45 degrees is acceptable for most 3D printers, especially FDM 3D printers. Excessive angles will require supports, which are rarely used when 3D printing lithophanes.
- Adjusting the mm per pixel setting will affect the print quality as well as the file size. ItsLitho’s tool-tip provides some detailed information about this setting and a note that some slicers cannot handle files larger than 480 MB.
- Attributes (Lamps, Nightlight, Hook, etc) – Availability of these features varies with the Shape Options selected above. After setting up your shape, size and frame options, you can spend a lot of time setting up custom lighting options. Whether you are using a table lamp, night light or LED puck light, there are numerous size and spacing options available. Unfortunately, no two brands of light sources are the same. Therefore, you will want to carefully measure your device and adjust the size sliders accordingly.
- Model Options – Using this section lets you have some fun adjusting the color of your plastic and light source. White lithophanes may be the most common, but with a bright light, the color options are almost endless.
- Image Options – In this section, additional image adjustments can be made. Adjustments vary with the shape options. Common features available are positive/negative image, flip image, mirror image, horizontal & vertical placement and zoom (with some shapes).
- NOTE: As mentioned a few times, not all features are available or necessary for all shapes. Experimenting and using the quick preview screen is easy and the fun part of lithophane creation.
- After hitting the download button, the model generation begins. Then file download options appear. (Complicated profiles will take a bit longer to complete). Designs that have extra “attributes” like lamp rings, night light frames or puck holders can be saved attached or as separate STL files. Separate pieces will need to be glued. The detached attribute pieces can be printed quicker with normal printer settings and perhaps with alternative colors or materials.
ItsLitho 3D Prints
Here are some 3D printed lithophanes I created with ItsLitho. Since I have not printed many lithophanes, my printer profiles are not perfectly dialled in. Additionally, I used multiple machines, materials, brands, nozzle sizes and layer heights. Most of my projects were printed with 0.10 to 0.12 layer heights with 0.4 nozzles. A few were done with a 0.6 nozzle just to see the results. With all of the variable, the prints all came out with similar quality, except for the glove. Unfortunately, the profile for that one allowed for excessive flow and stringing.
This project is an example of a basic Plane shape. The overall size and thickness were adjusted to make a quick test print. Blue PLA+ from GST3D was used for fun and the actual bridge IS painted blue. Using the light blue plastic did not affect the quality, it simply makes the lighting effect a little dimmer.
Sphere with Light Socket
After creating a custom mirrored collage with custom text, the Sphere shape was used. The Lamp was Enabled using a Bulb Fitter and Connectors. The size and connectors were modified so my small puck light could slip inside the fitter’s hole. Unfortunately, the slicer profile was not dialled in yet and excessive surface blobs were left behind. For personal or family use, this will be acceptable. I would never sell it to a paying customer as is. Taking the extra time dialling in your material and profile is helpful. Smaller test pieces like the blue bridge are ideal for this. Overall, the printed details are still excellent. The time spent adjusting the picture size and location resulted in a better-looking design.
Arc as Night Light
This profile started as an Arc. Using the Attributes tab allows Enable Lamp, Bulb Fitter, Connectors and Nightlight settings. The options to fit my nightlight were adjusted while leaving the bulb distances at their defaults. Overall, the quality was good for the small size and low lumen LED bulb.
Arc with Puck Holder
Here is another Arc profile which uses a Lamp and Puck light. Sizes were adjusted to hold an IKEA Ledberg puck. Additionally, the Puck Angle for the holder was tweaked to center the output of the small light source. The print quality of my customized image was good. A larger or multiple light source would create a more even lithophane effect.
Arc – Puck Holder 2
This project is another Arc with a Puck light. The taller height and strong contrast between the top and bottom issues created some issues. Using CURA the slicer wanted to add many supports, especially in the middle. To avoid the supports, Make Overhangs Printable was used within CURA. Fortunately, there were enough details to not significantly affect the lithophane quality. Once again, a larger or further away light source would create a better illumination effect. The print quality of this high resolution collage was very good. Using yellow makes for a darker lithophane, but was fitting for the CyberPunk 2077 theme.
Christmas Specials Ball
Creating this design prior to creating my account unfortunately results in loss of the project files. Fortunately, his was an easy profile to create. Beginning with the Christmas Special Ball, the image location was adjusted within the Image Options. Afterwards, the size and thickness was adjusted. Everything on this print looks good except for the Hex3D logo, which was a little too small for this project.
Heart with Hook – Multiple Colors
Finally, the newly released 2021 Heart was created to illustrate various plastic colors using the same design. Enable Hook attribute is also a new feature that has been added to some of the shapes. I printed the three heart lithophanes on two different printers. I printed red on a Kywoo Tycoon with GST3D Red PLA+. Extrusion length was too short for the red’s gcode, resulting in excess stringing. SunLu White PLA+ and GST3D Pink PLA+ were printed on a Tenlog TL-D3 Pro IDEX printer using duplication mode. The pink plastic is nearly translucent and highlighted the printers minor ghosting. Using various brands and shades of white is probably the most common method of 3D printing lithophanes. Looking at the results, it’s quite obvious why. Regardless, most any desired colors can be used. You will need to adjust your thicknesses and slicer settings as you change colors, brands and material types.
Review Thoughts and Comments
Overall ItsLitho is a feature packed lithophane creating site. Image zoom seems to be the only feature missing from most of the shapes. Thankfully, the creators mentioned in their Facebook group that they will try to work on that limitation. ItsLitho has several outstanding features that should keep you going back to their site. Below is my list. Hopefully, you enjoy experimenting at the ItsLitho.com website as well!
- Multiple Shapes – Obviously more shapes and attributes you have the more projects you can create at a single website. Additionally, ItsLitho is still developing new shapes, attributes and features.
- Customization – overwhelming at first, but exactly what you need when creating complex personalized designs
- Tutorials, Blog and Tool Tips – Helpful for all hobbyists to make better (ItsLitho) lithophanes
- Pre-made Profiles – Good Inspiration and learning tools for complex idea
- Online Account and Project Saves – Great for editing your projects or making new ones with preferred settings
- Grayscale Image Editor – Excellent adjustments without the need for a separate program
- Light Holder – The ability to print them separately can save time while allowing for different slicer settings, colors, materials, etc.
Original Article Featuring ItsLitho’s Press Release
ItsLitho is a new and fresh lithophane maker where you can convert your images to 3D printable lithophanes. The tool contains a powerful set of features, every lithophane designer wants. The tool has clear & simple steps, which makes it very easy to use and learn.
ItsLitho Online Lithophane Maker
One of the additional features in contrast to other tools is that ItsLitho Online has an image editor that gives you the ability to have control over the converting process, which is one the most important parts of making lithophanes.
Another remarkable fact about Itslitho lithophane tool is that they give you a lot of 3D model options to design your lithophane with, like different shapes, frames and light holder attributes. The best part is that you can keep track of every change with the realistic live preview of the 3D model, which can replicate light behind the lithophane!
A fun feature of ItsLitho is the Color Lithophane. In short, it helps you to download a tailor-made image which can be 2D printed and needs to be put on the back of the lithophane. To learn more about them, they wrote a step-by-step guide on how to make color lithophanes.
The makers behind ItsLitho
ItsLitho is a joint venture of two friends from different disciplines. Parallel to writing their thesis, they have decided to start a project. The project is about learning and mastering new skills, by creating a complex web application, related to their hobby and focused on helping people with it. As a result, with these ambitions and a great idea, they have built ItsLitho, to make the life of lithophane designers easier and more creative.
So why did we start ItsLitho?
January 2019–we got the idea to build a website about lithophanes. Like many, we got inspired by the Youtube channel RClifeon. Since introducing cheap(er) 3D-printers, we have made many lithophanes for friends and family. Unsurprisingly, they make for splendid gifts!
The idea came out of the frustration of the limitations in speed, customisation and user-friendliness with tools available at that time. With the feeling that we can make it better and easier, and is eager to learn more about the ins and outs of building a website application. We transformed the idea into a big fun project! With this idea in mind, we have put our knowledge together and improved our skills to make it happen.
After the first proof of concept a couple of months into the project, we were very enthusiastic and happy about the results and knowledge we have got along the way. However, the website still needed more speed and better usability. Being perfectionists came in handy as we are striving for it to be as good as possible.
6 months after the proof of concept, we were delighted and proud about the results, so wanted to share our beta version application with the 3D printing community. The reactions were very positive and enthusiastic. We want to thank you for the feedback and kind words. This motivates us to work harder and better to continue developing the tool!
Fast. Faster! No, even faster!
We wanted our application to be stable and fast, but like, really fast. One of our biggest frustrations were the crashes and the waiting time to generate lithophanes with the tools available at that time. Hence, we’ve spent months increasing the performance of ItsLitho to its max. As a result, this means up to 15 times faster application which can generate lithophanes with up to 25 times more detail without crashing! This really took our application to the next level!
For instance, you can now preview the lithophane in milliseconds to seconds with the highest quality, without crashing the website! We even managed to generate lithophanes so large in file size, that it crashed the slicer instead of our lithophane maker! Maybe we need to ask for Cura to up their game 😉
The tool needs to be able to do that, and that, oh, and that!
Another bottleneck we experienced with the lithophane maker tools were the limitations of the features. The shapes mostly came with standard settings. There was even a sphere lithophane available in one of the tools which were a solid(?). This defies the idea of a lithophane, which should be hollow to put a light in it. That made us think about giving the user full control over almost every aspect of the tool. We also added the option to import multiple images, add attributes for light holders, different shapes with highly customizable settings to give users full control.
Make it an all-in-one solution, put an Image editor in there
Editing your image is one of the critical aspects of generating the perfect lithophane. It can be the difference between a good lithophane and an exceptional lithophane. As a result, we’ve implemented an image editor in the lithophane maker for the most essential image settings.
We wanted the tool to be an all-in-one solution for modelling your lithophane. For example, in ItsLitho, you can edit your images by adjusting the red, green and blue channels and the contrast and brightness of your picture. This takes away the barrier for needing advanced software like Photoshop or GIMP for editing the image beforehand.
Slide your way to the perfect lithophane with ItsLitho
We strove for the tool to be extensive but simple and easy to use. So we defined three tabs in the tool:
You should start with the “Upload Image” tab. This tab, as the name suggests, is where you can upload an image or multiple images. Press the upload button to upload your picture(s). You can also delete the pictures in this tab.
As we mentioned, we have an image editor in the “edit image” tab. For instance, here you can edit your image if it needs more or less contrast. You can do this with different (slider) options. A simple slide to the left or right can change your image to a masterpiece lithophane.
Create a model
Most importantly is the model creator tab. In this tab, the real magic happens. Your uploaded image(s) will be displayed on the preview screen. The slider options appear. It’s time to create your model! There are a lot of sliders, which might be daunting at first but are easy to understand when you give it a second look. Furthermore, if you don’t, fair not. Just hover over the text for more information.
The first setting group is where you can select your desired shape. You can also add a frame or border to the model and an attribute for light or good foundation. Make every pixel worth it with the pixels per mm option to increase the details of your lithophane. You can even try the preview with different colours if you wanted to print the lithophane with colour filament or different colour light.
Puck attribute – Light holder – 25-04-2020
Puck LEDs can be a great way to light up your lithophane. With the new attribute of ItsLitho, you can easily implement a puck led holder. Adjust the parameters matching your puck led!
Lithophane profiles – 05-09-2020
Itslitho present lithophane profiles. You can now make an account & save your lithophane profiles. Not only your creations, but you can also share it easily with other lithophane designers.
To sum up, we are thrilled and proud of the website and application so far. But like we said, it’s only the beginning of our journey to make the perfect lithophane maker application. We are keen to improve the website and learn more! We would like to hear your opinion about the application, and we are happy to listen to feedback and suggestions.
Feedback and suggestions can be sent to [email protected]
Follow ItsLitho on Social Media!