Tuesday, September 04, 2018

3D or not 3D, that is not rocket science

I saw an ad recently for "3D print T-shirt" and I thought "They can create T-shirts with 3D printers now? How comfortable would a plastic T-shirt be? Have they figured out a way to print with cotton fibers?" I went to the page the ad promoted and saw that by "3D print" they meant that the picture of the dog's head printed on the shirt is so clear that it looks like it's projecting outward from the shirt. Um, that's not 3D. I know that if I suggested to them that what they meant was "tromp l'oeil," they would have no clue what that was. What they could call it is "dimensional illusion" or "faux dimensional." That's not too hard to understand. And it wouldn't be misleading like "3D print."

Out of curiosity, I searched for ""3d t-shirt"" and got 3,900,000 results. Wait. What? 3.9 million?? I wonder how many of those results refer to an actual 3D T-shirt. Probably close to none. A 3D T-shirt would be one that requires 3D glasses to see the image printed on it appearing to project outward from the shirt. I suppose you could say that "3D T-shirt" means a shirt printed with images of digital 3D models like what they use for computer animation. So, any of the 3.9 million shirts that have images of characters from computer-animated productions could probably be referred to as a "3D T-shirt" or a "3D print T-shirt." But an enhanced HD photo of a dog's head looking at the camera can't. That's a dimensional-illusion T-shirt. I noticed a T-shirt on another page that had the caption "3D cross." The image printed on the T-shirt was a 2D line drawing representing a 3D object from an oblique angle. Nope. Sorry. It's still 2D, even though all the appropriate lines converge at a single vanishing point. You could call it "Perspective cross." But the 3D is only suggested by the perspective. The image on the shirt remains 2D.

Out of curiosity, I searched for ""not 3d" "3d t-shirt"" and got 2,630 results. Mostly the results on the first two pages refer to a T-shirt with the text "3D or not 3D." I didn't look very long, but I did find, on page 3, one person commenting to a T-shirt designer who used a 3D printer to print a design onto a T-shirt: "You ARE NOT 3d printing a 2d design. you are JUST PRINTING." So, then, yeah, okay, if the T-shirt designer had printed a 3D object onto a T-shirt, that would be, more or less, a 3D-printed T-shirt. But none of the shirts I found on the different retail sites I visited had objects projecting from them. They just had 2D images characterized by chiaroscuro shading. Nope. Sorry. Still 2D.

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