Tutorial: Creating “Depth Map” for your  photos for posting 3D Pictures on Facebook

This tutorial takes you through the steps involved in creating and posting a 3D pictures on facebook.

Author : Jathin 

Note: This article assumes you know how softwares like Photoshop and Procreate work; If you are not aware of those, there are apps that can produce a similar effect but with errors; They can be found in the app store or play store.

Facebook introduced the ability to post 3D photos to your feed in late 2018. 3D photos in facebook enable the viewer to perceive the depth in the pictures. Facebook achieves this effect making the layers in the photo move when you tilt, scroll or pan your phone.

How Facebook understands the depth?

The secret is in the depth map of the 3D photo. The Depth Map of a photo contains the information of the depth in the picture in the form of white and black shades. 

Smiley face

3D photo in action in facebook.

There are few ways to create the 3D photos. 

    1. If you have an iPhone with dual camera, it is a straightforward approach; You take a photo of an object in “Portrait Mode”; Open Facebook app and in post type, select 3D photo, the app will open the portrait photos gallery; Post; That’s it.
  • Note : The Android phones supporting these features at the time of this blog entry  are: 
      1. Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Note 9
      2. Samsung Galaxy S9+, S10, S10E, S10+, S10 5G
      3. Samsung Galaxy Fold
      4. Google Pixel, Pixel XL
      5. Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2XL
      6. Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3XL

   B. Creating a “Depth Map” from your photo. This map can be created by some apps out there, but they charge you money after some trial photos and the outputs are not that great. If you have some knowledge on Adobe Photoshop or Procreate, you can create an almost working depth map. I will be using Procreate App on iPad for this demonstration.

Step 1: Take a photo you want to generate a depth map.

I selected an old photo of my grandmother; Why not?

Original

Final Result

Smiley face

Step 2: Estimate the Depth and write on a reference layer. This helps us when creating the depth map.

Smiley face

Step 3: Now you need to know the basics. It is explained in the starting of the article. Just remember : Black = Back; 

    • This is the step we start creating a depth map for the picture. First always start with foreground subject with color #777777.

Smiley face

Then the layer below this layer we go with very slight darker color with the back layer is very near, or more dark shade if the layer is very far. 

**If the layer is in slant position we can start with a slightly darker color at the nearest point to the more dark color at the far end of they lay. For example:

Smiley face

Similarly add all layers one by one. 

Smiley face
Smiley face

Finally add small details like i added a slight light color to the subject’s hand which is comparatively nearer to camera. 

Step 4: After final touches, if the main picture name is x.jpg, then save the depth map with name x_Depth.jpg

Step 5: Fifth and final step, Drag and drop both the images into the facebook post area through desktop browser. (You have to do this in a computer) 

Outputs in Action: 

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