How to Give 3D Parallax Effect to 2D Images

How to Give 3D Parallax Effect to 2D Images
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In this short article, we will show how you can get an impressive 3D parallax effect on a regular 2D image using exclusively PowerPoint tools.

Imagine a usual 2D image on your slide that suddenly takes depth and movement. None of the audience will remain indifferent, right?

If you want to apply this technique

  1. you will get a great opportunity to make the slides memorable, and the presentation irresistible and
  2. you will not need specific design skills or experience working with complex graphic programs. Only PowerPoint!

Below we give an example of how to achieve this result with just PowerPoint tools and animations.

An Example of 3D Parallax Effect on a 2D Image

Here is a flat image that we got to illustrate our article. On it two visual plans are clearly expressed: the foreground and the background. In the foreground – a sports plane brightly lit by the sun, in the background – a view of mountains in a barely noticeable haze.

Adding 3D parallax effect to a 2D image

And look what we did using the PowerPoint animation tools twice: the first time for the foreground, the second for the background.

However, not everything is as it seems. And that’s why.

How We Got Layers for this 2D Image

We decided that to illustrate our task, a large, brightly-lit object on a beautiful background is best suited. Aircraft? Why not?

Foreground Layer

The aircraft: original 2D image for illustrate 3D parallax effect
We took this photo by Roman Bader from Pixabay

First of all, we needed to split the 2D image into two layers to illustrate the 3D parallax effect:

  1. the foreground – the plane standing on the track of the unpaved airfield
  2. and everything else as a background.

For this purpose, we used the Free Form tool and Merge Shapes tools: Fragment, Intersect, and Subtract.

we used the Free Form tool and Merge Shapes tools

As a result, we got two separate layers: this one as the foreground…

The aircraft: foreground layer for illustrate 3D parallax effect

…and this one as the background:

The aircraft: background layer

Background Layer

Even a cursory glance at the resulting background is enough to understand that we have nothing to fill this huge hole with. Here, even Adobe Photoshop will not be able to cope, but we promised to get by with PowerPoint only, remember?

Therefore, we put this background aside and replaced one mountain with another. This one:

we replaced one mountain with another
Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

And what? Good mountain. No worse than the one with the hole, right?

But a little needed to be fixed!

  1. But first, we cropped the image and removed the unnecessary reflection of the mountains.
  2. Then we flipped the image horizontally and got the right lighting.
    we flipped the image horizontally
  3. Finally, we changed the color temperature from 6500K to 4700K to get a morning landscape instead of an evening one.
    we changed the color temperature to get a morning landscape

And voila, this is a wonderful background for our aircraft, right?

How We Assembled the Final Scene

So, we had the necessary layers as two PowerPoint objects and we started to assemble the final scene.

  1. We created an empty slide and placed a rectangle of the same size with an outline on top to easily see the edges of the slide.
  2. Then we placed an object with a background in the scene and cropped it so that the horizontal size of the background becomes slightly larger than the slide. This will allow us to scroll the background inside the slide.
  3. Then we did the same with the foreground object.
  4. And finally, we slightly blurred the edges of the foreground object to hide the sharp border between the objects.
    we slightly blurred the edges of the foreground object

That’s all! The scene was ready.

3d parallax effect 2d scene

The turn of animation has come.

3D Parallax Effect on a 2D Image

Speaking of the parallax effect, Wikipedia claims that:

Some display systems support multiple background layers that can be scrolled independently in horizontal and vertical directions and composited on one another, simulating a multiplane camera.

The Free Encyclopedia

Well, we only need to verify the validity of this statement, right?

To do this

  1. we sequentially assigned the Motion Path animation from right to left to both layers: for foreground and background,
    assigned the motion path animation
  2. sequentially for both layers, we set the same animation duration to 4 seconds,
  3. but set the path length for the foreground more and less for the background. Thus, we made the foreground move faster and the background slower.

Please see the video at the top of this article again. There is exactly what we got as a result.