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3D Stereoscopic Vision, Binocular Depth Perception
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How to See 3D
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The Logical Approach to Seeing 3D Pictures
-- Understand Where to Aim Your Eyes --

please note that this page explains how to see 3D pictures without 3d glasses. This is called "free-viewing."

There are three basic ways of looking at 3D pictures with both eyes...

Normally, if you look at or read something on the computer monitor, you aim your eyes directly at the surface of the monitor. You may already have mastered this technique (have you had a lot of practice?!). If you use normal regular ol' viewing to look at 3D images in our 3D Art Gallery, nothing will pop out. You won't see 3D!

With the parallel viewing method (a.k.a. the divergence or Magic Eye method), the lines of sight of your eyes move outward toward parallel and meet in the distance at a point well behind and beyond the image. That's why it's called parallel viewing. When you parallel-view, the muscles inside your eye that control the focusing lens relax and lengthen.
NOTE: there are several parallel-viewing sections in the 3D gallery. All Magic Eye stereograms are set up for parallel-viewing.

Another method for 3D viewing is called cross-viewing or the cross-eyed method. You aim your eyes so that the lines of sight of your eyes cross in front of the image. When you cross-view, the muscles inside your eye that control the focusing lens contract strongly and shorten.
NOTE: The 3D Gallery has some sections designed specifically for cross-viewing. If you cross-view Magic Eye pictures or other images intended for parallel-viewing, shapes that should pop out will look punched in. For example, a Magic Eye stereogram that was designed to have a star popping out in 3D would look like it has a star-shaped hole cut into the background.

If you come across the old side-by-side stereo photograph cards (made to be viewed with a hand-held or table stereoscopes or stereo-opticon), you can use the cross-viewing method to free-view the images. However, this is for advanced free-viewers -- only Olympians of free-viewing need apply!


The Practical Approach to Seeing 3D
-- Try these Step-by-Step Methods --

  1. Parallel and Cross-Viewing: Using the Dots as "Training Wheels"
  2. Parallel-Viewing: Putting Your Nose Into It
  3. Parallel-Viewing: The Reflection Method
  4. Cross-Viewing: The Single Finger Method

The Ticket to Parallel-viewing

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Magic Eye How to See 3D copyright © 1996-2008
by Magic Eye, Inc. and Rachel Cooper, Advocate of Vision Therapy Eye Exercises for Lazy Eye.
All other images and text: copyright © 1996- by Rachel Cooper. All rights reserved.