anamorphic makeybot

Coloring books are enjoying a big resurgence, especially among adults. Here’s a fun twist on coloring that uses anamorphic art. (Anamorphic means “without shape.”) Color in the unrecognizable mystery shape, then view it as a reflection in a curved mirror: You’ll see the image magically restored!

Making anamorphic drawings the traditional way involves mechanically distorting an image by transferring grid points from the original image onto a second, distorted grid, then drawing the lines to connect the points. Difficult and tedious! But the power of image editing software makes it a breeze. Draw or scan your image in Photoshop or GIMP, and place it on the bottom half of the canvas. Use Transform→Flip Vertical to make the image upside down and backward. Then use Filter→Distort→Polar Coordinates to instantly create the distortion.

aanamorph art

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Now roll a piece of mirrored mylar into a tube and place it beside your distorted image. Presto-change-o: Your original undistorted drawing appears like magic in the reflection! Color in your anamorphic art with crayons or markers.

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Here’s a sample image  already distorted for you to color and view. Just place your mylar tube on the circle as shown.

Makey bot magnifying glass .distortedI recently saw this cool piece at a show of prints by Chuck Close: an anamorphic version of a self-portrait. Distorted art viewed in a mirrored cylinder!