Raytracing Anamorphic Images

A long time ago, I stumbled upon a couple of strikingly odd images on Jim Arvo’s web site, which are apparently called “anamorphic”. The idea behind an anamorphic image, is that it’s distorted in such a way, that its true shape can be seen only when viewed in a particular manner. In the case of these images, you’re supposed to print the image and place a highly reflective cylindrical object, such as a chrome pipe, at a specific marked location in order to see the geometric shapes correctly.

I kept the images back then, with the purpose of either finding an appropriate cylindrical object, or raytracing them to see what they look like, but for some reason I’ve forgotten all about them until I accidentally found them again yesterday, in a dusty corner of my filesystem.

So I decided to hack some code to add perfect (x^2 + y^2 = r^2) cylinder primitives to my raytracer and do a couple of renderings with those images texture-mapped onto a ground quad (I could just do the same thing with another raytracer such as pov-ray but where’s the fun in that?).

So anyway here are the anamorphic images along with the renderings (click on the images for the full rendering):

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