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I have been interested in doing lithophanes since I first saw them online.  I was sure they would be fairly cool looking but discovered that photos on the Internet do not do them justice.  You have to see one in person to understand how impressive they really are.

A lithophane is essentially a carving based on a photograph.  The software looks at the various light and dark areas of the photo and produces a tool-path which reduces the thickness of a translucent material in areas that are light in color while leaving darker areas thicker.  When lighted from behind, more light passes through the thinner areas and less through the thicker creating a photographic effect.

This is the tool-path preview.  If you click on the image for a larger view you can see that the depth of cut is greatest on the face and ears while the darker areas of the photo such as the eyes and shirt are not cut as deep.

Cutting 3/16-inch thick white Plexiglas using a 1/8-inch ball nose end mill.

The finished carving viewed while lighted from the front.

The same part lighted from behind.