The 3D Street Art Myth

What street artist forget to tell you

Large-scale 3D street-art seems is stunning and unreal? Unfortunately yes. You cannot see them properly with your own eyes.

Whenever we stumble upon photos of so called street art or 3d chalk drawings on the web we feel like we're seeing something that is both incredibly stunning and kind of - unreal.

Unreal? Unfortunately yes. Large format 3D chalk drawings cannot be perceived by a human observer on the same ground level. They are meant for the camera only.

Let's hear an independent 3d street graphic artist talk about the limitations of traditional 3D street art in the video.

And afterwards, let Shapeshifter Media provide you with solutions to deal with those limitations.

Criteria for successful floor designs

We love painted 3D street art and we admire the talent and creativity of the artists.

Yet, for a 3D design on the floor or any other surface to become a successful commercial application, Shapeshifter Media makes sure that the common limitations of street-art are overcome and the following criteria are met :

  • must actually be visible for all target audiences and certainly the human eye
  • must be applicable in reasonable or even critical time frames
  • must work on all surfaces and in all weather conditions
  • must not force you to restrict access to the used surface area
  • must be accessible without destroying the artwork
  • must be removable residue-free at any time
  • should be 100% reproducible for use at multiple sites
  • should be movable and re-usable (paramount for road events)

You can't ever see this with your own eyes.

Street art today

Made by looking through the camera lens

Today's 3d street art is created by manually setting up an initial outline for the artwork on the floor at a single site.

This requires either a whole team of people of which one person would constantly look through the camera and instruct the others on how to align the outlines to the camera view - or a constant going back and forth for an individual artist. The outline is then filled with details which once again, must strictly be aligned to the the camera lens.

The overall process from start to finish:

  • takes several days of manual labour for a single site
  • must be carried out in dry weather conditions (hope, hope)
  • access to the area must be fully restricted at all times

Bad news - we have two eyes

A photo camera has one single lens - it can only see in 2D. No stereoscopic information can be captured with a standard photo.

A human observer on the other hand is looking at the 3d street art with his two eyes, thus seeing the street and the environment in a stereoscopic manner.

With its single lens, the camera will "flatten out" whatever it captures and puts everything on a two-dimensional plane, which is then seen on a two-dimensional photo print or - a two-dimensional and evenly backlit computer screen. Everything seems to appear right.

Our eyes in contrary can only and will always focus on a certain limited area of whatever is front of us and give us a three-dimensional impression of our surroundings unless, we close one eye.

As a result, people standing on the same ground level on which a large 3d chalk drawing is painted or any large-scale 3D floor image is placed will not see the dramatic 3D effect of common street art, the way it´s presented through a photograph with a special lens, at all.


Shapeshifter Media provides 3D floor applications for all scenarios that provide the desired 3D effect for the human eye AND of course, a camera.

  1. 3D street art landscapes for both the camera and the human eye
  2. For very large floor areas that should be fully covered with 3D effects, we provide special 3D scenes that are precisely calculated with our own software, so both the human eye and any camera can fully enjoy the 3D imagery.

  3. 3D event floor graphics
  4. A special mode in our software allows for the creation of event-specific 3D floor scenes that are perfect for photo shootings and can cover multiple surfaces at the same time, thus enabling giant 3D scenes even in narrow spaces.

  5. Eye-friendly 3D FloorPosters
  6. All of our 3D FloorPosters for advertising, signage and safety measures are calculated to perfectly match the human eye, thus giving you the expected 3D look at all times.

  7. Professional solutions and examples for all scenarios
  8. See how our clients successfully use our 3D FloorPosters with over 100 examples in our 3d floor gallery

Comparison chart

Classic Street Art Shapeshifter
3D landscapes
3D event graphics
3D FloorPosters
applicable indoors by restricting access to the entire area
applicable outdoors only in dry weather conditions and by
restricting access to the entire area
applicable on all surfaces
applicable in small spaces
observers can follow
creation of image
installation staff artist team anyone anyone anyone
time for installation several days per site a few minutes a few minutes a few minutes
usable in all weather conditions
walkable shoes will rub off paint
removable must scrub floor and clean off residue instantly instantly instantly
3D look for camera
3D look for human eye
similar multi-site use
additional content
(branding, website, qr-code etc.)

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