Digital photoelasticity is a whole field experimental technique which can analyze both 2-D and 3-D models. In this paper, stress frozen 3-D models are sliced mechanically and the whole field principal stress differences (Isochromatics) and principal stress directions (Isoclinics) are evaluated by capturing only five images using the standard optical arrangements of a conventional polariscope. The wrapped isoclinic values obtained by processing the first four colour polarization stepped images in the range -π/4 to +π/4 are unwrapped using adaptive quality guided phase unwrapping algorithm to get isoclinics in the range of -π/2 to +π/2. The total fringe order is evaluated by three fringe photoelasticity or RGB photoelasticity with its latest developments like colour adaptation combined with refined three fringe photoelasticity. The methodology is validated for two slices cut from aero-structural components. © 2010 SPIE.