Let’s start with a well-known illusion, which does not fail to amaze me every time I look:
Believe it or not, square A and B are actually the same color!


A lot of people find it hard to believe, but if you open the picture in Photoshop and measure the color values, you will see that it’s true…


Fake 3D Perspectives

Mirror Illusions: This drawing seems to be a (more or less) normal depiction of a shipwreck on an island, but if you put a cylindrical mirror in a certain place, you’ll see Jules Verne portrait… (more of these here)

Impossible 3D Sculptures

These are specially designed shapes, which morph into an impossible structure when seen at a particular viewing angle

Your eyes see one thing, your mind believes another!

These don’t move

Warning : these illusions are so strong that sensitive observers might feel sick. You will understand when you see them full-screen.

The first example is probably the most famous of them all and a favorite in poster stores: Rotating Snakes ! Make sure you click to enlarge.

When watching this picture, you might want to check if your flatscreen is still flat. Maybe it actually IS rippling.

These rotating ladybugs are rather unknown but extremely convincing. You just can’t believe this is not an animation. (Watch fullscreen, bigger is better.)

The last not-….quite-moving one is also a classic but too good to leave it out. Stare at the black dot and move your head back and forth from the screen. The wheels will start turning …

These do move – in strange ways

This little animation is fast becoming very popular – and no wonder: when you first look at the spinning girl, her rotation is probably clockwise. But if you start to concentrate on her shadow instead, suddenly her rotation switches to counter-….clockwise! It may take some time, but the moment it happens, you are going to be genuinely surprised…

This ferris wheel animation is similar to the one above. Look at the left side of the wheel, and it will rotate to the left. Look at the right and it will rotate there. If you play around with it, you can make it turn wherever you want. Try it!

Unique Stereo Pictures can be created using a simple animation effect. This pool animation has only two frames, but looks convincingly three-….dimensional.

Just a point of view

Have a look at this photograph of Neuchatel, Switzerland. How long would it have taken Felice Varini to put the red lines there ? Five minutes, with a pencil and a ruler ?

I don’t know exactly but it would have been much, much longer. You see, the red lines are actually painted on the buildings. He just took buckets of red paint and got into town, as you will see below. This illusion only works from one exact point of view.

Another superb example of Varini’s 3-D work is the Cardiff’s Harbor, where the whole site became a “canvas” for Felice Varini’s shapes, which could be discovered only from a specific viewpoint…

3-D Transformations

Shigeo Fukuda is another great point-of-view artist, “Master of Transformations….”. See for example his “Underground Piano”. It looks like a large pile of junk, but when seen in a mirror just right, it’s a perfect image of a piano.

Here is “Encore” sculpture, which changes into different musicians, depending on your point-of-view. (via Growabrain)

Shadow Sculptures

Again, by Shigeo Fukuda – watch this video to see the shadows transform a pile of junk.

“Shadow sculptures” – see a superb page here

But point-of-view illusions can also happen just by accident. And when they do, the result can be hilarious …


For an interesting case of “cover-up” viewing-angle illusion (and a study of Medieval morals) see this page

Now you see it …

Now a bit of magic – let’s make some stuff disappear. The first illusion is a classic, but keeps baffling me every time. Stare at the black cross in the center. Within seconds, a green ball will appear. And a few seconds after that, the green ball starts eating the purple balls, until there’s nothing left !

This one has no moving parts. Just look at the black cross and see the colored fluff fade away until everything is gray. See how easy your eyes are fooled ?

Speaking about elusive color… This link is simply mind-boggling. Follow the instructions to see the color appear out of black-n-white image of the castle. Click here

Here is a variation of a “shading illusion” – these two cubes are the SAME color!

Illusions in Advertising

Discover darker meaning in this fine example of “hidden image” advertising:

For those with a lot of time on their hands, here is a great image from Mighty Optical Illusions – try to find all 82 Absolut vodka bottles in this drawing:
(click to enlarge)

San Francisco Red Cross awareness ad campaign is slightly shocking, depicting the same street-scape after some kind of cataclysm: (seen here)

A bit nicer locations are shown on the following Club Med ads – with a cute face in each one.

Sometimes there is no need to “enhance” Mother Nature with a Photoshop job: check out this “portrait” of the actual rainforest insect:

We love it when the picture plays with our mind

To achieve different angle, illusion or an unusual effect with only two-….dimensional picture is a challenge many photographers and artists can’t seem to pass by. The three-….dimensional sculptures can increase the “I simply can not believe this is real” effect. But in every occasion we keep asking ourselves how the trick was pulled off, and such mind-games appear to be a part of the magic.

“The House, that Swift Built”

But did you know that some illusions can actually be constructed in real life?

Aldo Cavini Benedetti made the working model of M. C. Escher’s “Ascending and Descending” using a toy “Geomag” constructor set:

The video is almost out-……of-this-world:

The “Impossible Triangle” is also possible to make, see the instructions here – with a printable template from that site, anybody can make it!

Almost real:

Illusions in Art

One certain way to prompt the viewer to look twice in the picture is to create a “topsy-turvy” images, meaningful in both orientations.

Transformations….! –

Hidden figures:
A new meaning for “suggestive” painting –

This “Tree of Faces” is a classic:

Animal “matryoshka”:

Mona Lisa:

This is a screenshot from the movie “Alexander”. An interesting effect, but perhaps not that many people notice:

Impossible geometry

These artists can not revise the foundations of perspective and geometry, but they certainly fool the eye of a viewer:

“The Magic Window” by Istvan Orosz

Paintings by Flemish artist Jos de Mey continue in the “old Belgian masters” traditional style, only they clearly show impossible landscapes:

Other “impossible art” painters:

Great “recursion” effect:

Original creator of “impossible triangles” (1934) – Oscar Reutersv√§rd, Sweden.
Wrap your mind around this geometry:

Dmitry Rakov went even further, creating “impossible alphabet”:

and “impossible labyrinth”:

Here is one interesting puzzle:

If your kid has some trouble assembling the toy, maybe he’s got instructions like this:

Snakes on a… thing:

Sometimes the confusing effect is all-too-easily achieved:

You can use money bills, or magazines:

Illusions in Advertising:

Not an optical illusion, but a good test of your “attention to detail”:

How many “F”s are in this sentence?


Scroll down for answer… in the meantime, see if you can spot anything wrong with this image:

There are six F’s in the sentence. There is no catch. Many people forget the F in “OF”, and that word appears three times in the sentence. The human brain tends to see them as V’s and not F’s! If you spotted four, five, or even all six, well you beat the average!

Life imitates illusion

Do you remember M. C. Escher’s “impossible staircases”?

well, somebody found the similar structure somewhere in Russia:


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