Optical Illusions That Will Explode Your Mind
Optical illusions give us an eye-opening glimpse into the workings of the brain. Colour and perspective can trick us into seeing things that aren’t actually there. Indeed, many animals and insects – such as butterflies and chameleons – use optical illusions to hide from their predators. However, they don’t just exist in nature. Humans have harnessed their brain-bending powers, using them in everything from art to advertising campaigns. Trick your brain with these incredible optical illusions.
We begin the list with one of the most famous optical illusions ever created. Despite appearances, these dots are actually white.
British artist Julian Cheever created this incredibly realistic scene from chalk. He specialises in a technique known as anamorphosis, which makes flat images appear in 3D when viewed from a certain angle.
Kurt Wenner is another chalk artist. His amazing street art always draws a crowd – this horse and carriage is bursting out of a pavement in Istanbul, Turkey.
Multi-storey car parks can be confusing places, and many people hate using them. The designers of this car park have tried to make life easier for drivers. Thanks to the trick of perspective, there’s no missing the way out – the word “DOWN” is emblazoned across the wall.
Some artists use the body as their canvas. This incredible body art is a real “trick of the eye” – the teeth are the only give-away that all is not what it seems.
Liu Bolin is another body artist. His uncanny colour-matching skills render his subjects almost invisible. Can you spot the man hidden in this picture?
At first glance, this laptop appears to be missing a screen. However, you’d have trouble putting your hand through the gap – the wall behind the computer is actually a carefully-taken photograph, set as the desktop background.
How many different colours can you see in this picture? Chances are you’ll say 4 – pink, orange, blue and green. Take a closer look – the green and blue lines are actually the same colour!
The brain doesn’t just get confused between blue and green. Squares A and B are actually the same shade. Don’t believe it? Cover up the surrounding squares, and be amazed.
Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt pan in the world. No trip here would be complete without a novelty photo shoot, taking advantage of the flat, featureless landscape.
You may need to look at this photograph twice. The platform isn’t floating several feet above the sand – the shadow actually belongs to a flag, which is behind the photographer.
This happy couple may regret hiring a cheap photographer for their wedding. This unfortunate pose makes the bridesmaids look far shorter than they actually are.
Optical illusions are often created to amuse and entertain. However, they occasionally carry a serious message, like this chilling campaign for Watch Around Water. Careful shadowing makes this image of an underwater child look ultra-realistic, reminding people to keep an eye on their children at the swimming pool.
Here’s another example of an optical illusion being used to carry an important warning. Through the use of perspective, drivers approaching this spot briefly see a young child appear in the road. It reminds people to concentrate on the road ahead, as hazards can appear in the blink of an eye.
This mind-bending illusion is mesmerising. These circles aren’t actually moving – but try telling your brain that! Keeping your eyes fixed on one spot is almost impossible.
A similar effect is used on this alcohol awareness poster. A funny trick of the eye is used to carry a hard-hitting message – alcohol can seriously affect your ability to drive.
Despite appearances, the centre circles in these two drawings are exactly the same size.
The intense African sun can create some amazing optical illusions. This may seem like an abstract drawing, but look again – this is actually a photograph of a herd of zebra, taken from above.
These wooden blocks have been placed very precisely. When a light shines on them from the right angle, they cast the shadow of a walking person.
Ramon Bruin is primarily an airbrush artist. However, he also creates incredible 3D optical illusions, using only charcoal and paper. This amazing picture seems to jump out from the page.
Laurent Laveder has taken hundreds of unusual moon photographs. This cute image, showing the moon being pushed along in a wheelbarrow, is one of his best.
The human brain is trained to recognise faces and body parts in inanimate objects. This staring eye is actually a draining sink.
Edgar Mueller is another famous street chalk artist. Here, a passer-by balances precariously on the edge of a precipice, painted on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
The narrow confines of a corridor can be used to create some unusual visual effects. Here, strange red circles appear to float in the air.
This incredible art installation gives a 2D surface unusual depth, giving the viewer a glimpse into an imagined, futuristic city.
This clever painting shows a bearded man, looking off into the distance. Look closer and you’ll see two smaller figures – a sitting man, and a walking, blue-cloaked woman.
Charles Allan Gilbert, an American artist, created one of the most famous memento mori of all time. Titled All is Vanity, this drawing of a woman looking into a mirror also depicts the chilling impression of a skull.
You might need a ruler for this illusion. The horizontal lines are all perfectly straight, but the juxtaposition of the black and white squares make them appear angled.
The face of Jesus has been spotted everywhere from marble tiles to slices of toast. This artist has incorporated two images of Christ in this picture – look closely and you’ll see Jesus traveling through Jerusalem on a donkey.
Stare at this black light bulb for at least 30 seconds before looking away. You’ll see a glowing white light bulb in your vision – even when you close your eyes.