15 Mind Bending Optical Illusion Pictures
For centuries people have been puzzled by optical illusions. What our eyes see often doesn’t compute with our brain. This causes us to visualize things that aren’t real. Artists and performers have taken these ideas and gone one step further, creating optical illusion pictures. These images are often mind bending and make you think you are seeing something that’s not actually there.
Recently images have cropped up on social media that look like one thing but are in fact something else. These have spread like wildfire on the internet. People can’t believe what they are seeing. As well as these confusing optical illusion pictures, there are dozens of artworks created to baffle the brain.
We’ve gathered together 15 of the most head-scratching optical illusion pictures that will leave you dazed and confused. We’ve also added a brief explainer about each image so you understand what you’re looking at.
1. Shake Your Head To See the Animal
While liable to give you a headache from shaking your head, this optical illusion is impressive. Hidden in this image of horizontal black and white lines is an animal. To see the hidden animal, all you need to do is move your head back and forth. This cool optical illusion was posted to Twitter by Dr. Michelle Dickinson. It’s a neat illusion that will mess with your visual system.
2. Hidden Skull
This famous painting by German artist Hans Holbein the Younger is known as the Ambassador. Completed in 1533, this striking painting now resides in the National Museum in London, UK. While it looks pretty normal at first glance, closer inspection reveals a hidden skull at the bottom of the painting. This optical illusion is known as an anamorphosis, which is an optical illusion that can only be viewed from a certain angle.
3. Two Shades, One Color
This black and white photo of an old house is an example of simultaneous brightness contrast. Despite the two bricks appearing to be different colors, they are in fact the same color. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been conducting experiments on why this is the case. Their research paper suggests the brightness of each stone is formed via the perception of our eyes. So while it appears to be an illusion, it is actually just the way our eyes see the image.
4. Rabbit or Raven?
This image caused quite the outrage on the internet with people unable to process what they were seeing. Was it a rabbit or a raven? This is a modern example of the classic rabbit or duck illusion from the 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter, a German funny mag. Oh yeah, just in case you can’t tell what it is you’re looking at, it’s a raven.
5. Perception Is Everything
How awesome is this image? The picture is of an ant close up on a red solo cup as the sun is setting. But when the picture was taken, a helicopter was in the background. Because of the perception, it looks like the chopper is the same size as the ant. This optical illusion wasn’t planned but is still a good visual.
6. Squares or Circles
When you first look at this drawing, you no doubt see squares. Look a little more intently and you will see that it’s actually circles that make up the squares you see. Mind blowing.
7. Casa Ceramica Wonderland Floor
This illusion will have your human brain ticking away. The creation of UK tile company Casa Ceramica, this wonky walkway is the entrance to their Manchester showroom. At first glance, it appears that the floor is concave on one side, but this is just an optical illusion. The walkway is made from 400 tiles that make it look like there is a dent in the floor. Incredibly, if you look at the walkway from the opposite end, it appears normal.
8. What Color Are These Circles?
Here’s another optical illusion based on color and perspective and what the eyes really see. It looks like there are four different colors used for the circles, when in fact they are the same color. This image was posted to Twitter by University of Texas professor Dr. David Novick. He calls the image Confetti.
This optical illusion is known as a Munker illusion. This illusion demonstrates how much our perception of color influences other colors we see.
9. Penrose Stairs
This is an example of paradox illusions. First invented by Oscar Reutersvärd in 1937, it is an image of a never-ending staircase. It was later made famous by Lionel Penrose and his son Roger Penrose. Their design is of a staircase that continues to ascend (or descend) in a continuous loop. This is not possible in real life of course, but as you can see from the drawing, that is what your brain detects.
10. Drain Eye
This ambitious image looks like a close-up of an eye at first but is actually a drain emptying. While not as puzzling as some of the optical illusions on this list, it is still an eyebrow-raising picture.
11. Straight Lines
This illustration is a classic example of a Ponzo illusion. This is an illusion where two identical lines seem to have different lengths. There are a number of different theories about this illusion, with the general consensus being it has something to do with the primary visual cortex and how we see things. Look, it’s hard to explain, so just read more here.
12. Man or Woman?
This hilarious optical illusion seems to be a picture of a man leaning over a woman and embracing her. But it’s actually the other way round. It’s only once you notice the heels that your brain starts to reassess the image and you realize who is who.
13. Is That Ben Stiller or Beyonce?
This is a great example of an optical illusion called a hybrid image. It involves combining two images of different frequencies. One has high frequencies and the other low frequencies. The human eye is able to pick up both but at different depths and perceptions. So depending on how you look at this picture depends on what you see. Up close it’s Ben Stiller, further away it’s Beyonce. Impressive.
14. Rotating Circles
Although this appears to be an image of moving circles, it is in fact just a standard image. This is called a peripheral drift illusion, which is when we perceive images to be moving. This is very trippy and we don’t advise looking at this image after having a smoke.
15. Which Way Is This Cat Going
Here’s another image that plays on your perception. Is the cat going up the stairs or down the stairs? There’s no real way of telling. It is up to you to decide what you see.
See more about - 10 Creepy Scary Drawings And Paintings That Will Give You Nightmares