An optical illusion is an image or animation that tricks our brains into seeing things differently than what they really are. Many of them use the way our brains are wired to trick us into seeing non-existent motion, or even color changes that are not real. Optical illusions are fun for everyone, so we decided to gather up 15 of our favorites!
Pigeon Neck Illusion
When rectangles (or birds) travel in front of stripes, our brains see a bit of reverse motion, similar to the way a pigeon walks. If you focus in, the ‘pigeon walk’ isn’t as noticeable, but it gets stronger when you look from a distance.
This illusion works on the basis of color perception. As you can see, both rectangles are identical— however, when you change the context of the rectangle, they begin to look much different…
Now, look what happens when you change the background of both rectangles!
The Day it Rained on Lowry
A painting by L.S. Lowry is used as the backdrop of this illusion. When the designers “make it rain” on Lowry, the figures appear to be shuffling through the streets. In reality, they’re going backward and forwards— but because our brains tend to perceive the forward movements easier, we start to see them shuffling along.
The lady’s spinning— so what? Well, what makes the spinning lady fun is that not everyone sees her spinning in the same direction. Some people even see her stop spinning suddenly, and start turning in the other direction! Some people say this illusion can tell you which side of the brain you use more, but that’s just not true— it’s just fun!
This illusion uses color perception. In the picture below, the colors DO NOT change at all— but the shifting of the lines sure makes them look different!
Movement Illusions Using Vertical Slips
Honestly, I tried to research how this one works, but I can’t really wrap my head around it. The most I understand is that the brain uses 2 relative objects in order to process motion…. and somehow, we get this.
A Turn in the Road
Can you pick which road is different? If you’re anything like me, you definitely picked the third one— and if you’re anything like me, you were definitely wrong.
Metamers are objects that are different but look the same, while anti-metamers are the same but look different. By using metamers AND anti-metamers Kimberley Orsten and James Pomerantz have definitely succeeded in messing with our brains.
Rubiks Cube Illusion
This illusion works a lot like the Splitting Colors one. While the middle square of the top and front look like they are orange and brown, when you take away the context, they’re actually identical!
Hybrid Motion and the Integration of Motion Elements
This one has a super long name, but the concept is simple: when you’re close to the screen the rectangles look like they’re moving to the left. When you’re further, they move to the right.
In all actuality? Not moving at all.
Age is All in Your Head
Basically, by tilting the photo back and forth (and changing the vanishing points of the boy’s face), you perceive him as looking either younger or older. In the “older” photo, the top of the head is narrowed and the bottom expands; the opposite happens in the young photo.
This one is super simple. Basically, the falling snow looks like it falls much faster when “blinds” are placed over it.
The Dalesmen Singers Illusion
With each “pulse” the brightness of the letters changes, making them appear as if they are moving, but, as I’m sure as you’ve probably realized by now— they are not moving at all.
Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion
This one is sooo weird. Alright, so this one is a bit complicated, but Illusion of the Year explains it by saying, “The direct views of the objects and their mirror images generate quite different interpretations of the 3D shapes.
Whatever the reasoning— it’s cool as Hell.
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