More Real Life Optical Illusions Your Brain Will Trip Out On

You’ve been enjoying gawking at all these distorted images that make your brain play tricks on you, and we love you for it! Why stop the fun? These fun visuals are all products of the wonderments of science! Whether it’s bending light, odd angles, or games with perspective and distance, these images are not exactly what the eye sees.
Mike Pedley
Mike Pedley
The brain is a funny thing, but we know that already. So if you’re interested in seeing our second installment of real-life optical illusions, then keep reading!

Big Hand Baby

Honestly, this one has us stumped. We know WHAT we’re looking at – the mom’s hand is holding onto the baby’s leg, and the baby’s sleeve makes it look like it’s actually the baby’s hand. What we don’t know is HOW.

If that’s the baby’s sleeve, where is the baby’s hand? It appears that the sleeve isn’t empty. There’s an arm in there. So…where is the baby’s hand? After enough look, we figured it out – but can you? This one is sneaky.

Where is the Curve From?

Neither the wire nor the shadow itself are anything special if taken on their own. Together, however, we’re left trying to figure it out. With a curl in the shadow but none in the cord, it’s a mystery as to what we’re seeing.


We’re sure you can figure it out, but here’s the solution: the light that is casting the shadow is coming from above and to the right of the cord, and the wire’s gentle curve, if seen from the right angle, creates a curve. It’s not as tight as the shadow is trying to demonstrate, but it’s still there.

The Pipe of Eternity

There’s nothing strange about what this picture is showing us, but it’s fun to imagine that both ends really are connected to the ground. Why would a pipe rise up out of the ground just to dive right back in? We don’t have the answers.


This picture is fun since it’s the kind of thing you can glance at and have no idea what you’re looking at – since it looks like it comes from the distance, it’s hard to understand. Then again, the shadow gives it away immediately.

The Miraculous Floating Dad

If you’re a dad, taking a picture with the entire family smiling and happy when out on a trip warms the heart like nothing else. This dad might not be smiling, but he is floating.


That or he has legs that are so skinny they become two-dimensional. Such is the power of a fully-charged dad.

Just Like When You Were a Kid

There’s nothing like waking up and finding piles of fresh snow outside. When you were a kid, it meant a snow day, sledding, making snowmen, and then cuddling inside under heavy blankets with cocoa. This picture brings us back to those halcyon days of just being able to have fun.


No, clearly, this man isn’t really playing with cars, but even if it only took a second for your brain to realize the truth, you thought that’s what was happening. The best part about this picture is it took a lot of coordination – the snow, the cars, the guy leaning out the window, and the person taking the picture. It all has to work.

What is the Water Bottle For?

At first, this is just a picture of a few cool, classy cars sitting in the middle of the street. And if you only looked at the first picture, that’s exactly what they would be. It’s only the second picture that reveals the truth: the cars are tiny, and the camera is pressed right up against them to get them lined up with the houses across the street.

This cool picture is assisted by a little bit of sepia-tone (see how the background of the first picture is a little more yellowed) to give it a classic feel. But what is the spray bottle for?

Just Give it a Spin

For a lot of people, Rubix Cubes are puzzles that will forever stay unsolved. But, if you have the skills to complete the cube, you probably reached for the screen to grab it and make it look perfect. Of course, if you had grabbed it, you would have found out that the Rubix Cube, and the piece of paper it’s sitting on, are one single sheet.

The 3D design is an effect thanks to the stretched-out length of the paper, which you can easily see on the bottom image. From any other angle, it’s easy for our brains to see that the image is two-dimensional, but when looking at it from a specific direction, we get tricked.

Brings New Meaning to “Touchscreen”

Let’s hear your guesses for how they accomplished this one. Not only is there the calculator from the computer in front of the hand, but as a small bonus, the bookshelf behind the computer is the computer’s wallpaper. Nice touch.

Mike Pedley

Here’s our official guess: The “calculator” is just a piece of paper like a sticky note that has been meticulously designed to look like it’s part of the computer. It would require an immense amount of work making it look perfect, but that’s all it would take. No camera tricks needed, just great hand control. But that’s just one explanation – there are a dozen others.

Playing on These Islands Means Something Else

If you’re part of the band, you might want to just reach out and grab that violin or upright bass and start playing, but you’ll need a boat.

These two islands – when viewed from this angle, at this distance, and with the perfect water conditions to create a mirror, create a stringed instrument, but think of how many different ways you could see these two islands and never know they could come together to make such a cool picture. If viewed at almost any other time of the day or from any other angle, they would be nothing special.

There’s Soap in Your Eye

Look deep into the iris, and you might discover there is something looking back. Particularly water and soap and maybe some little bits of food, too. This is a sink that has created the perfect configuration of bubbles around the drain to give it an eye shape.

The metal bottom of the sink creates the whites, the edge of the drain makes for a perfect iris, and the swirling water at the center is the pupil. The big bubble at the top kind of looks like a nice, long lash. How long must it have taken for the photographer to make such a perfect setup? Either that or they’re lightning-quick with the camera.

A Confusing Farewell

These two friends are saying goodbye, or maybe hello, but if you follow their legs, you’re going to get a little twisted. Just like how these people appear to be. We don’t know if they’re wearing each others’ pants, or the clothes are two-toned, or what.


It looks like both of their hips are rotated a hundred and eighty degrees. And the wrong skin color. Your guess is as good as ours for how this picture was achieved. But even if we don’t know how it happened, we can at least appreciate the true friendship that this picture is showing us.

The Mysterious Floating Faucet

Where is the water coming from? How is the faucet staying up? Well, the answer for both questions is the same – hidden inside the flow of water that is coming out of the spout is a pipe that suspends the installation and provides water. This fun art piece is a classic picture subject, and we’re sure you can see why.

Alamy Stock Photo

It looks like something out of a science-fiction film. But this pipe isn’t condensing water out of thin air; it’s just using the water that is already in the pool under it. You can even make your own small version if you’re crafty enough. There are kits you can use, too.

World’s Biggest Seagull

A lot of these images are the result of being in the right place, at the right time, and having your camera out. Most likely, the person behind this photo just wanted to snap a pic of a seagull that wandered close, and he or she then saw the man walking in the background.


The man is at the bottom of a set of stairs or at the bottom of a drop, while the seagull is at the top. The camera managed to focus on both, even though the seagull is a bit hazy compared to the man. Likely the photographer didn’t want to worry about getting things perfect since there was a good chance the seagull would just fly away.

The Floor That Falls

This pattern is quite trippy, but it really only affects you if you’re looking from above, as this picture is. The pattern narrows and shrinks as it gets closer to the middle, which makes it look like it’s drawing away from us, but it’s all just classy tiles set on the floor.


The two men on the left side of the image have no fear since they’re just having a chat in the middle of the room. Though it does look like they should be flying toward the bottom of whatever area we’re looking at. No matter how long it takes your brain, eventually, it will figure out it’s a flat surface.

Attack of the Giant Grasshoppers!

This picture could very well be ripped from one of those classic B movies that have giant irradiated insects stomping through downtown and wreaking all sorts of havoc. The look is perfect, and the big bug really does appear to be lifting a leg to smash a car.

In reality, the bug is hanging on for dear life as it rides the car’s windshield to its new destination, wherever that might be. If you want to try and recreate this look, mess around with the focus setting on your camera, and you might be able to get a promotional image for a fun monster movie of your own.

Flee, Raccoons!

These little trash pandas are running away from what might turn into a dangerous rock slide – or are they loitering near a glassy pond, looking up at the camera instead of down? Flip your perspective a bit, and you’ll figure out the truth.


The rock is sitting quietly in a small body of water that has such a pristine, flat surface that it’s able to reflect the clouds above without a single distortion. We know this is kind of a weird thing to say, but if you’ve spent enough time staring at clouds, the ones we see in this picture seem upside-down.

The Mysterious Floating Island

You might be thinking that this picture underwent a little bit of photoshop design to trick you, but it’s not the case. No, the island on the left side of the picture isn’t floating – it’s still settled on the water just as proper islands should be.

Large bodies of water create a haze with water vapor, steam, or reflections, which might be coming into play here. Follow the dark line that runs under the island to the right, and you’ll see that the dark band is just another section of the water. There’s a boat and a second island that is resting on top of it. It just so happens to merge perfectly with the island in the background.

Aliens in the Clouds

You might think this is a still from the next aliens attack disaster movie that Hollywood has been creating, but it’s a real picture.

We’re sure there is some sort of nerdy atmospheric explanation for how a cloud can roll into that sort, with all those flattened edges and the rounded middle shape, but we don’t know it. We do know that it looks eerily like a classic Unidentified Flying Object – a UFO. This little British suburb might have some abductions soon.

It’s a Symbiotic Relationship

This appears to be the kind of shark and remora relationship that you hear about sometimes. The smaller fish hanging on and getting a free ride and a snack while the shark keeps its skin cleaned.


As the helicopter sits in the foreground, the jet fighter takes off behind it at the perfect angle and size to make it look like it’s balanced on the ‘copter’s rotor. In reality, the plane (we’re not going to try and guess what kind it is) is quite a bit larger than the helicopter. Getting things in the right position and size can create something entirely different, so keep your eyes open.

Fishing in the Sky

That huge party or outdoor concert is a party to something that has rarely been seen: a sky full of fishing boats and pleasure craft. There seems to be no fear there, even though at any moment, the boats could come tumbling down on top of them.


Or not, since they’re just floating on water. Thanks to the height and angle of the camera, the color of the water, and the light conditions, it really looks like the boats are floating. Past the understanding that boats can’t fly, take a closer look, and you’ll start to see small ripples in the water around the boats.

Is This an Unfair Advantage?

There are some cut-ups out there who say that hockey is a bunch of fights that sometimes involve a puck. Just ask your dad. These two players are getting into a bit of extra-curricular activities, but one of them seems to be invisible, which makes landing a haymaker a lot tougher.

We don’t have a fully perfect explanation for how this one worked out. What likely happened is the player in red ducked his head just as the player in white clocked him on the helmet, which popped the helmet off. A lucky photographer captured the perfect moment.

The Woman Trapped in Ice

There is something that every single human has called “face pareidolia,” which is basically a trait that lets us see faces in things that aren’t faces. Rocks, knots of wood, shadows, toast – it happens everywhere.

For this picture, most people will see a woman who is crying a long waterfall thanks to holes and divots in the ice that look like eyes, a set of lips, and even a nose. If the photographer had stepped a few meters to the left or right, the trick would have been ruined, but at just the right angle, this glacier seems to be in mourning.

Finally, a Clear Picture of Bigfoot

If this was real, that would be one hefty bill to fix all the damage to that little car done by this giant shoe. Whether we’re getting a perfect perspective once again, or these are two images that have been cut together, we’re pretty sure that there isn’t actually a huge tennis shoe and jeans-wearing giant stomping around, bringing its full weight down on a poor, unsuspecting sedan. R…right?

Please tell us that isn’t the case. We just bought a new car and really don’t want this shoe to smash it to bits.

How’s it Going in There

A young giraffe looks on as its mother does a quick flight inspection from the verdant fields of the Savannah. There’s no escaping the watchful eyes of inspector Giraffe. Yes, once again, our old friend forced perspective has come into play.

With the young giraffe’s head twisted around to take a look at the flying vehicle, it’s only natural for the adult giraffe to follow suit, granting us this picture. We hope everything is in order aboard the plane because giraffes can gallop at a top speed of thirty-seven miles per hour and sustain thirty-one miles per hour for several miles.

The Longest Arm in the World

A second look at this picture, and you’ll see the truth, that the girl on the left has her arm around her friend, but the first time you look, you’re sure to think that the man behind them is reaching out to lay a palm on her shoulder.

It just took lining things up properly to achieve this picture, but who knows if it was intentional or not. There are plenty of pictures taken every day, and all of them have an opportunity to turn into an illusion like this one accidentally, but this one looks so perfect it’s hard for us to say it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

It Needs a Relocation

The Eiffel Tower really isn’t all that large. Small enough for a crane to pick it up and plop it somewhere else so the lawn can be taken care of a little bit.

No, we’re kidding – while the Eiffel Tower is a little smaller than a lot of people think it is, it’s still a thousand feet tall at the tip. Putting a crane anywhere within visual distance of the Eiffel Tower is going to create this fun shot at the right location. Paris’s iconic landmark isn’t going anywhere, don’t worry.

Who Could She Be?

This isn’t a photo negative, but it kinda looks like one. Stare at those dots on her nose for about ten seconds and then turn to a light and blink rapidly. Well, hello there! We’re not sure exactly who the woman is, but she does look familiar. Zoe Saldana, perhaps? Hard to tell.

The trick here is elements in your eyes (cones and rods) getting tired. They each understand specific colors, and they can become fatigued from uninterrupted exposure – this has probably happened to you in real life unintentionally. They over-correct, and then when you reverse the background from dark to light, you get the real image.

Three Parked Cars?

Aside from the weird motion blur, we just see three identical cars that go from smallest to biggest, right? Wrong, friend. You see, the cars are all the same size. You may scoff, you may laugh, but if you were to place them all in a row at the bottom of the image, they would all have the exact same height.

The trick here is the apparent slope of the road they’re on, which makes us think the bigger cars are farther away, and thus naturally larger if our brains see them as the same size. In real life, maybe, but in the image, they’re copies.

Those Tricky Grays

There is something about the color gray that can trick up our brains. In this picture, the tiles labeled “A” and “B” are actually the same color.


The relative darkness of the tiles around the “B” tile trick us into thinking it’s a lighter color, but if you were to isolate the small sections, you’d see they’re the same shade. Our brains are smart enough to understand shadow and light, but we can still be tricked. We wonder if this works with other colors or if it’s only gray that will trip us up.

One of the Classics

If you’re a fan of optical illusions, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already seen this one. If you use your finger to cover up the gap between the two square tiles, you’ll discover that the colors of what remains are the same.


Since it appears that light is shining on the upper segment, and the lower segment is in shadow, we think that the upper is naturally darker, and the lower is naturally lighter. But, as we can see, they are the same exact color.

It Doesn’t Matter How Much You Tilt Your Head

We know what you’re thinking: two pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What could be the trick here? Something hiding among the columns? No, take another look. A long look. There aren’t two different pictures here – they’re the same picture.


The same exact picture. They’re oriented the same, and neither of them is tilted. But how? Surely the one on the right is tilted farther? After careful inspection, no, it isn’t. Our best guess is the picture on the left creates a new “starting point” for your vision of the one on the right, so it appears to tilt farther.

Lean Back to See the King

If your face is pressed close to your screen for this image, you might not see anything very interesting. It’s just a bunch of dots! Lean back from whatever screen you’re using, however, and a face starts to take shape, just by varying the size of the dots that make up the image – smaller dots for empty space and bigger dots for the area.


It’s hard to miss the picture that they create, and we’re sure you’re humming your favorite Jackson song, just like we are.

Just Three Normal Women

All three of these women look plenty attractive when viewing this picture upside-down. Yet flip your phone around or twist your head on your neck into a weird position to get a better look at the ladies, and you’ll see that none of them look natural. How can this be?


In the original picture, their features are actually right-side-up – so when we see them, we think, yeah, they look fine. Flipped around, however, we see that their mouths, eyes, and maybe even their noses aren’t right. Sometimes, our eyes just aren’t to be trusted.

Just an Average Brick Wall?

At first glance, this picture appears to be nothing more than a snapshot of a section of a brick wall. But if you look at it long enough, you might see that a small gray area the size of ash on the tip of a cigar is strangely out of place between two bricks.


Stare at it long enough, and you will see the entire cigar. It pops out at you and will not return to appearing to be a shadow between the bricks, no matter how long you gaze at it. If you’re still not seeing it, here’s the spoiler: the cigar is stuck in the bricks as if the brick wall is smoking it. No? Don’t worry. It took me two days too!


It’s either a hairless tarantula or a spider species I’ve yet to come across. Oh, whew. It’s just his girlfriend’s hair clip.


Did she leave it like that on purpose? And does he have arachnophobia?  Looking for more optical illusions? Check out The New Book of Optical Illusions by Georg Rüschemeyer. It contains over 150 examples of optical illusions with explanations that reveal the science behind the phenomenon. Optical illusions aren’t just found in leisure magazines or optometry textbooks. The world is full of visual trickery. Color, shape, perspective, and shadow can easily confuse our brains and make us question our physical reality.

Mind-Bending Bars

I know it looks like the bars on this railing have 3D proportions, as if they curve out in a rounded pattern, but it’s not so. How can this be?


This is another example of distorting illusions, as is the case with the Café Wall. It’s so tricky it’s almost impossible to see the blue metal bars in their actual shape. All the bars line up to make a regular, flat railing. Some bars are straight, and some are curved. But the curved bars line up in rows as flat as the rest. It’s a geometrical puzzle!

Did a Tree Crash into This Brick Building?

It looks like it could be a puzzle. Perhaps green and brown bricks could fill it in?


Actually, this wall is not missing any bricks at all. Though it looks like bricks have been removed to create the tree image, that was not the creative’s method. A clever street artist used shading to design the pattern. It’s a normal brick wall beautified by ingenuity.

Oil Vs. Water

Here we have what seems to be a disappearing glass rod. It’s clearly visible entering the glass, but when it goes through the oil segment, it looks invisible. At the bottom section, which is made up of water, it’s visible again.


Why does the glass rod disappear? Well, first of all, scientists say that light slows down as it enters the glass. It also slows down as it enters the oil. The other factor is the glass rod. The refractive index of the glass rod is the same as the oil. So, the available light passing through the rod and the oil cancel each other out, so to speak, erasing the boundaries and making the outline of the rod seem invisible.

Peanuts Road

As you approach this crosswalk, you might find yourself slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting Charlie Brown or Snoopy. Or maybe it’s Woodstock you notice first. Of course, Marcie is included in the gang, and you wouldn’t want to hit her either. (And then there’s Lucy, but she’s kind of mean anyway.)


The crosswalk painting not only serves as adorable city street décor but also as a warning for cars to slow down for pedestrians. The 3D illusion falls apart when viewed from the sidewalk, becoming a normal 2D drawing. This particular work of art was pictured in Santa Rosa outside of an ice cream parlor.

She’s Wearing no Pants!

Wait a minute. Where are her legs? Did she forget to disengage her invisibility power? And why would she stay half-visible?


Supernatural phenomena don’t usually happen in the light of day. See if you can figure this one out without Googling the answer.

A Movie Studio Building Façade?

This is the flattest building I have ever seen. It sticks into the air like a lost section of a 100-foot-high concrete wall. It looks like it’s the office building of someone from an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s one confounding image.


The truth is, the building is a 3D structure with three sides. At another angle, you would see that it is a triangular building.

Heavenly Day

How this image is not a painting by French artist, René Magritte is beyond me. It’s divinely enchanting, mysteriously lovely, and it questions reality. That is a dock, and it is floating in the sky. The peaceful grassy bank is an ideal place to spend the day.


But truly, what a lake! It reflects the sky just like a mirror. It’s prettier than life.

Hall of Confusion

Anyone susceptible to motion sickness may want to steer clear of this hallway! The walls appear to be curving in and bending out. It looks like the walls are draped with a fabric that has a lined pattern. But none of this is true.


What you are looking at is an installment from an artist’s exhibit. Austrian psychedelic artist Peter Kogler uses his art to create mind-bending spaces out of ordinary rooms. This particular work was on display in 2016 at the ING Art Center in Brussels.

A Real Illusion with a Scientific Explanation

This is an actual photo of a boat that seems to be floating in the air. The image was not tweaked with photoshopping, and it was not taken from a strange angle in order to create the illusion. It even has a name. It’s called the Fata Morgana, named after the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay. Italian shipman superstitiously believed it was she who lured sailors to their deaths by tricking them with a mirage of land.


The Fata Morgana is a rare phenomenon that occurs when there is an inversion layer. Warm air is usually nearest to the earth. When it inverts, and colder air is close to the sea, it causes the atmospheric illusion. It’s rare because when the inversion layers occur, wind generally mixes the air, and no effect is noticed.


Too. Much. Cute. And what an amazing way to express art. It’s like a silhouette profile portrait turned inside out. Light brings the shapes of three sweet pets to life. A doggo, a kitty, and a bunny are shaped by humans engaging with each other. The illusion flips back and forth between people and pets.


This must have been a very effective ad. The images were used for promoting pet adoption. One of each, please!

‘Manifestation Station’

From the perfect vantage, “Manifestation Station” looks like a transparent space that fills in the background with a utopian cityscape. The gutter is a sparkling blue river, major market Safeway is transformed into a thriving farmers market, and a grass-lined bike lane replaces painted green concrete.


Artist Mona Caron was commissioned by the city transportation department to create this mural. It is located in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood on Church and Duboce streets. If you look closely, you can see the mural in the background continues beyond the utility box mural. That background mural is hers too! I wonder if any birds have tried to stop by for a splash in the river?

An Impossible Repair Job

A clever Reddit user captured this scene at just the right angle to drive us bonkers. It looks like these repairmen are defying the laws of physics by reaching across to this side of the bridge from the distance of the street, where their lift vehicle is parked. How could their lift stretch so far?


Well, for starters, their lift has horizontal motion, as well as vertical. So, the reality is those workers are repairing the bridge from where their vehicle is parked. As a bonus optical illusion, check out that orange safety cone that seems to levitate above the worker on the ground.

What Kind of Swimming Pool is This?

Why do the people inside look totally dry? And how does that man’s hat stay on? Shouldn’t their hair be floating upward? Do I see someone using their phone?


Mystery solved! This swimming pool is actually a very special pool that contains no water. It’s an art installation at the 21st Century of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. There is a hallway and a door to enter the pool from the bottom, while a glass plate covers the surface of the pool with a foot of water on top, giving the impression of a filled pool.

Watch it Wiggle

Here’s a fun little distraction to make your brain freak. Assuming you’re viewing this image from your phone, shake it up a bit. When you’re done shaking the device, look at the Oreo cookie in the center of the cake and watch it dance!


The jiggling effect sort of turns the cake to Jell-O. It’s like the cookie is still shimmying and shaking even after you’ve stopped moving the phone.

A Lakeside Mirage

Although it looks like a nice strip of white sandy beach at the base of rolling green hills, don’t bother pulling over to take a dip.


Tell your brain that the green sea that spreads out before you is not real. Insist it is just an optical illusion. Look at it again and try to visualize, instead, a concrete barrier on the side of a highway what it is. The shrubs obscure the concrete barrier, and the shadow on the side of the wall appears to be a lake, while the sunshine on the top of the wall looks like a long strip of beach.

Partly Cloudy

This is what happens when your cloud storage gets overwhelmed with too many pet photos. A big cloud comes over your house and rains cats and dogs.


But seriously, it’s quite a cloud form. When does a puffy cloud appear to be cat-shaped and dog-shaped at once? Probably never.

Disappearing Dots

There are 12 black dots on this grid. The crazy part is you cannot see them all at once. It’s neurologically impossible. Instead of seeing all 12, the dots seem to twinkle on and off.


Scientists invented the Scintillating Grid Illusion in 1997. They say the grid tricks your brain into seeing a pattern that doesn’t exist. The internet went bonkers when game developer Will Kerslake tweeted the Scintillating Grid in 2016. Part of the reason the illusion works is that humans do not have the best peripheral vision. When you focus on one dot, the others seem to disappear. This happens because your brain mistakenly fills in the rest of the pattern.

Jupiter’s Long-Lost Cousin

Do you see the resemblance? Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and this perfect circle of wood looks exactly like it. Right?


Or maybe it looks more like a tabletop. Either way, you’re right. This is not the best optical illusion on the list.

I Got My Eyes On You

It’s kind of creepy to feel so many eyes staring at you. This makeup artist based in Vancouver, B.C., has an Instagram page full of these types of illusory looks like this.


She calls this psychedelic look “onion girl” because she’s made her face look like it has several layers. It’s almost all a little too real-looking. Is that really makeup?!

The Hidden 8 of Diamonds

If you stare at this one long enough, the numeral eight begins to reveal itself in a new way. It must have been someone very bored with a card game who figured this one out.


Look at the eight diamond shapes. Then focus on the white space between them. Suddenly, a large figure eight in the center of the card appears. It’s a clever bit of detail, isn’t it?

The Confounding Ponzo Illusion

The Ponzo illusion was first discovered by Italian psychologist Mario Ponzo in the early 1900s. Sometimes called a geometrical-optical illusion, the Ponzo illusion is a sleight of mind that makes linear objects appear to be different sizes when the size is exactly the same.


In this picture, do the illuminated red bars look like they are different sizes? Due to the Ponzo effect, the bar in the distance appears to be longer due to the linear pattern of tiles. To see the bars with the proper perspective, tip your device on its side and look at the bars horizontally.

A Veil of Marble

Does this look like the work of one of our modern visual illusionists? Quite the opposite. This is a sculpture by Italian Rococo artist Antonio Corradini. He devoted years to this marble carving during the early 1740s without commission. The final work never even sold.


Called The Vestal Virgin Tuccia, or Veiled Woman, it is now permanently housed in Rome at the Palazzo Barberini. His subject was an ancient Roman Vestal Virgin who was wrongly accused of lacking chastity.

How Does This Man Eat?

Does he tie it in a ponytail and fling it over his shoulder? Or is this another tricky illusion?


Yes. It’s beginning to make sense. The mane of gorgeous auburn hair belongs to a woman who is wearing a black T-shirt too. That is not his belt. He’s got his thumb in. It’s hers. She’s not quite a head shorter, reaching to the base of his nose, exactly where his beard and mustache would begin.

Whatever Floats Your Boat

This boat doesn’t even look like it’s afloat unless it is floating on air! It’s a whole new level of levitation. Or, it’s just an optical illusion.


The shadow under the boat is cast at the angle of the sun, while the water is so crystal clear that the surface level becomes invisible. But, if you look at the rope that moors the craft, you will see it disappears into the water at the proper distance from the bow of the boat. Or, check out the guy at the back of the boat with his feet dangling in the water. Suddenly it all makes sense.

Body Double

This photograph is a good example of a literal optical illusion. These types of illusions create an image of something that is not reality.


It plays with perspectives. It appears that a guy with a large head and small body is reaching over to hug his girlfriend. However, just the opposite is true. The person standing is actually the girl. Her body is leaning over and wrapping around the right side of the guy who is sitting in the chair. Her head is completely hidden from view, except for some long hair and a peek at her nostrils, which you can see if you look closely. Do you see her?

Count the Legs

If you’re going bonkers trying to count four legs on this elephant, you’re not alone. The artist drew this image specifically to confuse. It’s one of the most famous optical illusions. Known as the Impossible Elephant or the Shepard Elephant, it’s an optical paradox created by psychologist Roger Shepard. The pen and ink drawing was included in his 1990 book about optical illusions called Mind Sights. The author says the image “depicts what may at first glance appear to be something that could exist as a real object in the three-dimensional world.”


One way to see only four legs on this elephant is to start from the body and look down. Following the limbs to the feet finds that the feet are not filled in. And to make it more confusing, there may be unseen elephants standing in the background.

What is This?

I’m going to go with an accordion selfie. An accordion selfie may be a selfie pose you’ve never heard of because I have never heard of it either.


The guy in front obviously told each guy down the line to progressively bend slightly toward the camera. The effect is nothing short of spectacular. The head of the guy in front seems to replicate, like some kind of self-replicating sci-fi creature. If they all sat straight again, his pose would return to a normal selfie.

The Classic “Café Wall” Optical Illusion

The Café Wall optical illusion falls under the category of distorting illusions. Similar to the artwork of Peter Kogler, it tricks the eyes into believing a flat surface has different characteristics.


I know it’s hard to believe, but all these horizontal lines run parallel to each other. It is difficult to tell from the angle of this photograph, yet it’s true; the tiles are square. What causes visual and cognitive confusion is twofold. First, it is the way the tiles do not line up exactly at their corners; each corner is off just slightly. Secondly, the use of visible mortar lines completes the illusion. The original locale this pattern was identified as an optical illusion occurred at a local UK café in St. Michael’s Hill, Bristol.

Stay Focused!

Look at one set of eyes and mouth or, rather, try. Easier said than done. This image makes it almost impossible to focus on just one set of facial features.


It’s an optical illusion that makes us think we have double vision. Since the face is one of the most recognizable images that our brain processes, the distortion causes confusion. A similar image has been used in a drunk driving awareness advertisement. Do you feel intoxicated looking at his face?

A Waterfall Under Water?

This colonial island nation located southeast of Africa in the Indian Ocean offers a spectacular sight from above. This view is possible from the southeastern tip of the island of Mauritius.


The waterfall illusion on Mauritius is created by the runoff of sand and silt instead of water. The clarity of the water brings to light those deposits. Directly above, it almost looks like an underwater vortex. After all, it’s just natural beauty.

Trip Out on This Hallway

But don’t trip!


It’s entirely flat, actually, so tripping should not be a problem. To create the effect, the tile company laid the floor in a curved pattern. Each tile was not square-shaped but rather cut into various shapes to create the trippy design. This artistic walkway was installed by British tiling company Casa Ceramica. The warped-looking floor serves as the entrance to their Manchester showroom.

Anamorphic Art

French artist François Abélanet constructed this green globe outside of Paris City Hall for a 2011 art presentation. He called it “Qui Croire?” or “Who to Believe?”


The massive project required 90 people five days to construct it. It’s actually 100 meters long and not a sphere at all. From one angle, it looks like a perfect globe. But from the side, it is revealed to be a long stretch of 1,200 square meters of lawn patched together. If you’re curious how this 3D anamorphosis artwork works, check out “Qui Croire?” on YouTube. It’s amazing!

A Herd of Horses

In most business parks, one does not expect a herd of horses to go galloping by. These beasts, wild and free, are kicking up a splashy path, racing to wherever they are off to.


But really, these ponies are permanent installations of sculpted bronze, decorating a commercial property water fountain. The splash feature near their hoofs and legs sure gives it the look of motion.

A Whimsical Illusion

This may be the most playful apartment building in the world. The illusion of people communally frolicking in open spaces and grassy park areas makes you happy just looking at it.


Believe it or not, this is not the only amazing mural artwork in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The town has a total of 16 murals all around Sherbrooke, complete with a self-guided mural tour. All the other artworks are equally fun. Some contain quirky scenes with hidden shapes. Kids can point out the silliness.

Stairway to IKEA

What do you do with all those little Allen Keys or hex wrenches that come with every “some assembly required” purchase? Like many, I’ve wondered too.


What looks like a bright and shiny stairway is actually a collection of those wrenches neatly lined in rows. Would they all come crashing down if Barbie stepped foot on the lowest stair? Or did the creator hold it all together somehow? Some things we will never know, but I do see some adhesive strips in the bottom corner.


It sure looks like this guy is hovering several inches over the asphalt. Although scientists insist levitation is nothing more than magic or illusion, some people claim supernatural powers or psychic energy can and has resulted in levitation.


What we have here is an illusion. What at first seems to be a shadow created by levitation is really just a dark mark on the street, like a grease spill or a wet spot. It’s amazing how our minds and our eyes can “see” something that is not there and then just as easily see the reality.

A Desert Arch Plays with Perception

Look at Delicate Arch located in the Moab area of Utah. Which leg of the arch do you think is closest to our view?


Did you choose the smaller one? You’re right! But don’t look at it too long. If you look at it again, it might flip and flop. The largest leg is furthest away, but the smaller leg seems like it should be farther away because it is smaller. Go out to Moab desert one time and see for yourself.

Skyscrapers in Perspective

Try to guess which building is in the foreground.


Did you decide? The light brown building seems to pop out as if it’s in front, but then, once we look at the gray building, that one seems to be closer. I’m going to go with the gray building since its edge seems to block the rest of the brown building. Playing with perspectives is such a trip!