Awesome Illusions

Vanishing Painting

Vanishing Painting

Artists often like to paint what they’re looking at, but this one takes things to another level. Döuyin contributor tcmss1.0 looked out beyond their tiny, tilted canvas and painted precisely what they saw – preserving the perspective and making the painting gradually disappear into the background.

Five Impossible Figure Illusions

Five Impossible Figure Illusions

Our brains can be easily tricked by optical illusions. StruckDuck shows off five different 3D-printed objects which seem to defy logic but are just messing with our minds thanks to the camera’s perspective. You can download STL files for all of these objects on StruckDuck’s Etsy shop.

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Wall-Climbing Illusion

Wall-Climbing Illusion

Artist Leandro Erlich is known for large-scale installations incorporating optical illusions. This simple yet effective illusion combines an image of a building with mirrors at a 45º angle, turning visitors on the floor into wall-climbing Spider-People. It’s on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through 9.15.22.

Satisfying Slicing Machine

Satisfying Slicing Machine

We’re fascinated by the variety of machines you find in factories. This particular device is fairly simple – a couple of rollers and a spinning blade. But it’s the stroboscopic optical illusion that occurs when it spins up to speed that makes it so satisfying to watch. Somebody needs to turn this into an endless loop.

Ball Rolling Uphill Illusion

Ball Rolling Uphill Illusion

At first glance, it looks like the ball in this video from StruckDuck is defying gravity and rolling up a slide. The trick involves a specially-distorted 3D print and a camera placed in exactly the right spot to pull off the illusion. You can buy the STL template file for the slide on Etsy.

Hand-Loading a Ferry

Hand-Loading a Ferry

If there is a higher power controlling things on Earth, we like to imagine they reach down with their giant hands to move things around while we’re not looking. Filmmaker Erik Schmitt’s forced perspective illusion of a hand moving cars on a ferry is pretty much what we’ve envisioned. His TikTok channel has lots more visual tomfoolery.

Elastic Band Perspective Drawing

Elastic Band Perspective Drawing

Drawing in perspective allows artists to create 2D images with the illusion of depth. Rob of BK Architecture shows us how you can easily create 2-point perspective by drawing along an elastic cord strung between two push pins manipulated by a paperclip. A single pushpin can be used to draw a fisheye perspective.

Insane Makeup Illusions

Insane Makeup Illusions

Esther Aular aka NEKI is an incredibly talented makeup artist, specializing in optical illusions. She creates her alter-egos with a mix of face paint and prosthetics. See if you can guess where her real eyes are hiding on each of the faces in this compilation video, and check out more of her surreal creations on TikTok.

Rolling Marbles Uphill

Rolling Marbles Uphill

When you place a marble at the bottom of a ramp it shouldn’t roll uphill, right? Well in this tricky video from Things Made of Cardboard, they made it look like it’s possible. See if you can figure out how they did it before the end of the video.

Every Video Is an Illusion

Every Video Is an Illusion

Videos and film images aren’t moving at all. They’re just a collection of back-to-back frames that our brains stitch together to create the illusion of movement. Joe Hanson of the PBS series Be Smart takes a deep dive into the way that our eyes and minds process images and how motion picture devices work.

Magic Cube Lamp

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Bring a colorful splash of light into any space with this trippy tabletop lamp. It uses a combination of reflective acrylic, dichroic filters, and an LED light source to create the illusion of multiple cubes inside. Measures 8.6″ L x 8.6″ W x 9.4″ H.

Digital Tomfoolery

Digital Tomfoolery

This clever TikTok video uses simple visual effects and editing to create some mind-bending transitions. By changing outfits and posing himself in precisely the correct positions between cuts, it looks like its subject is seamlessly moving between the digital world and the real world.

The Phantom Queen Illusion

The Phantom Queen Illusion

Matt Pritchard’s trick chess set took home first prize in the 2021 Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Using a mirror and an anamorphic camouflage shield, the moving white queen only appears in the mirrored image. Gizmodo compiled more of the year’s best illusions here.

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Marble Conjuring Machine

Marble Conjuring Machine

Mathematician Yosuke Ikeda created this tricky machine which uses a mirror to make it appear that there is one more marble on its turntable than there really is. Except when the mirror is moved out of the way, another marble really is there.

10 Levels of Sleight of Hand

10 Levels of Sleight of Hand

Sleight of hand is a critical skill when it comes to close-up magic and card tricks. In this video, expert magician Daniel Roy walks us through a series of progressively more impressive card control examples. We could have sworn he was shuffling those cards when he wasn’t.

Magic Windows

Magic Windows

Engineer Matt Ferraro came up with an innovative method to hide images in clear acrylic. At first glance, the tile appears to be completely transparent, but when light passes through it onto a surface, an image is revealed. The technique relies on caustic patterns which cast shadows and transmit light at varying intensities.

Color Illusion 3D-printed Skull

Color Illusion 3D-printed Skull

Using a professional full-color 3D printer and taking advantage of the stairstepped surfaces of voxels, Make Anything was able to create a sweet model of a human skull that appears to change colors when viewed from different angles. Download the model here.

3D Illusion Window Display

3D Illusion Window Display

Created by ShaneF Motion Design, this incredible CGI rendering replaces the windows at the Zara SoHo NYC store with visuals that create the illusion that the store has been flooded with some kind of alien swarm. We’d love to see this done in real life using transparent LED screens.

Making Packages Invisible

Making Packages Invisible

While Mark Rober has shown us some amusing ways to annoy porch pirates, they don’t prevent them from stealing packages in the first place. Jason at Impossible Science came up with a clever way to fool them into thinking there’s no package there at all – using angled mirrors to cloak deliveries from being seen from the street.

Ghost Yo-Yo

Ghost Yo-Yo

This unique metal yo-yo features a lightweight CNC-machined frame that makes it look like its parts are floating. Its offset connector bars enable the optical illusion as it spins up to speed. It’s available in bead-blasted aluminum, black anodized aluminum, and titanium and includes a sleek metal desk stand.

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Missing Area Paradox Illusions

Missing Area Paradox Illusions

Tim Rowett from Grand Illusions takes a look at a series of tricks that make it appear as the number of people or objects change after changing their positions. The same effect can be applied to circular or linear illustrations, and even with physical objects like the Disappearing Cigar Trick.

Playing with Time

Playing with Time

Filmmaker Ben Ouaniche of Macro Room just blew our minds with this wild series of vingnettes which seamlessly combine slow-motion and normal speed footage. The result is something straight from the mind of Christopher Nolan, as time appears to move at multiple speeds at the same time.

Levitation 2

Levitation 2

The follow-up to Sila Sveta’s award-winning performance art piece Levitation goes beyond the boundaries of the original, growing this dancer’s environment from the limits of a small, projection-mapped stage into an expansive digital stage. Stick around to the end for the behind-the-scenes footage.

Infinity Mirror Box Sculpture

Infinity Mirror Box Sculpture

Mirror artist Nicky Alice created this captivating and hypnotic sculpture which looks like a series of infinitely-floating cubes. The trick to the illusion is the precisely-cut mirrors and the built-in LED illumination. His mirrored pyramid design is also really awesome.

Mephisto Spiral Illusion

Mephisto Spiral Illusion

This pair of stiff wires have each been bent into a spiral shape, then coiled together. You would think that pulling on their ends would pull them apart, but they don’t. Vsauce’s Jake Roper shows off this curious illusion and explains how it works. The Mephisto Spiral and other fun items can be found in The Curiosity Box.

Tiny People on Crack

Tiny People on Crack

Artist PEJAC created this outdoor work, which looks like a giant crack has formed in the concrete, but upon closer inspection is actually an ant-like colony of thousands of tiny people. The work, titled Social Distancing appears outside Valdecilla Hospital in Santander, Spain. Be sure to visit the artist’s website and Instagram.

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