Awesome Illusions

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.

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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.

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.

Knotted Steel Sculptures

Knotted Steel Sculptures
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Artist Ricardo Churchill brings the illusory magic of M.C. Escher to life with these impossible-looking desktop sculptures. Each one is handmade from mitered, welded, and finished steel. They come in three sizes: 6cm, 9cm, and 22cm, and in raw steel, silver, antique metallic, or powdercoat finishes.

Floral Black Hole Illusion

Floral Black Hole Illusion

Artist Visoth Kakvei is known for their intricate floral and ornamental illustrations. Among their incredible works are their “Floral Hole” images that appear to have a deep, dark hole in the middle of them. Another artist even animated one image to make it look like a bee was crawling out of the hole.

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Hot Wheels Magic Illusions

Hot Wheels Magic Illusions

5MadMovieMakers combine a mix of in-camera and post-production effects trickery to send their Hot Wheels car on a wild journey through a magical, illusion-filled course. Our favorite bit was the playing card gag. Zack King would be proud.

Mezmocoin Phantom

Mezmocoin Phantom

This slimline spinner toy is designed so its middle seems to vanish once it’s up to speed. Despite having an asymmetrical design, it’s been engineered to balance perfectly on its tungsten carbide pivot point. Available in stainless steel, brass, and copper wrapped around an aluminum core, or a special titanium edition.

Zach King’s Prop Collection

Zach King’s Prop Collection

Zach King is known for his fun illusion videos. Most of what he does involves in-camera tricks and editing and often incorporates props to help drive the tricks home. In this clip from Vanity Fair, King takes us on a tour of his office, where he stores a variety of his props along with numerous cool toys and other collectibles.

ROW

ROW

Russian art collective TUNDRA teamed up with display company HOLO ONE to create this hypnotic artwork. It features a series of modular, scalable persistence of vision screens which display moving patterns that highlight and reflect the space in which they are installed. The piece made its debut in Shanghai, China in July 2020.

Debunkathon 2020

Debunkathon 2020

Rather than debunk a single bit of visual fakery this time, Captain Disillusion kicks off 2020 a few months late with a 10-minute compilation of videos which aren’t what they seem. That Zach King ladder clip is definitely a tricky one to figure out.

Zach King’s Day Off

Zach King’s Day Off

Visual trickster Zach King pays tribute to the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, faking out his parents and sneaking out of the house on a “sick day” with his buddy through the magic of digital and practical effects, optical illusions, and clever editing.

Square Wave Spinner

Square Wave Spinner

Designed by Wales-based sculptor Ivan Black, this hypnotic, kinetic plaything is made from 21 interconnected metal rods, which can be spun and twisted to produce visually-stimulating patterns inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. It’s available in silver, gold, bronze, or a limited edition scarlet color. Be sure to watch the video.

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Propeller Tip Vortexes

Propeller Tip Vortexes

When an airplane encounters just the right weather conditions, its wingtips and propellers can generate visible patterns in the air. Redditor cburnett shared this wild footage of the patterns made by the four props on a Hercules C-130. A google search for “propeller vortexes” turns up more incredible images of the phenomenon.

LEGO Magic Angle Sculptures

LEGO Magic Angle Sculptures

John Muntean shows off his amazing LEGO shadow sculptures, each of which looks like an amorphous blob, but casts shadows of three distinct images as it’s rotated through a beam of light. After DragonButterflyJet, be sure to check out KnightMermaidPirateShip and ABC.

Polaroid 3D Effect

Polaroid 3D Effect

Game developer Matt Stark posted this mindbender of a video which uses computer graphics trickery to make it look like virtual Polaroid photos are portals to other environments. It’s a wild effect, and could be a very cool gameplay mechanic if incorporated into a video game.

Optical Invisibility Shield

Optical Invisibility Shield

Recently seen in a much larger version, this intriguing piece of plastic distorts light in order to make objects placed behind it look like they’re invisible. NightHawkInLight goes beyond the wow factor to explain how the prisms in this fresnel lens work their magic. If you want to play with a Lubor’s lens, you can find a bunch on Amazon.

Bird Facing Right

Bird Facing Right

Among the entries in the 2019 Best Illusion of the Year contest is this little gem from optical illusion expert Kokichi Sugihara. This uniquely-designed object looks like a bird, and regardless of how many times you turn it, it always faces right.

Volumetric Sound Display

Volumetric Sound Display

Scientists from the University of Sussex are developing a method of displaying 3D tactile images using ultrasonic waves. The system works by levitating a small plastic bead and rapidly maneuvering it to create a persistence of vision effect. If they can move more dots or move them faster, they could create more complex images.

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