List of optical illusions

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This is a list of optical illusions.

Name Example Notes
Afterimage illusion Afterimagenpov.svg An afterimage or ghost image is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one's vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased.
Afterimage on empty shape (also known as color dove illusion) Afterimage.svg This type of illusions is designed to exploit graphical similarities.
Ambiguous image Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg These are images that can form two separate pictures. For example the image shown forms a rabbit and a duck.
Ames room illusion Ames room.svg An Ames room is a distorted room that is used to create an optical illusion.
Ames trapezoid window illusion Ames window.png A window is formed in the shape of a trapezium. It is often hung and spun around to provide the illusion that the window rotates through less than 180 degrees.
ASCII stereogram An ASCII stereogram is an image that is formed using characters on a keyboard.
Autokinesis visual illusion The autokinesis visual illusion is an illusion that forms due to the autokinetic effect.
Autokinetic effect The autokinetic effect occurs when a stationary image appears to move.
Autostereogram Stereogram Tut Random Dot Shark.png
Stereogram Tut Eye Object Size.png
An autostereogram is a single-image stereogram (SIS), designed to create the visual illusion of a three-dimensional (3D) scene from a two-dimensional image in the human brain.
Barberpole illusion Barberpole illusion animated.gif The barber pole illusion is a visual illusion that reveals biases in the processing of visual motion in the human brain.
Benham's top Benham's Disc.svg When a disk that has lines or colours on it is spun, it can form arcs of colour appear.
Beta movement Phi phenomenom no watermark.gif Movement that appears to occur when fixed pictures turn on and off.
Bezold Effect Bezold Effect.svg An apparent change of tone of a colour due to the alteration of the colour of the background.
Blivet Poiuyt.svg Also known as "poiuyt" or "devil's fork", this illusion is an impossible image because in reality the shape cannot exist.
Café wall illusion Café wall.svg This illusion is a pattern where different coloured squares on a wall appear to form horizontal curved lines. It is named such because this is the type of artwork often seen on café walls.
Catoptric cistula Catoptric theatre.jpg A catoptric cistula is a box with insides made of mirrors so as to distort images of objects put into the box.
Checker shadow illusion Grey square optical illusion.PNG
Same color illusion proof2.png
The checker shadow illusions shows that when a shadow is cast onto a checked board, the colours of squares A and B in the photos appear to be different, when in fact they are the same.
Chubb illusion Chubbillusion.gif The Chubb illusion is an optical illusion or error in visual perception in which the apparent contrast of an object varies substantially to most viewers depending on its relative contrast to the field on which it is displayed.
Color constancy Hot air balloon - color constancy.jpg Colour constancy is an example of subjective constancy and a feature of the human color perception system which ensures that the perceived color of objects remains relatively constant under varying illumination conditions. A green apple for instance looks green to us at midday, when the main illumination is white sunlight, and also at sunset, when the main illumination is red.
Color phi phenomenon The color phi phenomenon is a perceptual illusion in which a disembodied perception of motion is produced by a succession of still images.
Contingent perceptual aftereffect
Convergence micropsia
Cornsweet illusion Cornsweet illusion.svg An illusion where two colours can obviously be seen to be different when placed directly beside each other; however, when the two colours are separated by a thick black line, they appear to be of the same hue.
Delboeuf illusion Delboeuf.jpg
Disappearing Model
Ebbinghaus illusion Mond-vergleich.svg
Ehrenstein illusion Ehrenstein.svg
The Ehrenstein illusion is an optical illusion studied by the German psychologist Walter Ehrenstein in which the sides of a square placed inside a pattern of concentric circles take an apparent curved shape.
Fechner color
Figure-ground (perception) Cup or faces paradox.svg
Filling-in Troxler fading.svg
Flash lag illusion
Forced perspective
Fraser spiral illusion Fraser spiral.svg
Gravity hill
Grid illusion HermannGrid.gif
Hering illusion Hering illusion.svg
Hollow-Face illusion Bjorn Borg Hollow Face.jpg The Hollow-Face illusion is an optical illusion in which the perception of a concave mask of a face appears as a normal convex face.
Hybrid image Hybrid image decomposition.jpg A Hybrid Image is an optical illusion developed at MIT in which an image can be interpreted in one of two different ways depending on viewing distance.
Illusory contours Kanizsa triangle.svg Illusory contours or subjective contours are a form of visual illusion where contours are perceived without a luminance or color change across the contour.
Illusory motion
Impossible object Impossible cube illusion angle.svg
Irradiation illusion
Isometric illusion Cubes at Heureka, optical illusion.jpg An isometric illusion (also called an ambiguous figure or inside/outside illusion) is a type of optical illusion, specifically one due to multistable perception.
Jastrow illusion Jastrow illusion.svg The Jastrow illusion is an optical illusion discovered by the American psychologist Joseph Jastrow in 1889.
Kanizsa triangle Kanizsa triangle.svg The Kanizsa triangle is an optical illusion first described by the Italian psychologist Gaetano Kanizsa in 1955. It is a triangle formed of illusory contours.
Leaning tower illusion The Leaning Tower Illusion is an optical illusion that presents two identical images of the Leaning Tower of Pisa side by side.
Lilac chaser Lilac-Chaser.gif Lilac chaser is a visual illusion, also known as the Pac-Man illusion.
Liquid crystal shutter glasses
Mach bands Mach band.svg Mach bands is an optical illusion named after the physicist Ernst Mach.
Magic Eye
McCollough effect Grid for McCollough effect.svg
Missing square puzzle Missing square puzzle.svg
Missing square edit.gif
The missing square puzzle is an optical illusion used in mathematics classes to help students reason about geometrical figures.
Moon illusion Moonillusion.png The Moon illusion is an optical illusion in which the Moon appears larger near the horizon than it does while higher up in the sky.
Motion aftereffect
Motion illusion Anomalous motion illusion1.png
Müller-Lyer illusion Müller-Lyer illusion.svg The Müller-Lyer illusion is an optical illusion consisting of a stylized arrow.
Musion Eyeliner
Necker cube illusion Necker cube and impossible cube.svg The Necker Cube is an optical illusion first published in 1832 by Swiss crystallographer Louis Albert Necker.
Necker Cube Necker cube.svg
Numerosity adaptation effect Numerosityadaptation.png
Orbison illusion Orbison illusion.svg The Orbison illusion is an optical illusion that was first described by the psychologist William Orbison in 1939.
Penrose stairs Impossible staircase.svg The Penrose stairs was created by Lionel Penrose and his son Roger Penrose.[1] A variation on the Penrose triangle, it is a two-dimensional depiction of a staircase in which the stairs make four 90-degree turns as they ascend or descend yet form a continuous loop, so that a person could climb them forever and never get any higher.
Penrose triangle Penrose triangle.svg The Penrose triangle was first created by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934. The mathematician Roger Penrose independently devised and popularised it in the 1950s, describing it as "impossibility in its purest form".
Pepper's ghost
Perceived visual angle VisualAngleAboveHorizonDefs.svg
Peripheral drift illusion PDIFaubertHerbert.png
Phantogram Phantogram projection diagram.svg Phantograms, also known as Phantaglyphs, Op-Ups, free-standing anaglyphs, levitated images, and book anaglyphs, are a form of optical illusion.
Phi phenomenon
Poggendorff illusion Poggendorff illusion.svg
Ponzo illusion Ponzo illusion.gif
Rubin vase Rubin2.jpg
Sander illusion Sander Illusion.svg
Silencing Silencinghue.jpg Silencing is an illusion in which a set of objects that change in luminance, hue, size, or shape appears to stop changing when it moves.
Size–weight illusion The size–weight illusion is also known as the Charpentier illusion (or Charpentier–Koseleff illusion).
Stroboscopic effect Strobe 2.gif
Swept-plane display
Ternus illusion
Thaumatrope Taumatropio fiori e vaso, 1825.gif A thaumatrope is a toy that was popular in Victorian times.
The Spinning Dancer Spinning Dancer.gif
Troxler's fading
Vertical–horizontal illusion Vertical–horizontal illusion.png
Visual tilt effects TiltIllusion.jpg
Wagon-wheel effect WagonWheelEffect.gif
White's illusion White illusion.svg
Wundt illusion Wundt illusion.svg
Zoetrope Zoetrope.jpg
Zöllner illusion Zollner illusion.svg The Zöllner illusion is a classic optical illusion named after its discoverer, German astrophysicist Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Penrose, LS; Penrose, R. (1958). "Impossible objects: A special type of optical illusion". British Journal of Psychology 49 (1): 31–33. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8295.1958.tb00634.x. 

External links[edit]