# Relative Coffee Cups

By on July 12, 2009, with 113 Comments

Concerning the illusions, I found this one through Google image search. I really liked it. Now, if I started talking too much about it, the answer would become more than obvious. I wouldn’t like to ruin this one for you, so I’ll let you solve this by yourselves. All I can say is that it has something to do with Relative Sizes. Shouldn’t be too complicated, though.

Are these cups different in size?

113 Responses
1. The Cube is Drawn on the table, while YES the cups are the same size.

2. Tofu Mogu says:

wow! i really like the picture profile!!!!

Shame there isn’t a second photo in the gallery, perhaps the view from directly above would reveal all. The “one-eye” of a camera can be fooled with such a contrived set up.

The cube should be in carpet tiles at the main entrance, just inside the lobby.

4. S says:

Yes they are the same size in RL.
Yes the smaller one is placed further away in RL

This has nothing to do with the intended illusion though.

The illusion is that that cube make it appear to be at the same distance from the viewer, while in fact it is not

5. Scott says:

I don’t think the illusion is supposed to be “are the two cups the same size?” I think it’s supposed to be “are to two cups the same distance away from the camera?” and the answer is yes. The cube that the smaller cup is sitting on is right next to the larger cup, but the smaller cup looks like it is farther away, but can’t be.

6. Smudge says:

The cups are visually different sizes, but we are led to believe that they are the same size “in real life” (although this is absolutely inverifiable).

Good illusion, though this could be done much better.

7. Victor says:

Being given the context (the site we are on), I wonder (without a hint) if the “large” cup isn’t in fact SMALLER then the “small” one…

8. David says:

One of the keys to making this coffee cup illusion work is knowledgeable use of the camera. The photographer needed to use a very small aperture to get a big depth of field in order to not give away the distance of the coffee cups from the camera by way of focus or lack thereof. Viewers have learned to judge placement in a 2D image by focus, so removing that information is critical. They could have done a better job of faking the cube shadow, but otherwise pretty good.

9. fried man says:

cody

perception IS reality.

The cups are different sizes IN the 2d picture. That is the perception, which makes it reality.

The cups are the Same size if you were to see them in person, hold them, etc…..that is a different reality than what is shown in the 2d pic.

10. Cody says:

fried man,

perception is recognition and interpretation, the way our brain perceives things but it is never THE reality. That’s why it is an optical illusion, when our brain is tricked to see what isn’t really there.

And here, it’s not the question if these cups are different in 2D. If it were the case, it would be too obvious and pointless to do this optical illusion.

11. Anonymous says:

dear vurdlak, i feel so sorry for you… i enjoy coming to your site whenever i see something nice on my igoogle gadget and each time, out of curiosity, i read the comments people post… i’m sorry guys, but some of you are a real pain… who cares how vurdlak writes the article? this site is about illusions/mind tricks, not bbc latest news. also, why does everyone attack everyone else when they have different opinions? it’s all relative – of course the two cups are the same size (or so we can assume otherwise what would be the point of this illusion?) but it is true that if you’re talking about the picture, not the actual table with the two cups, they’re different sizes. ok, i personally think that’s a lame remark that doesn’t need to be pointed out, but still it’s true so just let people think what they want if it makes them happy… having said that, i do need to say that i love david redman’s comment… LOL!

12. Detective Kitty says:

I must admit that this one stumped me for awhile until I read a comment that told the answer…I was very much dissappointed in myself for not figuring it out but of course stumping me get’s a five star rating on my side….

13. robert connelly says:

it is not elevated how do i know look at the floor wood flooring then carpet then more wood flooring so the cups are on a carpet with a cube on it, how it works is your eyes are lieing to you, because of the 2d image with the 3d cups in a 2d picture so all of the 3d is 2d to u cant tell what is what

14. Joshua says:

Hey I believe that whole brown square the 2 cups are sitting on is a drawing. That would explain the inconsistancies of the shadows. They’re the same size, just a few feet apart.

15. Zerro says:

They are the same size a few feet aprt…and the cube and the shadow..a drawing…or a painting maybe?

16. I have to say that the 2 cups are exactly the same, the rest of the picture is just a drawing to make our eye’s see that the one is bigger than that of the other, but than again, they really could be totally different sizes but I am still going for my first option of them being the same.

OMG. It isn’t that hard! The cube is a part of the carpet, duh!
If anybody knows how shadows work, you’d cleary see that the cube has a shadow thats going the wrong way. If the carpet was just 1 color it would be obvious to everyone. I think that the cup in the background is actually bigger. Just copy in paint, and cover the whole cube and it’s shadow until its not visible anymore. A whole other world will open for you dumb people. No offence to the ones that had it figured out, but I didn’t wanna frustrate myself so I didn’t read all the comments.

18. What I’d like to know is how to draw geometrically these eyes-fooling perspectives (trompe-l-oeils).-Maybe something like the mypicx link given by Paul.
Obviously one could project the picture of a cube on the table, at the same place one is going to take the picture, then draw.
And, yes, the reel issue here is that there is no coffee in either of them!

19. Anton says:

real simple, seen it b4, the cube is painted on the paper and the cups are identical

20. Lolzater=] says:

OMG, i got hose cups a home, as in, the pattern
and the teacup, but without saucer :P

21. Lolzater=] says:

*those
:L

22. Kamil says:

….
*these
:L

23. qwertyelna says:

no they arent. they are the same size because the cube is painted on the table thingamajig & theres a copy of the cup on top.

24. qwertyelna says:

wait I said that wrong. i meant to say that they are the same size

25. ME says:

theyre not the same size… as 1. it is a picture. it has only one size (ownage 1 fkyeah).
2. as i try to size the big cups with my fingertips, ga back to the other cup with the same size….not the same…

Sorry u all got owned by ME

• not telling says:

i’m sorry but this is an optical illution, they are not the same size they are different sides of something, has it never occured to you things look smalled when they are further away, so no, we did not all get owned by YOU!

26. Kayla says:

the cups are the same size it is jst that one is on the other end of the coffee table and the cube that is on there gives it the illusion that it is smaller

27. eee efff geee says:

i get it the cups are the same size the one in the back is far away that cube is a drawing or a painting

28. Hawaii Shay GGrl says:

they are to scale models of each other.

29. Wolf says:

No way to tell. Its obvious the picture is setup to make one look bigger then the other. But with only the picture to go by, theres no way to say if one is larger then the other.

30. trinity w says:

This one is really fun to look at :-)

31. Helen says:

Guys, no no. I’ve seen this before. Of course the cups are the same size. I’ve seen this in a tutorial on how to draw like Julian beever on paper!

32. Maksim says:

The cube gives it away: the right side is not vertical, meaning it was painted on the flat surface, and the artist didn’t do a very good job :o)