# Vanishing Girls Optical Illusion

By on June 28, 2012, with 261 Comments

Here’s one that has me puzzled for days! Even though we successfully cracked both the Mad Professor and Irish Leprechauns puzzle, I can’t seem to understand how this one works. As a reminder, these sort of vintage puzzles were quite popular back in the old days. They originally came sliced in multiple pieces, and could be put together in different ways, where each setup worked. Depending on how you connected the pieces, different amount of people/objects is seen. In the example below, you can end up with 15 or 14 pin-up girls. But I still don’t understand from where did that extra lady come from? Looking at both pictures simultaneously, I can see each of them present in each setup. Please help me figure this one out! Visual examples are more than welcome – I encourage you to attach them along with your comments… thx!

261 Responses
1. Don says:

Each girl in the second one is a few pounds lighter (shorter). In the re-arrangement, a thin slice is “transferred” to the next girl. They lose a little more than they gain. You can’t do this with money anymore, since bills have TWO serial numbers to prevent it.

2. Adam R. says:

Nice one! While I can’t exactly explain why, I think it has to do with one lady’s head being split in two, which lets it count as either 1 or 2 ladies. See my images for my “headcount”:

• Care Bear says:

You probably tell people how the movie they are watching is going to end, too.

• anonymous says:

you need to count the blue bows on the far left/right of the first image as a lady also.

• Mikael says:

It actually has to do with the lady you marked as number 7. In the first image her upper body is entirely on the top piece of the picture while part of the material she is sitting on is on the bottom half. When the pieces are rearranged she is to the far right to an open space and the bottom half that matched up to her before becomes the bottom of another lady’s dress. Since her entire body is on the top half and she is moved to a part of the picture with no matching bottom half it looks like it’s a new person.

• alex says:

4 girl on top dress is different

• Mr Jack says:

GOT IT, the deal is the trade off between the bow girl and the loner girl on the middle in the first piture, but it doesnt happen in a direct way, but by pieces of girls that compile. On the first pic we have this middle girl as a 2 piece, when in the second we have her as a one piece. So we have a +1/2 on the count, the other half comes from slowly chopping less and less of girls, check out how the rows have less match towards the end of the cicle from left to right, starting from middle, and this compiles obviously to the very last girl before we return to the middle girl which is the bow chick, a 2 piece first and a one piece later, when her bow gets split to the edges of the image and ignored, so we have another +1/2 and a total of sum of +1 girl, this one took some brain use there, uff

• Mr Jack says:

Simply put, there are always 14.5 girls there, on the first its 14 gals and a half, the bow, split to left and right, the other “half” is the girl sitting on her dress, in the middle, that has no dress part on the second pic, just a matter of counting partials as girls or not

the key is to see the two ladies that got her whole body only on the top and only on the bottom part of the second picture(bow and a piece of cloth are not body part). When you understand their placement, it will become clear how the 15th lady appeared.

• eric says:

you tried so hard – yet failed liked everyone else
why doesnt anyone notice, theres 14 girl pieces on the bottom, 15 on top. one girl doesnt have a bottom in the second image (long dress)

3. Julien2512 says:

The 15th on the first picture is made of the blue bow (very right middle of the picture) !

• Raylene says:

In the very middle of each end (right and left) of the picture is two blue dots. These make up the bow on the top of the head of the girl in the 2nd row bottom. She is the only one of all of them that doesn’t change heads. If you take the top half of the picture and move it over two rows there are bodies that exchange heads, except her. there is no extra bow until you put the sides together forming her bow. When the sides are apart there is no bow/top of head for her. Hence your extra girl in bottom picture.

4. nuts says:

This is freaking me out.

5. Ryan says:

3rd girl from the right (bottom image) doesn’t have any portion of her on the bottom.

One of the girl’s bunny-ear hats is on the seam so for the top image you only see two dots on the far left and right of the image.

• simon says:

Ryan has it

the bunny ears of the girl tying her shoes are part of the picture in the bottom one but whilst still there dont play a role in the top (theyre stuck out at both ends)the rest is easy…

does this trick rely on one being distracted by the shapeliness of the legs?

• bilbobob says:

7th girl from the left’s boobs are too small.

6. Robert says:

Pretty impressive. Looking at the bottom strip, and then the top, you can see where parts of women “disappear”, as they take on other parts of the body. The easiest to describe is the left most figure at bottom, vs her replacement. The replacement appears to be kneeling in the bottom image, but is standing in the top one (suddenly has a foot).

The trick to the illusion is that body parts are “cut” into two halves, but when reassembled, don’t maintain their aspect. There are so many figures, that it overwhelms the brain. We can’t compute so many dissections and re-assemblies at once.

Impressive, to say the least.

7. Dan says:

Excellent spot Ryan! That now makes sense! I saw that the top girl in the second photo (third from the right) had nothing on the bottom pane, but the crease/bunny bow didn’t even occur to me. Well done!

8. Lee says:

I think I figured it out. The key is that there are 15 things above the line and 15 below the line. But they are not exactly the same things. If you look at the bottom image, there are only 14 sets of legs – 14 ladies. If you look closely at the top image, there are black dots above the line at each end of the panel. When the panels are rearranged, these dots are together and become a bow for the lady who is 6th from the Left. Then if you look at the 7th lady from the Left, she moves to be the third from the right. In the top pic, she is sitting on a pink ruffle and in the bottom, there is nothing below the line. The ruffle is now the attached to the lady in the black bikini.
What they have done is create a 15th item on the top (the bow) and separated the kneeling lady and allowed her to be the 15th lady.

9. Dustin says:

I figured it out! The corners of the two top pieces have a fraction of a head that only comes together on 2nd arrangement.

10. willie says:

#1-10an7 changes bottoms and # 7 is moved over

11. Jim says:

If you look at the top image there are two blue things in the corners just above the cut that you probably ignore. In the bottom image those two come together to form the bow of the girl 6th from the left. The girl 3rd from right in bottom image also doesn’t have a bottom part but it is hardly noticable. New top half + lack of unnecessary bottom half = 1 extra girl.

12. Linda says:

The solution becomes visible when you stop viewing the pictures as parts of figures and see them instead as parts of individual images. The top and bottom of a figure is required to show a “girl” but if only the top and bottom of an image are missing then a whole “image” is missing. The lower part of the blanket that the girl labeled “7″ is sitting on is missing in the top display. There are also two figures wearing hair bows in the lower set of images. they are both cut off as the top of an individual but only one returns to be reassembled onto a girl. So you have a missing blanket as the bottom portion and a missing hair bow as the top portion. Neither of these items are really part of a girl but they are part of an image so their loss represents the loss of one whole image.

13. Gigi says:

It has to do with the woman that is numbered 7 in Adam R pic. Like Ryan said…she doesn’t have a bottom half in one pic…that’s the extra.

14. sg7147 says:

Ok so from what I can see….they take a small unnoticed dot on the far right of the top image and make it the top of a head on the second. Then, they move a full body (all the way to the right on the second image) it allows a whole new head in and a whole body in that wasn’t in the first.

15. Cody says:

To go from 14 to 15, each girl loses a small piece. A small section of each girl is cut off to add up to the extra one.

16. amold says:

Sorry the image file did not appear before:

Anyway I see now that a similar figure has already been posted..

17. Dan Kennedy says:

I circled the pictures at the top with the pictures at the bottom using the following criteria.
1. Exact matches. Top to bottom. 2. Some of the top halfs of some (head to waist)were switched with the bottoms of others. I circled the top halfs on top and bottom that matched. 3. Sometimes only the heads were different. (I counted this as a match.) Using this criteria I found girl #14 on the bottom strip as the extra. Since her bottom is in other pictures you could get different girls as extras, but there should always be an additional girl. I hope this is intelligible. A lot of times I say things and people look at me as if I am strange. (Guilty as charged)

18. Linda says:

I should clarify a misstatement. It is not that the lower portion of the blanket is missing, only that it has not been replaced with another lower portion of an image. A floating purple ball in the area distracts us from this slight of hand. Additionally the unused hair ribbon is split and placed at opposite sides of the display for further distraction.

The point is that an entire top portion (ribbon) and an entire bottom portion (blanket) are being used in one image and not the other so we see 14 full images in one and 15 in the other.

19. John says:

The bottom half has 14 body parts, the top half has 15. When the pieces are shifted, the bow on the far right lower top half becomes the top part of girl #6 and girl #7 has no bottom. The illusion works because the little bow on the far right of the first image doesn’t get recognized as a girls head which it becomes when the top peices are swapped.

20. Brandon says:

Didn’t take me too long, hear is best way I can explain it. (attached pic)

21. Gavin says:

I think this is subtracting a small piece from each figure, enough to produce one additional figure. Sounds impossible.

Here is an example where I have 14 dummies, and have slid the bottom half of the picture across to make 15 dummies. A clever artist could make up for the obvious shortcomings.

• David Henderson says:

Gavin’s graphic explains the illusion quite nicely! Some of the other explanations provided remind me of the “Dunning-Kruger effect”.

22. Jahanara says:

If you count, there are 14 bottoms. Also, there are 14 heads. BUT if you look to the far right of the picture on top, you will see a little blue dot which ends up being on the 6th girl’s head. The bottom of girl number 13 in picture number 2, is not present. So still there are 14 bottoms and 14 tops, but 15 girls because no bottom on one, and no top on the other.

• Peter says:

Best explanation to this point in the discussion. It’s really just the same as the prior versions of this.

If this is not clear to you, think of this explanation along with the earlier comment about how a small part of each lady is removed and when all the small parts come together you get an extra person.

23. Deanna says:

Can not say for sure if this is “it”, but may be worth considering—the bottom uncut strip of both sets contain 13 sets of legs. I did not count the gal in the bikini to the left center, but it does give us the 14 women all together in the top set. Notice the far left lady in the top strip (also in bikini, I think) has “legs”. OK, now when we flip the top strips around to get the illusion in the second set, this gal now floats–no legs–with the other bikini lady, and becomes the 15th one. What do you think? Can anyone further explain?

24. Carole says:

The “trick” lady is actually the girl in the bikini in the top row. In the upper image the towel she is sitting on connects to the pink fabric on the lower strip. When the two upper strips are reversed, there is actually no matching bottom for her towel, thus creating the illusion of the extra lady.

25. NeeL says:

On the first are 14 whole women: 14 x 100% women.
On the second one, the upper parts and lower parts are recombined, resulting in 15 smaller women. each woman is a bit smaller: 15 x 93.3% women.

It’s the same with the leprechaun and mad professor puzzle: every person is a bit smaller than in the previous set-up.

These kind of puzzles often have a give away: in the first set-up, all the images connect well as if that’s the way they should be. In the second image where the upper and lower part are recombined, you see freakish transition on the line. Just check all the heads which are on the line, in every puzzle of this kind!

26. anonymous says:

Its the blue bow on the far left and right center of the top image that adds the final girl.

27. Don says:

It’s neat, but not that complicated. In the second version, each girl is slightly shorter (missing a “slice”, so to speak.) the cumulative effect of shifting pieces is a nearly complete girl. (The extra one is also a little smaller.)

28. Rob says:

The answer is obvious when you see it. Look at the black dot on the far right of the top layout. It becomes the head-top for the sixth lady from the left in the lower layout. Anyway… track the head movements and effectively each girl gets slightly taller until there is a whole body left over.

29. xoxo says:

im counting the boobs, and confused

• Shashi says:

LOL
very confusing

• Shashi says:

ROFLMAO
very confusing

• suor de sapo says:

#8 girl from left (top picture) has bigger breasts (2 pairs?)… Maybe she distributed to another. I’m speculating, have nothing yo do with it!

30. Warwick says:

I managed to make 16 women, if you line up the top image so that the girl who is entirely at the top is before the 2nd set of three women.

This makes 3,4,3,3,3 albeit with a little artistic license

31. Barry says:

The top image uses up more bits. The women on the top image are a bit bigger. EG. no 4 gains a thigh. Also the bow on no 6 is in the corners. No 7 dress bottom is not used below. So basically one woman is dissolved into the larger women on top.

It’s a bit like that jigsaw puzzle with the rectangle loosing a hole to the slightly smaller area when its rearranged.

32. lettie says:

The girl on the beach towel has a part on the top and bottom for the 14 girl pic, but then loses the bottom for the next pic. Essentially, one girl splits into two.

33. Kyla says:

It’s not that hard to understand: The extra woman was made of parts of the others.

First look at the top picture and you will notice that each woman has just a little bit too much geometry (stretched face, legs, belly, etcetera)…

Now look at the bottom picture and you see that they are all missing a little (too short face, legs, belly, etcetera)…

At the top picture you see on both sides the beginning of an extra woman because the bowtie is not used there. At the bottom picture it is used where the cards touch. underneath is now the extra woman made up out of the too much of the first picture and the too little of the bottom picture… That is more than enough to build the “extra” woman.

34. Mikal says:

It’s quite simply really; the top half was cut into two pieces and swapped. The bottom has not adjusted or moved at all. The heads/upper torsos fall perfectly in line with the rest of the bodies.

• Mikal says:

*simple

35. Rob says:

There’s a little black mark, right beside 14 in the top picture that Adam provided. It is used to complete the girl’s head at 6. This frees up one torso to become a body at figure 7 in the second picture.

36. Silveira says:

I think this explains / solves the mistery, thanks for AdamR and Julien2512 thoughts.

First image – 15 Girls
1-I labeled each half with “1/2″, and only girl “C” has “1″ since she’s not split
2-Pay attention to girls labeled A, B, C and D (forgot to add label to her… is the one under C, to the left wearing green)

Second image – 14 Girls
One girls “disappears” because we get two broken “1/2″. One is under girl C. she don’t need a 1/2, she was already a “1″, a full girl!
The other broken “1/2″ was girl A’s bow, that gets out of picture, almost unnoticed, unless you keep track as we just did.
And Girl A receives the bow from girl D.

So, the 15th girl is there, broken in two disconnected “1/2″.

37. Jennifer says:

The third woman from the right on the bottom image is a stand-alone figure. (number 7 in the first comment). She does not require a “bottom half” to exist as a complete image. However, when she is moved to the left, as she is on the top image, she lines up with a small portion of “bottom half”. This means that in one arrangement she is an extra while in the other she is not.

38. Greg says:

I’ve been following this site for ages (great work – keep it up!), but this is my first post, because this is one of the cleverest and most subtle puzzles I’ve ever seen.
First I tried counting heads and that didn’t work because sometimes they’re split. Never mind, try feet – again that doesn’t really work either. In fact, wherever you try and isolate parts of the body it doesn’t work. Each girl is divided in slightly different heights up the body. This gave me the clue to solving it. The very simplified example below explains it I think. But to translate that principle into such a complex image is amazing.
Where did the original puzzle come from and who published it?

39. Scott says:

I count 15 upper “halves” of the ladies, in both configurations.

It’s just that one of the 15 isn’t associated with a lower lady “half” in the top of the two assemblies. Specifically, the “bow” of the ballerina. In the top picture, that bow is split into two small dots at each end of the upper split pieces.

That is combined with one of the ladies not needing any lower “half”, in the second of your tow images (the bikini girl).

If you look closely at arrangement 1, you can see two pieces of a woman’s head in the outside corners of the top two pieces. In arrangement 2, woman #13 (from l to r) is missing the lower half of her dress. This means that in actuality, the tiles contain pieces for 14 and 1/2 women. Additionally, woman # 8 in arrangement 1 has a slightly elongated torso. This larger body size allows her to be split in half and serve as the major portion of the bodies of two separate women in arrangement 2 (#8 & #14). Whew! This is the kind of image that can destroy a collective ;)

41. Shayla says:

Half of the girl in the blue tutu’s head is on one corner and the other half is on the other corner in the top picture

42. rox271 says:

Very old trick which I already saw when I was a kid with dwarves.

43. Nicolas says:

Good answer. It’s a bit like that jigsaw puzzle with the rectangle loosing a hole to the slightly smaller area when its rearranged.

44. Dominic says:

Yeah I can see it now.

45. FreeMind says:

accidently deleted image…

46. Craig says:

This is very well done. In each arrangement we have 15 portions above the line and 14 below. The images of the girls are distorted such that in one arrangement the lone portion above the line is a bow (which is then split in half to make it near invisible) and in another arrangement the lone portion above the line is a girl. As someone else has posted, the girls are slightly smaller in the second image to allow this redistribution of portions to equate to the appearance of an ‘extra’ girl.

47. alex says:

i think that all yours are very bad. the response is that in the image 1 and 2 have two a little
pieces and then complete a bun that after put in the head at the girl that the shoe is getting dressed, thats all.
thanks.

48. Gary says:

Magical appearing girl…

• Greg says:

Well done for bothering to edit the picture like this – this one post explains it perfectly. Didn’t really need the other 227 replies!

49. CuspoSagii says:

JIC — There is a trick: slice some thin slivers panning down a twenty and tape everything back up. You seem to have made \$20.

50. Jonathan Louchart says:

Nice illusion !

In fact, this illusion is based on DeLand’s Paradox.(1909)

Sam Loyd and Stover studied it.

51. membersound says:

You have to look at the outer corners. There you see both the half of the 15th womans’ head, or however one would describe this.

By rearranging the picture, these to half-head-pices form the extra lady.

52. Red Baron says:

in the corner of right and left there is a black down which later forms a head. This head is lady nr 6. there is never an extra body however.

53. Rummy says:

Yeah tbh I can’t see why this has caused so much confusion. Looking at it next to the leprechaun one, it’s almost EXACTLY the same! The new mystery lady/leprechaun is even in the same place. The ladies, on the whole, get smaller.

I think one thing that causes confusion is the phantom/extra lady’s skirt when there’s only 14 of them, but you kinda need some reverse logic there to realise, in losing her skirt, it goes to being some of the area that makes her up in the 15, if that makes sense. I think.

54. CorralesID says:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te9Axh6EBUo&feature=related but subliminals also have XD

55. Karissa says:

Hi, It’s hard to explain but I will try my best. on the first image, the top left peice, the girl to the right of the second dot attatches to a small peice of skirt on the bottom peice. where as on the bottom image, she doesnt attatch to anything on the bottom peice, leaving her to be the 15th girl. please let me know if you understood that?

56. J Pangle says:

In the top image, look at the bottom outside corners and you will see that they built in an extra head. And the girl in the grey bikini, top piece close to center becomes a stand-alone when she moves to the edge. This gives you an extra piece for the bottom half.

57. Jenni says:

i dont see how everyone is so confused? its quite simple tbh :S

58. LuLu says:

I’m about to confuse the issue – I think this one used is a slightly poor version (no offence intended!) I had a version of this trick years ago with some girls on cushions, again burlesque style, with more background detail, but there wasn’t any obvious bits like the hair on here and the one whose skirt is cut off in a straight line and leads to a ball. But I think the people looking at the girls kneeling on the cloth might be on to something, because I remember on mine there was a girl in a similar position on a cushion who, when swapped, became the top half of a girl in a skirt. I’ve been trying everywhere to find an example like the one I had, but cant find one!!

59. Joan Blackberry says:

It’s just 2 peaces of paper, the top and bottom doens’t stick together. (sorry for the explenation, I’m Dutch ;) )
But you have 2 coloms,
Left, Middle, Right,
Put the upper paper 1 to the left, the most left, to the most right, and than you have the same picture as it was.
Hope you understand.

60. Ivy says:

There is a girl sitting on a blanket and if you look at the 2nd pic, there is nothing under the blanket. No extension. Then you compare it and you find out theres no girl in the first one to replace it.

61. Bruna says:

It’s because of the one who is tying her slippers because on the image on top it uses a bow of a head for the top half of the picture, the picture on the bottom does not use a whole bow it just conjoins the ends of the top half that has dots on them making it look like a bow and also the bottom picture then allows there to be a woman only on the top half and not the bottom (it’s the blonde on sitting on a pink thing)making it an extra girl…… Idk if that made much since but it’s what makes the extra girl

62. mike says:

The bottom picture is the original, people assume the top is because that is what you see first. In the bottom the 6th girl from the left is pretty much completely on the bottom half, and the 13th girl from the left is pretty much completely on the top half so when you take away half of one girl and half of another girl you are left with one less girl. The biggest part of the trick is knowing that people will assume the top pic is the original and they think an extra girl was somehow added.

63. I’ve diagrammed the solution at the link below. :)

http://perspectives.rea-hedrick.com/optical-illusions/vanishing-girls-solution/

(Hint: The trick is to count the “half” girls, not the “whole” girls.)

64. Ellen says:

If you look closely at the middle on the right hand side you will see part of what becomes a bow in the second picture, making it appear as though another girl has appeared even though they have not.

65. alex says:

Trick is that girl #7 is entirely on the top panel, and in the first arrangement she matches the the cloth from the bottom panel, counting as 1. But she doesn’t need to have a bottom part so in the other arrangement she moves to the right (still as 1) while the cloth is matched to the other lady.

66. RC says:

something that would be really puzzling until one discovers the role of the two small half-ribbons at the extreme left and extreme right of the first picture

(which at the second picture becomes the head of lady #6)

67. RC says:

Another way of looking at it is this:

The bottom half has 14 “LOWER PARTS” – all of which need an “UPPER PART” for them to become 14 “WHOLE LADIES”.

The upper half actually has the ff:
13 “UPPER PARTS” (that need “lower parts” to become “WHOLE LADIES”)
1 WHOLE LADY(LADY#7, which DOES NOT need a lower part)
1 RIBBON (two half-ribbons, one at the extreme left and one at the extreme right.)

In the FIRST ARRANGEMENT, the 14″LOWER PARTS” were partnered with the 13 “UPPER PARTS” AND the LADY#7 resulting to 14 “WHOLE LADIES”. (The RIBBON is NOT used(actually,two half-ribbons – one at the extreme left and one at the extreme right.))

In the SECOND ARRANGEMENT, the 14″LOWER PARTS” were paired with the 13 “UPPER PARTS” AND the “RIBBON” (making 14 WHOLE LADIES). THEN add to these the LADY#7 and YOU HAVE 15 WHOLE LADIES.

I hope this mystery is demystified…hehe

68. wow nice illusion

69. guma says:

Number 7 in Adam R. has in the picture above an extansion in the lower line, but is an single woman in the rows below.

70. sam says:

all i can say is this is top post of 2leep i am seeing this post every whr

71. sarimsakli says:

Trick is that girl #7 is entirely on the top panel, and in the first arrangement she matches the the cloth from the bottom panel, counting as 1. But she doesn’t need to have a bottom part so in the other arrangement she moves to the right (still as 1) while the cloth is matched to the other lady.

72. framdeal says:

in one picture there are 15 pairs of eyes, in the other picture there are 14 pairs of eyes…..the clue is in the eyes

73. Jan Kyle says:

I found it! The first picture has the top cut pieces right. The second picture has the opposite!

74. Hansel says:

If you look at the left bottom corner/edge of the top piece it has half a bow, and the right top piece in the farthest right also has a half a bow so when put together it creates an extra head. This allows for another person, because the person with both her legs up on the top piece doesn’t need a bottom half, so the extra head takes her bottom, and she is still fine! GOT IT!!!

75. tou says:

The bows on the bottom corners of the first half is supposed to be a woman which created another woman on the second one because the bikini sitting girl doesnt need a bottom half

76. news that you convey to the reader the benefit, thank you

77. Celia says:

9 and 3

ily you

good aftrnoon