Anamorphic Portrait Optical Illusion

Suzanne Daly contacted me with an impressive collection of anamorphic drawings. Most of them we already had showcased on this site, but there were few interesting ones I’ve never encountered before. One of them I’ll feature today. Can you help me by recognizing the portrait reflecting on the metal cylinder? The interesting thing about such hidden portraits, if the author is professional enough, you can’t distinguish them just by looking at the original canvas. Only after placing the reflective object (metal cylinder in this case) at the proper spot, the hidden image occurs. Back in the old days this was very popular method to include forbidden motives, that normally wouldn’t be accepted. Expect more similar examples in days to come… off course, if you approve these as regular optical illusions.

54 Replies to “Anamorphic Portrait Optical Illusion”

  1. The portrait is E. A. Poe, author of “The Raven”. But how is this even possible? I don’t understand.

  2. Correct, it is Edger Allen Poe, major clue is the Raven in the drawing.
    Rick Wakeman (of YES band) had a record cover and label on the vinyl disc that when on the record player, the silver spindle would reflect his image in proper proportions.

  3. Yes, it is Edgar Alan Poe. But I agree with Annabelle Lee…How is this possible? How is this done? Amazing??

    1. The major clue is the cylinder. The objects around it get compressed because of the roundness of the cylinder, therefore becoming E.A. Poe.

  4. Turning the Raven into Edgar Allen Poe is awesome!! Love this one so much. (He’s a favorite author of mine.)

  5. These are so fascinating. I feel like Alice in Through the Looking Glass where nothing is what it seems to be but if you look at it in a certain way it all comes clear.

  6. Poe was a literary genius, but unfortuantely his muse usually resided in a bottle of absinth or an opium pipe. The picture here is not only an interesting illusion, but seems to reflect what may have been going on in that troubled mind.

  7. Awesome. Can’t believe the time it took the artist to draw the distorted table image to actually look like Poe in the reflection. Its the reverse carnival mirror concept, if you acually looked like an odd shape, you’d look normal in the mirror. Stare long enough at the table, you can start seeing the elongated Poe face stretched across half the table. Amazing, anxious to see more!

  8. @Annabelle Lee: First of all, very nice to use a Poe title as your monicker for this response.

    The way this works is that the rounded surface of the cylinder essentially condenses and un-curves the image from the table top. It is kind of the reverse of how a map gets distorted when projected from a globe onto a flat surface. Just as Greenland looks way bigger than it really is on the flat map, Poe’s face is totally stretched out on the flat surface (and in this case, it is made of implements and instruments, too).

  9. i have always found it interesting and hard as to making those. but it seems impossible to even start to do one.

  10. @Annabelle Lee … you ever stand in front of one of those crazy funhouse mirrors? … your reflection looks weird because the mirror takes a normal image and distorts it to look weird … this is the opposite … the cylinder mirror is taking an already weird image and “distorting” it to look normal

  11. I think the tight curve of the metal cylinder somehow condenses the objects in front of it in its reflection . . . which produces the portrait illusion.
    More please! These illusions are great!

  12. Some of the more ancient among you may remember the 1970’s as the heyday of LP album cover art. In 1976 Rick Wakeman released “No Earthly Connection” the cover of which had a similar concept. It came with a silver sheet of mylar that was to be rolled into a reflective cylinder and then placed in the center of the album cover. See it here:

  13. This is really cool- you can even kind of see where his eyes and nose are on the drawing. Can’t imagine how you create this

  14. Very nice illusion, like how its a raven (signalling his book) on the table, and then it shows him on the cylinder (because he is the author)

    Cool illusion.

  15. its not realy a trick… its a tube… that or its shopped.
    theres no way thats possible, nothing in the birds eye view accounts for the portrait, nor is there any reason the man lying down would be obscured…

  16. vurdlak, or vudlark i cant remember… delete my comment i didnt realize you explained it… i should read first…

  17. I like how the artist drew the background, not just the mirror illusion.
    The artist is tired after looking up the classic question – What’s the difference between a raven and a crow?
    I also noticed the “bust of Pallas” on the floor.
    The mirror looks a bit fake, though, and the raven on Poe’s chest looks strange.

  18. The album for the soundtrack of the movie Lisztomania contained an insert with an image like this. It came with a reflective sheet that you would make into a cylinder.

  19. Really “Vurdlak”? You are allegedly a fan of optical illusions, and didn’t look closely at both images? The artist is studying how to draw RAVENS, and the wonderful thing about it is some of the artist tools are laid out in such a way as to make the face of Edgar Alan Poe when reflected in the mirror.

  20. Yes, defenitely Edgar Allen Poe , not only the author of ‘The Raven’ but many more poems and stories of ‘The Bloodchilling Kind’

    I noticed that the image on the cylinder is made up bij the ‘tools of the trade’ of the writer

  21. I used to have a little paperback book about the size of a magazine that had these type of pictures in it. It also came with the “mirror” which was a heavy, reflective paper of some kind that you rolled up and taped. There were probably a couple dozen of these pictures, some portraits, but others were just landscapes or still life. It was pretty neat though and you might still be able to find them.

  22. Wow, this one is just amazing. I love how the artist managed to make the whole picture fit even when your not looking at the reflective cup, and how he/she even incorporated the cup into the picture!


  23. I see a beautifully drawn picture and the image of poe and I get the concept of the reflected image but I dont see it as an illusion feel like I am missing something

  24. the tube look to be part OF the drawing.. the texture of the tube looks like that of the paper and the rest of the art piece. Someone explain to me, how the tube looks metal, and seperate piece. I think its all one big drawing to mimick aan illusion.

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