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By on May 1, 2006, with 75 Comments

These people figured out some way of doing an incredibly distorted drawing so that when they stood a reflective cylinder (cylinder mirror) in the middle of it, the reflection showed the picture as intended. One of these is of Mission San Rafael, the exact view you’d see if I tilted my Nikon digital camera up – Escher portrait lyes inside this photo. Don’t forget that other photos are inside of this post. Just click on the title to go inside. This image below is Istvan Orovitz’s Anamorphic Art. It is called Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. At first glance, the image looks like a shipwreck on a weird-looking island. When a cylinder is put on the print, the reflection looks like Jules Verne!

Cylinder Mirror Optical Illusion
Cylinder Mirror Optical Illusion
Cylinder Mirror Optical Illusion
Cylinder Mirror Optical Illusion
Cylinder Mirror Optical Illusion


75 Responses
  1. Blackbeardius says:

    One word. Totally Awesome. Oops.

  2. Dmitriy Chernoshey says:

    If you can draw portraits and other things well, you can do this by first placing the reflecting cylinder on a designated spot on your paper and creating a drawing while looking at the cylinder to see where the pencil goes. Takes some time to get used to, but for any drawing artist it is definitely something to explore.

  3. Mag_nit says:

    quite a thing! …maaan

  4. eric says:

    I’m not sure if the difference here is that a digital camera is (might be?) involved, but these have been around for many many years. I first became aware of them from an issue of World Magazine (National Geographic’s kids magazine) in the late 70s-early 80s, and they portrayed them in an antiqued fashion. They also had projects to make your own, and while some (like these) used a cylinder, there are others that are drawn to use a mirrored cone.

  5. Andy says:

    Done in history to hide allegiences with individuals or groups. The painting can look like a landscape, but it can be a portrait of a king, or leader.

  6. John says:

    Awesome! This isn’t actually new though. There was a computer book or magazine from the 80′s that discussed this, the mathematics, and gave some sample code that could convert normal coordinates to cylindrical ones for drawing these programatically. I wish I could remember exactly where I saw it.

  7. Gabriel says:

    That’s so genius, maybe some day I’ll try my hand at those!

  8. Christopher says:

    Wow, that’s amazing!

  9. JohnnyRnR says:

    Who did these drawings? Where did this story come from?

  10. ykmh says:

    These are usually called anamorphic images, although the name is also applied to other forms of distortion.

    It is historically famous as a way of hiding a picture of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Some striking modern images by the Hungarian artist Orovitz cann be found at:

    Instructions for making your own, and a link to some software to do it for you are at:

    For other forms of anamorphic distorion, try this page as a lead-in to more fascinating examples:

  11. ykmh says:

    Sorry, my browser wouldn’t give me “Preview” but went straight through when I hit “Post” and found a spelling mistake simultaneously.

  12. Alan says:

    Very nice effect!

  13. JIm says:

    You can do that in Photoshop

  14. EBurtJ says:

    This is better than the time I saw the image of the Taco Bell chihuahua reflected off a kosher bagel dog.

  15. JD says:

    Wow. Jim is so amazing! From Photoshop he can create an image with a physical glass cylinder on it. He can create physical matter from digital software. I don’t remember that option in Photoshop.

  16. Rolf says:

    I had a Rick Wakeman (of Yes) vinyl that had one of these on the cover – I think it was the album Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

    The album came with a flat square of silver plastic to make the tube with and if you put the tube in place and looked down the centre there was another image reflected on the inside.

    I had forgotten about that album, I hope I can get a CD of it!

  17. Rolf says:

    Update – Found out tha RW album was ‘No Earthly Connection’ and I probably wont find it on CD but can get a vinyl copy from Amazon for about £50!! (Ouch)

    I think I’ll be digging out my old vinyls and crossing my fingers!

    Anyone with an MP3 to share? Write me at Rolf@ the provided web address, pls. (Sorry to go off topic)

  18. yee wei says:

    W . o . W !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. paul says:

    very nice think il have a go

  20. Yoo says:

    wah its nice but hard to build ………….

  21. nagu says:

    excellent work

  22. Elaine says:

    complex, skillful, not entirely impossible, but very well done. wkd!

  23. John says:

    great job !!!!!

  24. Flash Gordon says:

    When linking to a larger image, the image really should be LARGER!

  25. xXx says:

    JIm ur a dikg#head these kind of drawings take a long time to produse and you simply say you can make them in potoshop well can u do 1 den??

  26. Lottie says:

    very impressive but very confusing

  27. Farrukh says:

    It can be done a bit easier this way…

    Take a cone first, paint any image on it.

    Roll the cone on a paper so paint sticks to the paper, it will rotate as if a car turns if one wheel is slower and other is faster when turning…

    Then take a cylinder of same radius as cone’s base side…

    You will see the same image drawn on the paper…

  28. Tim says:

    xXx even if he can’t do one, at least he can spell.

  29. Jeff says:

    Jim, Jim,JIm, I think what you can do in photoshop is turn a regular photo or drawing INTO a cylinder…this is quite different my naive little friend

  30. Cornelius says:

    these pictures remind me of a young John Stamos or early enrique inglesias, as the once world rnound backstreet boys said, I never wanna here you say I wat it that way, which reflects the meaning of these pictures in a whole

  31. hilary says:

    these thins r alrite but u need loads more 2 impress me!

  32. grace says:

    twould be tough to do

  33. jennifer says:

    oh nice!!!!!!!!!!

  34. big MIKE says:

    My Co worker ‘little’ kevin thinks your work is AWESOME!
    Though we have alot of work to do and need his help, so can you take down your site for the next couple of hours so we can get back to work?

  35. maiko says:

    Hello, I were moved with this image greatly at this time that was a Japanese

  36. schmucko dingle says:


  37. lulu says:

    um its a cup.

  38. esgic says:

    Take care of it and keep it on the road!

  39. Hai says:

    i did this in school b4 and to Dmitriy Chernoshey: ummm, no its not like that. u draw your picture on a numbered graph paper. then u use a special stretched-out graph paper and copy your picture on2 it and make sure the numbers correspond. it may be confusing now but if u see it in person you’ll understand.

  40. computers says:

    Interesting, but navigation system is a little bit confusing

  41. garZon says:

    I can do this with any picture in photoshop send me a link here and I will do it with yours. It is cool and has been around since the 17th century. Now we can do it with a digital image.

  42. vurdlak says:

    can you contact me garZon?

  43. Debizzle says:

    There’s one on Rick Wakemans “No Earthly Connection” LP,
    Snazzy “Free Gift”

  44. Laura says:

    woah, cool

  45. Dmitriy Chernoshey says:

    To Hai
    Well, I do not require graph papers to draw, I use my eyes and the reflective object. Just like Futureboy here. Although your method seems logical, it is not the only one. I sometimes do fun things while faux painting for customers and one of the general methods used is “tromp d’oeil”, or “fool the eye”, which includes effects presented here. I recently painted a small tabletop with a portrait of a customer’s family member visible on a cylindrical chrome vase, it later became his birthday gift. Pretty expensive one for them, too, I might add.

  46. sombody random says:

    An easy way to do this would be to get a string, tie it to the pencil, and put a drawing pin into where the centre of the cylinder would be, ad tie the other end of the string to that, and then you have a long range compass. Then draw all your horizontal lines with your compass and the vertical lines would just be straight. Then, you put the cylinder where the drawing pin was, and there you have it! though i dont know how to do the curves… but at least you can draw pic 4…

  47. Pandas says:

    that is just weird. i dont think i have ever seen that before

  48. SuperDuperMoocherMan says:

    i have to admit this site is amazing it is phenominal that people do this andhow accurately they did it

  49. Jesusfreak says:

    This is a great mix of distortion and mirror usage. As you can tell that just certain details had to be added to make the face show up on the cylinder while also making the original picture make sense. This is a great work of art and there has definately been some good brains working here.

  50. aggie/longhorns fan says:

    2 words totaly awsome

  51. Feather says:

    there’s got to be like, a complicated mathematical equation involved for that. it’s awesome, though.

  52. mexico says:

    this are great images… i specially enjoyed the one of julius vern… you could do this by puting a cylinder over a normal picture and coping the image that you see in the cylinder… its something every artist should definitly try…by the way i have been browsing through this page thanks to ma illusion of the day widget in my mac and i absolutly loove the page…great job guys and greetings from mexico.

  53. Anonymous says:

    it’s called animorphic art, and it’s awesome
    One way to do it is draw a picture on a grid that’s marked A, B, C… on one side and 1, 2, 3… on the other. Then draw your picture. Then draw your picture ona curved paper with another grid, using the regular one to help you draw

  54. Anonymous says:

    yea they did this on a show called Treasure Hunters…its kewl

  55. Anonymous says:


  56. **~**AAAQueen**~** says:

    I think Blackbeardius means two words.Still, TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!

  57. Anonymous says:

    the concept may not be new, but the pictures still amaze me. I’ve always been really impressed with Eschers’ work. A very talented man of his time and for time eternal.

  58. Jheese says:

    I could kind of see the guys’ faces in the pic, but they were all stretchy Px

  59. Andrea says:

    I must be missing something… I don’t find this illusion amazing at all. I too can draw a picture and stick a metal cup in the middle!

  60. kenny b says:

    wow all i can say is wow…

  61. Matt says:

    the 4th 1 IS an optical illusion

  62. Anon says:

    I once had a harry potter jigsaw similar to this. Wacky to put together, but as soon as you put in the cylinder it looks awesome.

  63. the comment thats the best says:

    pip pip padoodaly doo

  64. I_Ganked_JFK says:

    BEST ONE SO FAR!!!! this is awsome, cant quite figure out what the 3rd image makes in the metal thingy

  65. Shawn says:

    The third one looks like a portrait of Einstein (to me). I could be wrong.

  66. kate says:

    great! do you know where i can get one of those cylinders?

  67. Nush says:

    You have to go to L’espace Dali (The Dali Museum)in Montmatre, Paris. There are some more cylindrical mirror optical allusions.

  68. Anna says:

    how did they do it?? with the man’s face..

  69. u bum says:

    i keep seein faces on the cups

  70. Mel says:

    Salvador Dali has some great stuff like this!

  71. c says:

    This is so coo!

  72. c says:

    oops i mean cool! :}

  73. Mr.Tjackson says:

    This “illusion” was on a show a magic show a month ago…
    The woman went in the shop she bought a cd hid it in a bag but the magician did not know what the compact disc was and then he picked up a mirror about 5 foot wide and asked two men to hold it in a cylinder shape in the shoppin centre and he placd down a giant card an the the picture on the compact disk matched the one on the mirror.

    Mr.Tobi jackson
    13 ***** road
    postcode:** ***

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