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By on July 12, 2009, with 113 Comments

Before we start with fresh content, I’d like to encourage you all to use “Facebook Connect” button more often (when posting your comments). Probably you’ve also noticed that our comments section now includes profile photos. The problem is that very few actually took the time to set their profile photo. By using Facebook commenting system, your photos are automatically shown. This reduces the number of boring anonymous comments, and increases uniqueness inside your comments. If you aren’t such a Facebook fan, you can still grab your own Gravatar, and set your unique picture. Check it out! I’m sure you’ll love it.

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.

Relative Coffee Cups

Are these cups different in size?

Comments

113 Responses
  1. calvin says:

    the cube is a drawing on the paper and
    the 2 cups are just seperated from each other
    or spreat apart from each other
    both cups are the xact same

  2. calvin says:

    also the 2 cups are NOT diff in size
    they r the SAME size

  3. Answer : Yes. Using my simple method of measuring the small one with my fingers and comparing that to the larger one, I can say (Without a doubt) that they are different sizes.

  4. Okay, I’ll go for the obvious – yep they are the exact same size.

  5. Stiggy says:

    They are both the same size in real life, one is just further away, making it look smaller. It’s not an illusion in the slightest, it’s just perception.

  6. i measured them, guys..

    the right one, is two times the left one :)

    don’t try to fool us, Vurdlak! Heheh :D

  7. Awesome says:

    No, they’re the same size. The “smaller” one is placed farther back and on top of the drawing of a cube (which, like the illusional chalk drawings, appears to be 3D when you stand at a certain angle).

  8. CristianCP says:

    Yeah, they look different sizes, but the cube on the table looks like that 3D Drawings, and the “small” cup is just near to the edge of the table.
    sorry if my english is bad, i’m brazilian!

  9. Why says:

    Different sizes, and if you think they’re the same, you’re a retard.

  10. Lynzi says:

    No they aren’t the same, but I would compare them the same way I would two triangles with the same angles and different side lengths. They are similar coffee cups.

  11. james says:

    they are the same size one is closer to the camera the other is on a 3d drawing of a cube

  12. Casey says:

    Calvin is right, they are the exact same size. The cube is a drawing and the cup that looks smaller is farther away.

  13. Grolix says:

    in real world both cups are the same size, only 1 is in the foreground and 1 in the background

    in the picture the right cup is obviously bigger

  14. KReatz says:

    Going by pure measurements in 2D, no, they are of different sizes.
    Going by relative measurements of the cube, no, they are different sizes. One is approximately 1 1/2 block size, and the other 2 1/2 size.

    BUT… going by the wrongly shadowed cube, I would say that the cube is a drawing, and the cups are of the same size.

  15. WorldCitizeN says:

    In reality they are the same size. The “small one” is further that the “big one” and on a drawing as calvin suggested. This way the “small” looks small and on a cube, where it is the same size but further..
    …or something like that! :)

  16. Fergus Gallagher says:

    Yes, the “dud” edges and lines of the cube are a giveaway. Also compare the directions (and number) of the shadows of the cups and box.

    So answer is, they certainly could be the same size. Or the far one could even be larger.

  17. Sergio says:

    The cube is obviusly a picture. The cups are same size, but one is nearer than the other. One detail: The light is over the cups, but the cube shadow is on its left ;-)

  18. Hanna Bouma says:

    In this picture the cups SEEM to have different sizes. But if you look close, you can see that the cube not real is but drawn.And so you can figure that the cups are the same size-in reality, that is…

  19. On the picture they’re not, but it is an real picture, so no photoshop or anything. The cube, and it’s shadow are drawn on the surface on which both cups are standing. The left one, a bit further away from the camera and in such a position that it seems as if it was on top of the cube.

  20. Facebook User says:

    I just have no idea.. i don’t see how that is a illusion?

  21. qqqq says:

    *spoiler*
    see that brown sheet of parer that everything is sitting on?
    the cube thingy is just drawn on it.
    then the “smaller” cup was set farther away on the paper, giving the allusion that it is set ontop of the cube.
    but the two cups are the same size, just the “smaller” one was set farther away :)

  22. qqqq says:

    illusion** sorry :P
    and u can tell that it is drawn, because the angle of the shadow of the cube, doesnt match the angle of the shadow on the cups :P

  23. Facebook User says:

    Oh I see – the cups appear to be next to each other but at different heights and different sizes. But they are really the same size and one is farther away than the other.

  24. cgimusic says:

    In real life they are the same size. One is further away than the other. This is hardly an illusion. In the picture they appear different sizes. This happens as the light is almost “collected” in to a point in our eyes. The further away something is the less light comes from it and the more light comes from its surroundings. Wikipedia says “If two objects are known to be the same size (e.g., two trees) but their absolute size is unknown, relative size cues can provide information about the relative depth of the two objects. If one subtends a larger visual angle on the retina than the other, the object which subtends the larger visual angle appears closer.”

  25. Anonymous says:

    I think they are different sizes.

  26. Cara says:

    The cups are both in line with the corner of the cube so they are both the same distance from the viewer. The handle is not visible on the left cup but it is visible on the right cup. The diameter of the left saucer measures 1-1/2 inches and the right saucer measures 3-1/2 inches on my monitor. So I conclude the cups are different sizes, the right one being larger.

  27. Flor says:

    I don’t know if the cups are same size, but this cube looks fake.

  28. I think the finger is an excellent measuring tool! They are NOT the same! Never ASSuME. LOL

  29. Katelyn says:

    Yes, same size. I have the same reasoning as calvin. :)

  30. Tim says:

    Perhaps in real life they are the same size. On the screen, they are clearly different sizes. Doesn’t really seem like much of an illusion, at least without more explanation or another picture from a different angle.

  31. Anjay says:

    Its not to do with the size of the cups and saucers, it their relative position. The white cube is drawn on the brown piece of paper. Both cups and saucers are on the same level, with one being further away and therefore smaller. They are placed on the picture to give the illusion that one is ‘higher’ than the other – whereas they are on the same flat surface.

  32. ¬¬´ says:

    I´´m not sure, but I like Timothy Collins answer I do it same xdd´

  33. FredSchlonz says:

    They are the same size as they are both real cups and the rest ist a plain surface, both cups are placed on.

    or …….

    Only the cup in front is real while the rest is plain ???

  34. Grant Davis says:

    Yes, they are quite different in size and I cannot see any illusion I’m afraid. I’m not sure if the cube has any bearing on anything here.

  35. BraDRoBBo says:

    More explanation is needed tbh:P what exactly are you asking, do they LOOK the same? Are they the same? well no they’re not the same size… unless of course you mean IN THAT 3D WORLD,, then yes they are because i think the cube is fake,,,, and just a drawing or something… so yeah… but the closest cup to us is definitely bigger in size in the 2d image

  36. Mariya says:

    The brown piece of paper on the wood floor has a cube drawn onto it. one cup is close to the camera and the other (of equal size) is set far from the camera on top of the picture of the cube giving the illusion that the cup is actually on top of an actual cube. The mugs are indeed the same size.

  37. mrboma says:

    I think calvin is correct. The cube is a drawing, and the second cup is in the background, which is why it appears smaller. In life, the cups are the same size, but in the photo they appear different. This is an example of the technique known as forced perspective. It was used in some scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies to make the Hobbits look smaller than the other chracters without having to digitally alter things.

  38. Triarii says:

    I think I was trying to over complicate it. It was so obvious to me that the other cup was further away, and not raised on the “cube”, and that the cube was just a drawing – that I just spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out what the optical illusion was. Lol.

  39. lilapolly says:

    if they where the same size it would not ba a illusion

  40. Carys says:

    To me it looks like two cups the same size at either set apart on a table with a cube painted on it; the cube looks like a drawing, not a real cube, because the way the shadows fall doesn’t match the cups’ shadows at all.

  41. Midna says:

    Ooh, that’s very cool. I believe the cube is painted on the table (it’s not 3D). The smaller-looking cup is farther away on the table, but it appears close because it is on top of the cube. I say this, but it still seems like they’re different sizes when you look at them.

  42. Tim says:

    This is a photo of two identical cups sitting on a piece of paper that has a 3D cube painted onto it. I don’t believe that it has been photo-shopped at all.

    The illusion is that our brains tell us that the right hand cup is a giant cup, and the left hand cup is a tiny cup. In other words, our brains tell us that if the cups were pictured side by side, the one on the right would be larger than the one on the left. But in fact they would be exactly the same size.

    Which I think is just another way of wording what Calvin said.

    Clearly it’s not an illusion like those ones of the identical cars along a road that look like they are getting larger as they go back.

    It’s more in the style of the 3D pavement chalk drawings.

    What I would love to see is the same image photographed from a different angle, say, from the side. I think that would highlight the exact nature of the illusion.

    Who knows, perhaps I will rig up my own version of this and post a few photos! ;-)

  43. Alexia Conte says:

    Yess, same size… Thanks to the visible paper on the parque-floor it’s easier! It would have been cooler if they tried to hide it :-)

  44. Neil says:

    I remembered seeing something that reminds me of the same illusion:
    http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/littlelarge.html

  45. Thias Esseboom says:

    Well yes maybe that they are the exact same size

  46. Erick Coria San Luis says:

    Ok, I just opened the image in Paint and I concluded that the cups are different sizes! Of course, the finbgers measurement might also do the trick… and it is easier. Duh for me.

    By the way, I just used the Facebook button!!

    Yeah!!! Love your site! I visit it daily!!! Thanks iGoogle and Mighty Optical Illusions!!

  47. lifeguard says:

    No,
    The right one is much bigger.

  48. Crystal says:

    Go Tim ;D!
    I feel sorry for the people who don’t understand the “cube” is just a drawing.

    Another way to tell is the shadow on the cube is extremely long while the shadow on the cup and saucer to the right show that the lighting must be from above.
    The two shadows do not match.

  49. Cody says:

    OMG! People who think that the cups are different and used their fingers or Paint or something else to measure them on the screen are just so stupid. I’m sorry for being harsh, but have you actually used your brain before writing that. I swear, you should be cited in the Stupidity Encyclopedia. This is the matter of perspective which gives us an optical illusion. It doesn’t matter if the cups are different on the screen, what matters is the way they are in REALITY and in reality they a re exactly the same. Read ‘calvin’ for details!

  50. Tristan says:

    “calvin” – You’re spot on.
    “KReatz” – Kudis for pointing out the false shadow that further verifies calvin.
    “Why” – You’re a moron, and have the arrogance to back it up.

  51. Tristan says:

    *Kudos

  52. madBOX20 says:

    seeing as we can only tell if the two are the same size from a 2d picture. they are not the same size. you can’t tell depth and perception in 2d form. so comparing the two cups they ARE NOT the same size. we can assume that they are by knowing the cube is really a piece of paper and the smaller cup is father away but we can’t know if they are the same size or not.

  53. Melissa Beall says:

    I’m going to second what first-poster Calvin has said. I didn’t notice it at first, but that box really it just a flat object and the cups are separated by horizontal, not vertical, distance.

  54. Ramy Jaber says:

    in reference to each other and/or to their surroundings they are the same size.

    in the picture each cup has the same measurements by counting cublets on the cube.

    in the 2D of drawings however they are indeed different sizes.

  55. oktor says:

    even if this is 3D the two cups are different in size. the small one is NOT further back it is ELEVATED. if you look at the relationship of the two cups locations against the cube you find they are both the same distance from the camera.

    2D or 3D one cup is small the other large.

  56. Paul says:

    It’s just a matter of perspective.
    The 2 cups are on a table and a drwaing of a 3D cube is also made on this table.
    Check out this drawing:
    http://www.mypicx.com/07132009/trick/

    Not very accurate (with MS Paint :-) ), but you can see that the perspective of the table goes to 1 point (blue lines). From this point you have to draw 2 lines (red) to the outer size of the cups. And if you compare the width between these lines at a certain point (the green lines), you can see that they’re actually of the same length.
    This proves both cups are in fact of the same size.

    Hope people understand what I’m trying to explain, my english is not that great :-)
    But it really proves they’re the same size. This is the only way you can tell for sure!!

  57. Rob says:

    Too bad the shadows don’t match. Besides that it’s a nice riddle.

  58. oliver says:

    ok
    1) very cool
    2) the cups are the same size
    3) the cube is a drawing making it seem 3D
    4) the ‘smaller’ cup is just put at the end of the drawing, as if it was on the ‘cube’

  59. Alice Lewin says:

    I agree with Calvin, the cube is a drawing on a piece of paper which is on the floor. The two cups are several feet apart and the same size.

  60. Spider says:

    Vurdlak, reading some comments and suggestions on previous days (previous illusions) I now definitely agree that you do need to hire a writer.

    Now nothing personal here. I like you, I like this website and I like this particular illusion. But you didn’t present it right with your words. Hence some people (looking at comments in THIS post/illusion) didn’t get it. Or got it but didn’t even think it’s an illusion, just simple perception.

    Some people do get it that the key of the illusion is actually the 3D drawing of the cube. It’s not a real cube, but a 3D drawing of a cube to make the (seemingly) smaller cup appear to be on top of it, when the cup is actually the same size and on the same level of height (not higher) with the “big” cup, only placed farther away so it seems smaller.

    It’s a good illusion, but it would’ve gotten better response it deserved if you’d give it a better foreword.

    Just my two cents, pal. Hope you appreciate it.

  61. whitney says:

    NICE!
    i took 10 seconds to figure it out!
    =D

  62. OP says:

    The illusion is that this is a real photo (unedited), of two cups, both the same size in real life, one of which is meant to look smaller and on top of a three dimensional cube, when in reality both are on a flat surface.

  63. It kinda reminds me of the guy that draws the chalk perspective images in the streets. Cups are the same size

    also checking to see how the Facebook image thing works… and yes, I can see my picture

  64. Anonamous says:

    Both the same size as the cube is a drawing that looks 3-d and the left cup is further back therefore it looks a smaller.

    You are cool if you agree ^_^
    if you dont (like Tim collins) then…… o_O

  65. MajorWebUser says:

    First, this shouldn’t qualify as an “illusion” as the perspective does exactly what we it should when translating 3D to 2D.

    Second, the shadowing of the cube is all wrong compared to the cups. It introduces a third light source that isn’t represented in the rest of the picture.

    This one is pretty lame.

  66. Tyler Goll says:

    I think I’ve got it:

    The closest cup is from an Ancient Polynesian archeological dig site, and the furthest one was bought at a local thrift store, for about 50 cents.
    Since they are identical we can only be left to assume that the Ancient Polynesian culture was indubitably far more wide spread than modern anthropologists initially concluded.

    As for the 2 dimensional Rubik’s cube, it makes a pretty nice table by the looks of it.

    P.S. for those of you who don’t realize, I am completely joking, as this illusion has already been solved. ;-)

  67. calvin says:

    timothy collins

  68. ranfae says:

    same size.

    the cube is a drawing on the brown paper.

    angle of the shadow drawn on the paper dos not match the shadow on two cups.

    the ‘smaller’ cup is simply further away from the camera.

  69. egdirbr says:

    lame and very poorly done

  70. Judith Mann Korupp says:

    We can not know. None of us.
    Apart from a confusing drawing of a cube with a shadow in the wrong direction we have got no means to presume a relation here.
    So I am surprised how many ppl apart from the jesters are able to give a smart and definite NO or YES while we have such an excusable reason to capitulate :-)

  71. Antorove says:

    Both are the same sizes, the thing is that are using a visual effect tring to make you think the are in the same position, but they arent, they are far, and the cube fisically doesnt exist there, it is a paper draw.

    How to know, look at the shadows!!

  72. Nebbit says:

    I’d imagine the cups are the same size, but because the one on the left is further away… but still, i can kind of see the cube drawn on the paper… but now my head hurts so thanks…

  73. George says:

    This is a photo. Look at the table and cups and the light reflections and the shadows. The cubes are a drawing. It is unlikely this photographer would have two identically painted, yet different sized cups and saucers to take a picture of. Therefore, the cups are the same size as each other.

  74. Samuel Norbury says:

    Nice one, I really like it, I hadn’t seen that the cube was a drawing, at first :D

  75. Lib says:

    Whoa… that sugar cube won’t fit in the cup, even the big one!

  76. matt says:

    its an illusion and illusions answers dont arent based on mesurements. and for those of you that think they are different sizes illusions are supposed to trick your mind into thinking what you see is the real size or an impossible thing.

  77. David Redman says:

    The one in the back is missing its handle or perhaps it is turned so the handle is not seen. The issue is that there is no coffee in either of them.

  78. Pete Hat says:

    same size. simple.

  79. Care Bear says:

    Of course they’re the same. Otherwise it wouldn’t qualify as an optical illusion. ;-)

  80. ebbhyen says:

    They are different. There are two illusions. The one with the cube. The second with the cup placement. For the opening of the closer cup to be the size and angle it is, the table would have to be bent. You would not be able to lay a ruler flat across the top of the two cups.

  81. The Cube is Drawn on the table, while YES the cups are the same size.

  82. Tofu Mogu says:

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

  83. Psychadelic Steve says:

    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.

  84. 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

  85. 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.

  86. 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.

  87. 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…

  88. 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.

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. 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!

  92. 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….

  93. 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

  94. 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.

  95. Zerro says:

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

  96. 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.

  97. Isadora says:

    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.

  98. 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!

  99. Anton says:

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

  100. Lolzater=] says:

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

  101. Lolzater=] says:

    *those
    :L

  102. Kamil says:

    ….
    *these
    :L

  103. 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.

  104. qwertyelna says:

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

  105. 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!

  106. 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

  107. 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

  108. Hawaii Shay GGrl says:

    they are to scale models of each other.

  109. 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.

  110. trinity w says:

    This one is really fun to look at :-)

  111. 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!

  112. 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)

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