The Scream Illusion

Anyone recognizes the painting on the left? It is one of the most famous paintings called “The Scream“. When I was a young kid, I thought it was painted by Van Gogh, but I was terribly wrong. Do you know the name of the original artist? Well, I received this variation in my mailbox yesterday. It was sent by Joey Kuna including explanation: “I found this on one of my friend’s myspace and just thought it was cool the way it seems to move just from inverting color. It’s a small image but feel free to use it if you want.”

The animation gives you impression of clouds floating, faces growing and backgrounds changing – In fact it’s just a simple composition of just a few frames, and inverted colors. We’ve seen many similar illusions in the past on this site. I’m still on the island of Korcula, so please be patient in your wait for new illusions.

211 Replies to “The Scream Illusion”

  1. thats not a real illusion. if you look at it frame by frame, the clouds actually do move. please check out the authenticity of the pics before you post them.

  2. weird… why is everything moving (or seem to move…)? oh.. and i hate that flashing… i think i’m the first one…

  3. “The Scream” (Skrik) is of course painted by the norwegian artist Edvard Munch. A few years ago it was stolen from the Munch-museum i Oslo, but it has now returned (a bit damaged).

  4. Author of this painting is Edvard Munch, Norwegian expressionist/symbolist painter born in 1863. The title of this painting is “The Scream”, painted in 1893.

  5. It doesn’t just seem to move, it’s an animated gif. If you look at the individual slices there are 2 different positives and 2 different negatives, each slightly shifted.

  6. My perception is very good, and I could tell the image actually IS moving, not just inverting. The illusion of movement is not an illusion, it’s real. The “illusion” here is believing there is an illusion! :-P Go extract the frames of this GIF yourself! There are 4 of them :-)

    Furthermore, just so people know, even if it were only two frames consisting of ONLY an inversion of color and there appeared to be movement.. there still very well may actually be movement (with CRT monitors). The screen literally distorts (enlarges/stretches) when going from black to white. Try flashing black and white fullscreen very quickly, you will notice the sides of your screen literally bulge out on the white frames.


  7. The painter’s name is Edvard Munch and The Scream had been stole few years ago. I believed they found it recently, but it is n a very bad condition now. That’s sad.

    Anyway, the illusion is quite fun!

  8. Edvard Munch is the artist.

    Really neat illusion i has to watch for awhile to make sure there wasn’t something tricky goin on.

  9. I found a picture of “The Scream” in my neurologists’ office. The writing that went with it described how it feels to have chronic migraines.
    Having chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia myself, I’d be the first to say the picture is a perfect description of the horrors of both syndromes.

  10. Vurdlak, you HAVE to get us a new illusion soon! At least just ONE more so I don’t have to look at this dizzying image on my widgets for 2 weeks!! I’m going to puke on my screen!


  11. wow! i love what’s been done to the painting… it’s made it a really cool illusion. nice job! anyway, the scream was painted by Norwegian artist, Edvard Munch.

  12. i definitely find this just slightly disturbing. i love the painting, and already felt it was a perfect way to describe fear, despair, oppression, and the like. when you add the crazy color changes with inversion of colors, its just amplified. its hard on the eyes after a while. i do enjoy it however

    btw artist = edward munch
    and he was norwegian painted in 1893 in national gallery of oslo norway.

  13. Reminds me of some basic animation techniques. This is pretty cool. Thanks (as always) for posting all these really neat and often amazing works. You’ve become a daily trek!

  14. hah cool the face growing is best bit. and the way the clouds flow and appear to be continuous. the fence bit looks a bit crap though.

  15. Hey,, this painting was made by norwegian painter Edward Munch around 1893, and is actually painted in two versions. Munch made the picture after a strange expererience he had during a walk, where he suddenly had the feeling of a terryfying scream from everything in the nature around him. One of the two versions was stolen some years ago, and suffered so much damage, that it could not be repaired.

  16. I loved this image so much that I am going to use it on a post dedicated on fear and the jornalism lack of freedom in countries like Iran.

    I have been enjoying your blog since I first found it and have just linked it.

    Keep on the good work! :-)

  17. Scream (Skrik, 1893) is a seminal series of expressionist paintings by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. It is said by some to symbolize the human species overwhelmed by an attack of existential angst.[1] The landscape in the background is Oslofjord, viewed from the hill of Ekeberg. The Norwegian word skrik is usually translated as “scream”, but is cognate with the English shriek. Occasionally, the painting has been called The Cry.

    A (66 x 83.5 cm) version of this piece appears in the Munch Museum, Oslo, Norway (see gallery), and an oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard (measuring 91 x 73.5 cm) in the National Gallery of Norway (shown to right). A third version is also owned by the Munch Museum, and a fourth is owned by Norwegian billionaire Petter Olsen. Munch later also translated the picture into a lithograph (see gallery), so the image could be reproduced in reviews all over the world. Since 1994, two separate versions of Scream have been stolen by art thieves, but both were eventually recovered.
    from wikipedia

  18. This is pretty cool. I actually have this print hanging in my house. The original artists’name is Edvard Munch *Last name pronounced Munk*

  19. Ooooooooooo! That is ever so slightly hynotising. I can’t look at it or else I watch it for ages. The original artist was Edvard Munch and I used to think it was a Van Gogh too. That is one seriously cool animation.

  20. I am assuming the web author knows the artist’s name is Edward Munch (sometimes Edvard Munch); a Norwegian expressionist painter, I believe in the late 1800’s. According to wikipedia the Scream was composed in 1893. This “illusion” is pretty cool, but I am curious as to the comment, “In fact it’s just a simple composition of just a few frames…” Does anyone know exactly how many. I think my eye can discern three.

  21. That illusion is going to drive me insane!!! …I looked at it for 3 seconds and had more than enough. This one is a real nerve wrecker!

  22. The mystery painter was Edvard Munch. Where is everybody? No comments in 2 days . . . . I guess everyone’s on vacation, btw hope you’re having an awesome time Vurdlak.

  23. This painting was done my Edvard Munch. If you want to take a look at several drawings that mess with your eyes, check into MC Escher. For his painting, Waterfall (, everything is shaded by using steppling ( I find that totally mind boggling. I have just started in the past month or so viewing this site, so I dont know if you have posted any of his work in the past.

  24. The artists name is edvard munch… he was an expressionist artist. It is commonly seen as a visual response to agoraphobia… fear of wide open spaces.

  25. The painter’s name is Edward munch, he comes from Norway and has painted a lot of other pictures worthy of beeing seen….

  26. Okay, the artist who created ‘The Scream’ is named Edvard Munch. Secondly, the animation has four frames. It is not moving just from invertion alone. Watch the distant people if you don’t believe me. And finally, this illusion is cool, rather, it would have been if I hadn’t gone and spoiled it. :P
    Yeah that’s it. -Homfrog

  27. aye, the artist is actually called Edvard Munch. Funny, i still seem to think it works better incolour although this makes it appear to ‘move’.

  28. Not is only inverting color, the picture is moving, there’re 4 layers, 2 in white and 2 in black…
    Not is an illusion

  29. The painter is from Norway amd his name is Edvard Munch. The painting was stolen few years ago, but is found again. Unfortunately the stupid thevees have destroyed the painting beyound repair.

  30. I normally really enjoy the daily optical illusions, but I really dislike this one…what an eye sore! Please change!!

  31. Next time you leave an illusion up for a few days, can it not be something that could cause a seizure? I had to remove the gadget from my google because I couldn’t look at it anymore.

  32. Hello Vurdlak. The painter is Edward Munch from Norway.It was stolen from a museum in Oslo, Norway, about two years ago,but it returned a half year later. Great site!!!

  33. first comment, neat!! I’ve been in and out of this site so often over the last while, it’s about time I posted. Fab pic, original by Edvard Munch.

  34. Yeah I’ve always loved this painting…it’s brilliant. The artist (I believe) is Edvard Munch. It was actually stolen back in the early 90’s and then just recently recovered…I think it’s in Europe somewhere now. :)


  35. I like these type of animations, you can make them in CS3 or Barbosa gif. maker. oh and by the way…. FIRST POST W00T!

  36. Please Please Please – no more flashing illusions! They give me a headache and I can’t even navigate to my homepage (Where your gadget is) without being hurt. Nice illusion, I just hate the flashing.

  37. sorry there is not just a color invert to do this.if you open the gif in a application like imageready, you can see there is 4 frame (two with one color and two inverted) but each of two are a little differentthan the first. i’m sorry for my english or if you don’t understand what i’m saying.
    but in the end the illusion of face growing, cloud moving… are excelent when you know what are the 4 original pictures.

  38. I just have to say that I removed your gadget because of this illusion. Put simply, the strobing and contrast hurts eyes. Not just mine, just eyes in general. Shouldn’t you have a seizure warning or something of the sort?

  39. can someone stop that thing from endless looping? loop twice is enough! i really makes me dizzy. lol.

    good eye illusion by the way. =]

  40. Well, to answere your question of who is the original painter of “the scream”. It is a norweigan painter by the name Edvard Munch.

  41. text says
    “it seems to move just from inverting color.”
    This is not true. If you slow the frames, there is movement interspersed with the color inversion

  42. Just wanted you to know that I had to delete your widget because it was just too annoying to have the darn thing blinking on my screen for days.

    1. The man has a life, you know. He has other things to do besides amusing us. Just because he wasn’t able to put a new illusion up for a while, it doesn’t give you the right to put him down, or bash him. And to all of you who took down your widget, by all means you have the right to. But you don’t have to tell the world. He knows that he won’t always be able to keep his fans, he can’t keep everyone happy. But you all are depressed, rude, and NEED A LIFE!! Thank you.

  43. We need new posts on at least an every other day frequency. If you take a job do it. Be responsible.
    Quit making excuses.

  44. well I like it..illusion or not..
    I like illusions anyhow..
    the only thing is that this one really make my eyes hurt and dizzy.
    new blog for me..

  45. You could give somebody an epileptic seizure with that image!… I hope everybody is ok \\ is their any warnings on site of something like dat?

  46. Yes, jesse’s is right.
    First I thought that this was edited, not only by inverting colors in different parts of the image at a time. But then I read the article and believed in what you wrote…
    I found it so unelievable and cool, that I wanted to see the diferent images used to produce this animation and realized, that my first thought was right, that you can’t reach such a movement by just inverting the colors…
    J’m a bit disappointed…

    Still, I like this page ;-)

  47. when i look at the face, it creeps me out >.<

    The illusion is not the fact that it's moving at all, but that it seems to keep on going.

  48. ok love this site but theres something I recomend for this tipe of images dont put them on the front page cause hepileptic people like me can see this image just because of the flashing I dont know I just say it so someone dosent have a problem

    Ok im saying it again love the site

  49. Download the GIF, look at it in Adobe Imageready or any appropriate application. It’s a hoax. The image is undergoing distortion other than the inversion. It consists of many frames (more than two).

  50. Guys,

    I consider this no more of an optical illusion than disney’s cartoons, since it’s not made only by inversion, but actually by several DIFFERENT FRAMES. Things are really in different places in different frames, so it is an animation!


  51. Did the guy paint this online if it was recent. And if not, how is everything moving?

    This painting is in our art room at school so I thought a kid painted it, but boy was I wrong.

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