Count the Colors, Read the Solution

This is an oldie, but we rarely see this kind of optical illusions in its full effect. Ok, this is what I want you to do: count how many different colors you can see in this spiral below. Unfortunately color-blind individuals will only see a grayish pattern, so this won’t work for them (those of you can remain occupied reading this article). Rest of you, be sure first to notice that there are two different shades of pink, and then you may start counting. Most of us will end up with 4 different colors (2 pinkish ones, blue and a green). Well this was the wrong answer! Yes, you heard me right. There are actually only 3 colors present here. To see what I mean, check the second picture. It shows you how this image would look like if we removed those pinkish colors in background. Amazing, isn’t it? You may recall candy stripes we posted waaay back. It’s almost the same!

How Many Colors Are There?
How Many Colors Are There?

This is the same picture, with pink shades removed.
This is the same picture, with pink shades removed.

116 Replies to “Count the Colors, Read the Solution”

  1. I saw at once that there where only three colours. My question is, why does the patern chance in the middle of the spiral?

  2. that’s cool.. There are only 3 colors, but the solution picture doesn’t make since, because it replaces 2 colors with black, leaving only the green.

    The 3 colors are pink, orange and green. There are not two different shades of pink.

    The apparent blue and apparent green colors are actaully the same color, but look different because of strips. (green with orange strips looks greener, but green with pink strips look blueish)

  3. Kathy,I saw orange, too. Guess we’re the only two that saw that color! I even went back and read the directions again, but it doesn’t mention orange….weird. :-)

  4. Hello.

    I copied-pasted this to paintbrush and then selected different colors. I found pink, orange, green, and blue. Not an illusion, this time it’s real.

  5. Amazing! I had to go take it to photoshop and zoom in to see the greens are actually the same… even then, when I zoom out I still see 2 greens!

    Great one!

    oh! first time posting btw. :D

  6. Actually, due to the image quality on this page (the image has been scaled and has lost quality) there are alot more colours, especially so towards the middle of the image, the greenish colour looks blue when isolated – viewing the original picture however, is fine :P

  7. I read the comments, still didn’t 100% believe it. Opened it in good ol’ Paint, zoomed in… lo and behold, I could actually SEE that the “green” and “blue” are the same color. If you zoom in close enough, the overlaid stripes don’t affect them and you can see for yourself. Crazy. That’s a good one.

  8. Even looking at it and knowing the answer, it’s hard to believe that there are only three colors

    The pattern changing in the middle: it really isn’t, that’s just a MOIRE’ pattern.

  9. pink orange blue and green are 4 colours, so what are you talking about 3 colours: green pink orange and blue = 4.

  10. I saw six colors – aqua, dark pink, lighter pink, green, orange and some dark blue near the center on the aqua.

  11. I can see three colours pink, orange, green and blue.

    For those of you with a Mac if you press contol, option, command and the 8 above the letters, it changes the colours and you can clearly see the four colours.

  12. For the ‘this time it’s real’ and ‘i don’t get it’ posters:

    The blue and green colors are actually the same color!
    If you don’t believe it: get the RGB values with some color grabber.

  13. is it supposed to be black? or did you just do that to confuse us? i still dont see why there is only 3 colours………….

  14. Better Solution:

    Pick up a small section from the center of the image and zoom in until each pixel becomes a large square. Then you can clearly see there are only 3 colors: green, orange and pink.

  15. aaah, reminds me of the good old golden days in the 80ies when 8-bit computers could only display 4 different colours (incl background) on the screen in the slightly-not-that-clunky-resolution modes. they used tricks then like that too to make things look more colourful.

  16. Kathy and barbara, i also saw orange, but i am kind of full of genetic sight mishaps… colour blind (green/red) and long sighted. yay.

  17. I put it into photoshop too and it’s pretty neat. Just shows how easy your eyes can be fooled into seeing a certain color where there isn’t one. All you really have to do is zoom in on the picture a LOT and you will see that it’s only green, orange, and pink. I don’t know why Vurdlak said just the pink shades were removed since orange isn’t a shade of pink O_o.

    Kathy, there are orange stripes. Orange stripes are where you see green, and pink stripes cross where you see blue. Like BowlingTracker said, when you have pink next to green like this you will percieve blue, and when you have orange next to green it makes the green look darker.

  18. Amazing, after reading the comments from Rodrigo and Phuzzy, i prefered to confirm with GIMP and yes there is only 3 colours, great site, great illusion, and just like some other i also see orange colour in the picture

  19. That is sooo cool, I love the illusions where no matter how many times you look at them qnd try to figure them out, they still trick you.

    Top stuff!

  20. Good one! Even though I know the answer, I still can’t convince my eyes that there is no blue.

    I don’t see any pink, either. I see magenta (or fuchsia) and orange.

  21. I see why they removed two of the three colors, but calling that orange a “pink” shade is just wrong. Cool though how the orange and the magenta interact with that green to give an illusion of brighter green and cyan that are just not there…

  22. well, I verified it with Photoshop and it said there are 3 independent colors. However, I see 4 (Pink, cyan, orange, green). Thing is, Photoshop said that the cyan and the green were the same, and I can only see one Pink color as well.

    I am seriously starting to doubt my ability to judge colors now :S

  23. I first saw four colours but when i began to count, there were only three..Strange, isn’t it?
    It was a mindblow like a lightning crushing into a tree and suddenly I also saw only three colours, but it IS a very nice illusion!
    but… two pinkish ones? Come on, Vurdlak, this is orange, for sure! ;-)

  24. hang on , the second picture only has 2 colours – black and greeny blue……and you say there are three colours


    im baffled

  25. that’s sweet. I didn’t believe you guys so i loaded it into paint, zoomed right in and used the dropper to lift the colours into my pallet. Checked out the stats and the “green” and “blue” lines are the same colour; RBG and hue, saturation and luminescense are the same.

  26. You’re all wrong! There ARE 4 colours. I loaded the image into Corel Photo-Paint and re-saved. The preview before saving showed me 4 colours to be saved in the file’s colour map: Black, Orange, Magenta and Sea Green. Ok but other than the solitary black pixel in the centre of the image, BowlingTracker is completely correct.

  27. Some people are… slow… weird… stupid? “I can see 4 colours” Hum yeah of course… the thing is that there are only 3 colors, the brain sees 4. Come on guys, read the article pefore posting dumb comments.

  28. i saw a better one at work, the nature museum, with birds it looks like 4 colours but is 2, orange and yellow, but it goes with 3 bands across the bird and the background colour, repeated four different ways, asking which are teh same with letters a, b, c, d, e, f. i couldnt find a copy online….

  29. For those using “Count Colors” in a paint program.. yes, there are 4 colors in the palate, but only 3 of them are used. Black is the first color in the palate, but do you see blank in the image? nooooooo

  30. This is a really aggravating illusion. Having looked at it for a while, I’ve realised the colour misperception is, in part, due to the way they are displayed on an LCD screen. Copy the image, go into paint, draw 2 boxes at the top of the screen and fill one of them with the ‘blue’ colour, and one of them with the ‘green’ colour. Now select one of the boxes and drag it to the bottom of the screen. Notice how it ‘changes colour’ (to become more blue)? Now move your head down and it ‘becomes green again’. I believe the various software used to measure the colours do so in different ways and therefore that’s why there are sometimes 3 colours and at other times 4.

  31. I don’t understand. Really, I’m at loss here. I see 4 colors on the first picture, as everyone does, apparently. Pink, orange, blue and green. And I really don’t understand what to make of the “solution” picture. There’s only two colors there, black and green, and both colors are nowhere near the colors in the first picture.

    So… whatthef?

  32. I copy-pasted the first picture to paint and compared the blue and green, only then I believed it was the same colour. I know it’s true but I still can’t see it, its amazing!

  33. This one makes no sense, I saw 4 colours, blue, orange, pink and green, the answer is 3 but on the second pic I only see black and green, and black isn’t in the original? so its just green?
    I think the solution needs better explaining
    Or I’m just missing something ^_^

  34. The “solution” is somewhat misleading. It looks like the “orange” stripes have the same colour as the “red” spiral (which makes no sense because we can distinguish them). It took me some while to realise that the author was meaning that the green and blue colour are actually the same…

  35. Amazing. Has no one else noticed the single black pixel in the centre of the picture? There ARE 4 COLOURS – both in the palette AND ACTUALLY USED in the image. The 4 colours used (including the proper colour names) are Black, Magenta, Orange and Sea Green.

  36. Maybe I’ve found the matter.
    The second picture solution is confusing, forget it.
    The green/blue illusion happens due to the different stripes that crosses the band.
    In the “blue” one, it is crossed by pink stripes; in the “green” one, it is crossed by orange stripes.
    I guess that since the stripes are very small, the brain mixes the colors with different results. With bigger stripes this should not happen.

  37. For those seeing 4 colors and not understanding the solution picture, think of it this way; the orange and pink are in fact, not the colors in question. Only the green and blue. If you take the orange and pink out and replace them with black, the solution image is the result. Blue and green aren’t really in there at all. It’s more Sea Green-ish. One spiral mixes with orange to make it seem lighter (green), and the other spiral mixes with pink to make it seem darker (blue). It’s the same effect as all the other color illusions on this site.

  38. omg thats so cool the green + blue r the same colour!!!
    the description was rubbish but i got it thanks to all the comments especially andy’s comment about paint that helped thanks

  39. for people who still dont understand the solution, the solution is the same image with black in place of the pink and orange, so you see that blue and green are the same colour. if u go on any program that can compare colors, (better if it gives the codes of the colors) you can see that in the first pic you have only three colors: the pink, the orange (which vurdlak describes as another shade of pink) and the green.

  40. Amazing… I actually had to copy the image into MS Paint and use the colour picker tool to paint the ‘green’ and ‘blue’ colours next to each other, before I believed they were the same colour.

    ^^Ps. Excuse the Australian spelling of “Colour”

  41. That’s incredible!

    I used the color picker in my browser dev-tools plugin, and they are exactly the same color value. #00FF97

  42. you can try opening the picture alone in a window of you browser.. now zoom in really far. then it becomes apparent that the blue is in fact the same colour as the green. this illusion works really well!

  43. Dude, get over it. It’s 3 colours. Don’t be a wise ass, seriously.

    I thought that you were talking about the Pink and Orange (yes I am using capitals) when you spoke about the ‘two colours’ being the same; I was so confused for so long (sooo long, sooo long) but then


    It was so awesome.

  44. Heh-heh! I wasn’t going for that either, until I looked at it close up. It does make you giggle when you realise that there is no blue.

  45. Its interesting, that all 3 colors have the same saturation. I don’t know if it is a condition for what happens in our brains. But the amazing thing is, that you make this color mix effect physical. Just take the picture, convert it to RGB color mode and scale it to a quarter with interpolation. Many pixel turn into a blue tone. And this is not an illusion. ;) Maybe our brains do not have the resolution and interpolate the colored lines the same way.

  46. Freaky… i only realised that the blue and the green is the same color cuz I checked it with paint. It’s true and it’s really confusing…

  47. Our eyes see certain colors differently depending on which colors they’re next to. When the blueish-greenish color is striped with the pink, it looks blue; when its striped with the orange, it looks green.

    It has nothing to do with the way LCD monitors display things. In fact, the same phenomenon explains why the person who suggested it saw it become more green or more blue depending on the background. His eyes were seeing it differently based on what was around it.

    It didn’t help, however, that the person who wrote the initial description described ‘two pinkish colors’ when the rest of us seem to be seeing one pink and one orange.

  48. Okay, I get it now. Thanks.

    Actually, I understood the explanation (or people’s comments) that the blue and the green is actually the same color. I just gotten confused by the “explanation” picture. Why on earth did it become black? It turned out to be an emphasis that the green and the blue was the same color.

    Okay, now I have another problem. I opened both pictures in Photoshop. Color picked the blue and the green in the first picture and confirmed that it is indeed ONE color. Color #00FF96 with RGB component of 0R, 255G and 150B.

    Next, I color picked the second picture. The explanation picture. In my eyes, the color in the toolbar didn’t seem to change. It was the same color as the first picture. But when I opened the color picker menu, that same color was said to be color #04FE94 with RGB component of 4R, 254G and 148B.

    How could this be? I swear I didn’t see any change in the color when I color picked it.

    All in all… amazing illusion! You can’t force yourself (your eyes) to acknowledge that it was the same color, EVEN when you know for a fact that it was. You still see it as blue and green. CRAB! Great one this one, Vurdlak!

  49. After Chris said there’s a single solitary black pixel in the middle, I decided to crop the image to a spiral and indeed XnView shows 3 colors.

    Good catch Chris.

  50. At first i was like wtf it’s clearly 4. I thought that he meant pink and orange are the same which clearly wasn’t. This is awesome. Even knowing how it works you can’t force yourself to think that green and blue are the same

  51. you see, orange is the oposite of blue makeing the stripe look more green, red (or pink) is the oposite of green which makes the stripe look more blue, the diference makes the two look like different colours (im not british i just like spelling color like that) its very cool though, one of the best illusions on here

  52. Okay people, this is what it is. yes it’s 3 colours because the pink lines MIX with the black and green, which forms those colours. That is why it’s 3 colours. you need the PINK stripes to form that. So you could say it’s mixed colours.

  53. i didn’t have to look at the second picture, as soon as you said that there are only 3 colours i saw the illusion

  54. This is wierd. I saved the photo and opened it using microsoft paint. after messing around, i tried to add different colors, but all the colors on the palete boxes, even if u choose white, coume out as one of the three colors. whats up with that?

  55. In the second picture’s caption, it says “pink shades” and therefore means more then 1. I guess purple is a shade of pink and the author thought that as well.

    Good catch with the black pixel in the center. With the black pixel, it’s 4. Without, it’s 3.

  56. Wow! Awesome!
    I checked in photoshop and there are 3 colours! Hehe!
    Those blue and green are the same colour! It’s a visual effect from the surrounding colours :D

  57. i thought same thing easy way is to take a piece of card and put 2 pin holes in it and line up blue and green. i didnt believe it either till i checked but they are the same color thatsa awesome

  58. really cool!!! i copied the picture into paint, took small portions from seemingly blue and green parts into another document… then i replaced the two shades of pink (pink and orange) with white, and surprisingly i obtained both the colors as same.. a sort of dirty green!!!

  59. that’s just wrong. your instructions said to count how many different colors are there in the 1st spiral, so we counted 4, but you removed the pink one, so that’s just wrong. do you get it? haha. just babbling though.

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