Floating “Rectangle” Optical Illusion


Let me share an interesting find originally titled “This Optical Trick Is Annoying the Hell Out of Me” by Gizmodo. I had this animation on my hard for a while, but before I learnt how to reduce it’s size to a minimum (while at the same time being able to retain decent quality of the .gif file), I refrained myself from sharing it on this site (and widgets).

So, what is really going on here? What you see at first is a floating shape whose corners are covered with a yellow post-its. Your brain immediately recognises it as a rectangle, as it tries to connect the shape with something already familiar. But see what happens when the yellow stickers are removed from the animation. The actual shape of the floating object is revealed – in reality resembling nothing close to the rectangle you thought you were seeing at first. How amazing was that?

  • Richard

    Weird and different, thanks.

  • Sakura

    That’s smart.

  • Care Bear

    Cool. Who thinks of this stuff?

  • Craig

    The illusion is not that you are fooled by having the corners of the white rectangle covered but that by only revealing sections of the white rectangle border once the top sheet is removed you are fooled into thinking you are not seeing a rotating rectangle. Don’t believe me? Cut out a rectangle of the appropriate size and you will be able to rotate it within the white borders in exactly the way you initially thought was depicted.

    • eric

      really guy? that just means the actual illusion is done right

    • Johnny

      Craig, the illusion is actually that all four sides appear to move in unison when the corners are covered, but they are actually moving offset.

  • Steve

    Very cool. Love the .GIF format too.

  • Kimon

    Very cool. The brain fills in the “missing” corners of the “rectangle”. It’s part of the brain’s ability to recognize things that are not fully in view.

  • MajorWebUser

    You’re missing the actual illusion. The four sticks are not moving in total unison. Each parallel pair are moving together, but opposing pair (groups of two) are not. This is plainly evident when uncovered. While covered by the four yellow squares, it appears that the white lines are moving as a unified “square” in a clockwise orbit.

  • Diane

    dont see a rectangle ,see some diamond shape.
    Maybe being dyslexic and dysculcula STUMPED me ♥

  • L

    impressive! after he showed what it was, i was able to notice the pattern and now i can no longer see the floating diamond.

  • Laurinda

    I love how mesmerizing it is. But isn’t that a square, not a rectangle?

    • jma534

      All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are square.

  • Abi

    err… So, you’re calling that a recangle, are you?

  • Abi


  • AB

    Too bad you can’t “like” someone’s quote like on facebook. Laurinda is right about the square! It still is a cool illusion!

  • eric

    I didn’t get it at first – didn’t see some rotating square but a wobbling square-like shape.
    Took me reading the comments and un-focusing to make it work.
    Craig seems to have proven its perfectly done, but why then do I notice the wobble with the cover on?

    Also nice illusion – its great to see some new stuff (even if it is just playing on a theme; Gestalt principles)

  • minecaricature

    crazy, I love it

  • eric thaler

    I didn’t belive it so i traced the dinods (sticy note) and keeped the lines covered and it still works.I just wrote a HUUUGGGEE run on sentince .

  • stretch

    seems impossible.

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