Man in Black Optical Illusion


portrait illusionCheck the photo on your right. It was done by a flickr artist who goes under the name of kennysarmy. What’s so weird about this profile photo, is that it isn’t profile at all! Actually it’s a portrait of kennysarmy, and the picture was taken with camera standing right in front of the author. I have used this cropped version to strengthen the effect, and fool you better, but you can easily understand what I’m talking about when you scroll down and check the original.

It appears that the author has managed to adjust lighting in such a way, to hide only parts of his face that wouldn’t be seen if he was photographed from aside. Great stuff! Do you Agree?

Btw, those of you who are in possession of illusions you think would suit this site well, be sure to send them via email (can be found at the footer of the site), or simply upload them yourself to our Facebook fan group. I’m off to a vacation soon, but expect new illusions posted each day, as we normally do :)

  • Colin

    Better than last week for sure :P

  • Kelli

    omg. that is soooo weird but totally cool!

  • GDfan98311


  • Wow, it totally flashes my brain! I always see both the profile and the front picture. Somehow my brain does not manage to clip one of them to only see the other one. Great work!

  • Jabberwock

    But it’s shopped, isn’t it? The nose is in fact taken from a profile shot… There is a line of pixels cutting off the nostril a bit, also there is a sudden change in color from the nose to the eye area…

  • Jessie

    I like this illusion :) goood one.

  • ali

    it’s photoshopped.. not an “adjust lighting” thing.. look at his nose..

  • berrynghtwls

    This was definatly photoshoped.
    1) the nostril and nose is definatly profile
    2) the corner of the eye is profile.
    Nice work but not an origonal photo

  • awsome lol

  • Well, clearly the nose is photoshopped. You’re not saying it isn’t, righ?

  • *right?

  • Matt

    I call BS. No one’s nostril looks like that from the straight-forward point of view. Everything else looks legit, but I think the artist photoshopped the nose.


  • tonatiuht

    this is photoshopped

  • Awesome. I knew the profile didn’t look quite right but the more I stared at it, the more puzzled I became. Then looking at the larger version I thought, “How cool!” Love this website.

  • David

    The nose is side on but the rest of the face is front-on. Has the nose been photoshpped on to the cropped face?

  • Care Bear

    I’ve heard of two faced, but half a face? That’s just weird.

  • Pete

    Has it been Photoshopped?
    My head can get around every aspect of this illusion, apart from the nose. I can’t see this as a front view, the nostril looks like a profile shot to me and I can’t compute how it is achieved with light alone. Very cool indeed but not convinced it’s real.

  • Ciccio

    Lighting is not enough: the nose is clearly from aside… definitely photoshopped.

  • Neil Forker

    I’m pretty sure that is a Photoshop job.

  • Dmtisca

    the pic is good. it certainly breaks the minds perception about what we expect to see…

    BUT there is no way this isnt photoshopped. not unless the artist has a deformed nose (and nostril)

  • That’s phenomenal.

    However, I believe the effect has been enhanced by photoshop. The line between shadow and light on his face is too sharp compared to the line on his neck and chin. Even so, its a great effect!

  • Great photography, great illusion!

  • Crisp

    To say that “it isn’t profile at all” isn’t exactly true. The nose is obviously taken from another photo of the subject in profile.

    I also believe that some of the lighting has been manipulated digitally. The “edge” from the lips upward are much sharper than the shadow on the neck.

  • Johnny

    look at the nose…. That is a side view… This is not just positioning. The nose was photoshopped on from a side-view.

  • Ross

    It’s a good photoshop. If you copy and flip the face to make it whole, either the bridge of the nose is 4″ wide, or the dude has one nostril. Depending how far apart you want the eyes to be…

  • Sherrie Fendrych

    Cool illlusion, but ……. his nose is in profile. And the unnatural-looking depression under his left eye.

  • Rana

    Great work, Mr Arris.

    You should start doing this for other people as professional portraits!

  • Sherrie Fendrych

    Looking at it again, you can tell that it’s actually 2 photos. The line running down the side of the flare in his nose is shaded differently that the front photo.

  • Duncs

    Just plain creepy. Excellent camera effect. The only thing I picked up was that the chin didn’t look quite right at first view, but that didn’t give away the illusion. Loved it, Fantastic!

  • Jeff Arris

    Hey that’s me :)

  • rkatt

    Adjust the lighting? Any photographer would know that natural or artificial lighting would NEVER leave such a sharp transition line. The shading was photoshoped on. Also if he was facing forward his nose would have needed to be badly broken.
    Kind of a poor explination of the illusion but pretty cool none the less.

  • Tonya LaVette Spanks

    Good job!

  • Steve

    Very nice! Picasso-like.

  • That is awesome….

  • Brad

    haha thats really good!:) nice

  • Fiona Wynn

    That nose is a side-view, surely? Looks photoshopped to me :-/

  • josephine

    It’s really cool! When I first saw it, I didn’t look at the description, and I actually figured out the illusion without reading, i’m very proud :)

  • Adam

    It’s the nose that throws me off.. If I look at the cropped photo and ignore the nose I can see the front profile OK

  • You didn’t mention it was PHOTOSHOPED. It seems you want to make us believe it was NOT Photoshoped. It has been Photoshoped for sure.

  • He’s cheated. That isn’t the original photo. Above the lip there isn’t the normal fade to black that you see in the lower photo.

    Sure its a nice illusion, but its not as presented in the blurb

  • Justin

    There’s a lot of photo shop in this photo. its a front and side profile mashed into one.

  • qwertyuiop

    ahhhhhh im so confused!!!!!!

  • EricD

    bull. the nose and lips are profile, poorly photoshoped i might add

  • Aaron

    Nice effect, but nose is photoshopped. There’s no way to get that angle shot on the nose with a frontal shot.

  • Ken

    Me thinks the nose is wrong, it’s been cut from a profile, nostrils don’t look like that in portrait and you couldn’t get the shadow to lie like that. Plus the line across the forehead is to finite, not blurred like a normal shadow.

    This has been photo shopped.

  • Whitney N. Ollivierre

    this is way kool!

  • hackhound

    That has to be photoshopped. The nose is clearly in profile. Or, he has possibly painted part of his face black – I don’t believe it was just done with lighting.

  • Jacques

    lol, Great illusion!

  • Voigt

    Awesome image, wicked imagination!

  • Pilar

    But, isn’t that two pictures fantastically put together by Photoshop? I’m pretty sure the nose and the upper lip are from a picture taken in profile position and the other face parts standing in front of the camera.

    • Someone

      …? It’s just shadow, I saw it right away, that the man was facing straight ahead, I mean, just look at his damn eye. It’s not Photoshop.

    • Invisible

      @someone: This pic is definitively photoshopped. The edges of the shadows are far to sharp. On a curved surface (like the ridge of the nose or forehead) shadows fade smoothly.

      See e.g.

  • Omoshire

  • Trevor Ianna

    Ok, is it just me or does anybody else notice that the nose is totally in profile. It is not a lighting adjustment on the nose, it is just pasted on sideways. Of course, if he has a completely sideways nose I retract the statement.

    • Sofia Antonia Milone

      Ha ha ha. The nose has definitely been photoshopped, it has been pasted as a profile, where as the rest of the face is head on, like the body. And clearly the ‘shadow’ on that profile has been added too, far to clean cut compared to the rest of the softer shadow.

  • Dave

    The nose is wrong. This has been altered. If it was shot straight on then this guy has the crookedest broken nose I have ever seen. The tip of his nose is in line with where his other eye should be:)

  • says says says says

    Hey thats me too!

  • Deepak

    that’s pretty cool

  • Travis Leong

    It is photoshopped. The nose doesn’t look right.

  • Irma Lam

    I don’t understand the nose…

  • Annette Williams


  • Zach Dirk

    The nose is the hardest part for me to see. =/

  • Fred

    This one is really outstanding. The illusion works just as well in the full portrait even though the orientation of the body seems like it should force the view to appear that he was facing the camera. It is easy to imagine the face in either orientation. In the full portrait, when the face appears to be looking to the side, the effect is somewhat disorienting.

  • Røb

    It confuses my brain but it’s so aesthetic!

  • Kimon

    The eye makes definitely a front position but still pretty cool!

  • Kimon

    Also: IMO the illusion has been partially reinforced by brush.

    Look at where the light is coming from (straight right). The nose shadow is impossible, and so is the forehead.
    Also look at how his shoulder, throat and chin fade to dark and how crisp everything else is, even his moustache.

    Not saying it has any less merit. Just saying it is not purely lighting.

  • Jess

    thats really clever!

  • Koja

    What about nose?

  • Mort

    I like the illusion, but I don’t believe it is only 1 picture. It appears to be portrait of him with a profile of his nose photoshopped on. Very well done, just not done with creative lighting alone.

  • manohar


  • manohar


  • tony

    I like that, very freaky effect

  • John Elliott

    I am pretty sure that this pic has been photoshopped, as well as being cunningly lit. That is the only way I can see of getting such a sharp forehead shadow. Great idea, though!

  • andrew

    thats not lighting at all… its just photo shop….

  • Helena

    Wonderfull illusion!

  • I think the nose is photoshopped,
    that’s definitely the side of it… look at the nostril!

    anyway, great ilusion indeed.

  • KITT

    there’s something going on with the nose. It’s photoshopped on sideways.

  • Awe! Cool!!

  • I think he’s cheated! There’s no way that nose would work on a front-view face

  • Duncan

    Surely some of this is photoshopped?

    I mean no disrespect but I mean theres no possible way his nose is formed sideways like that…

  • n17ment


  • somethings wrong. In the front view, why is the nose still facing to the left?

  • chuck

    Sorry but this is neither a profile or a head on shot. It’s been photoshopped. Check out the nose and the mouth, the mouth is facing us and the nose is in profile. The eye is less obvious but I think it is facing us as well.

    PSed or not it is a great effect, and I love this blog, there is an occasional dud but mostly there is something to try to figure out.

  • Kratacat

    Very weird but cool! I love your site!

  • Janelle McDermott

    Sven I agree messes with your mind!

  • joey

    im scared

  • Error Ash

    Looks Photoshopped, but still awesome!

  • Charles

    Just crudely combined the image with its mirror. The result clearly shows that either the man has only one hole in his nose, or the image is a combination of profile and a face-on image :). See:

  • Jeff Arris

    You are right.
    I took 2 photos one straight on and one sideshot.

    They were then merged together in photoshop, which took a considerable amount of time to line them up and brush out the correct areas to create the effect.

    I remembered seeing a similar effect on another flickr users site but could never re-find the image so created my own..

    Glad you like it….

    Part of the eys is facing and part of the eye is side shot…

  • the nose is definitely photoshopped

  • Latisha

    i saw it right away, but still very cool

  • DetectiveKitty

    I love it! when i first saw it I immediately was confused wondering what the actual picture was. quite skilled the photographer is..

  • jim h

    it’s clear that the shadows on his face are sharper than the ones on his chest, meaning a bit of retouching was done…would be nice to see the original, without the “cutout” of the shadow on the face..

  • jim h

    doh, get it now..

  • minciuna

    This is Photoshopped. It is no Illusion. If you follow the link to his pictures you can see the steps it took to do this.
    The effect could be done with special shadowing cut-outs, but the profile side and nose would not look as perfect.

  • tara

    the nose isn’t photoshopped (i might be wrong but i don’t think so) Our eyes want to see the nose as profile cause of how he cut it out but if you focus on only the nose none of the other u can see that the tip of the nose that helps make it look profile is the top of the nose and the curve that seems to look like profile is actually a small part of the skin that separates the two nostril holes. Trust me keep looking and expand your mind. He has more of a bigger flatter nose but make it like a puzzle and it will become clear.

  • tara

    it is very funny how many ppl think its photoshopped and that shows how great the illusion is. Its all bout how the black cuts the picture that makes it like that

  • Lee

    i believe that is his nose head-on, but i don’t believe that it is a photo shot head-on. Either his nose is totally out of place, or his eyes are freakishly far apart, anatomically speaking.

  • Jeff Arris

    I am the creator of the image and it is indeed TWO images taken from the same tripoded camera with my facing towards and to the side of the camera.
    I then took my profile and merged it using photoshop to the other image to create a composite illusion.

    They eye was actually the hardest part to get right with the shadows….

    I am quite pleased with how the lips merged in too…

    Glad the images is being enjoyed :)

  • Duy

    With all of the confusion i mirrored image of his face the noise and mouth doesn’t add up. The only way this was a frontal picture is that he is an alien from outer space or very ugly in real life.

  • notarealname

    aftr he said rite in front of da athor i realised it was a 1/2 pictr

  • Kanogias


  • Phobbie


  • WOW omg if u people look at the original one it will b a persons face turned sideways but the body is facing u

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