Shady Optical Illusion

Those of you following my personal life will find it informational that me and my woman have arrived safely, back from NYC yesterday. I will talk more about my Manhattan experience in following days, but I can’t stop from feeling small again, now that I have arrived back home. New York is truly what metropolis stands for. Experiencing the atmosphere, and city’s flow – enables you quickly to perceive you are in the center of world’s action. First day we arrived, before I knew it – we were spontaneously picked of the street to take part in the Late Show with David Letterman (as audience, of course). You can watch the episode with Paul Schaffer, and maybe even spot me in the back-right section, wearing a striped white-blue sweater. We even got ourselves Paul Schaffer’s book at the end!

But let’s get back to illusions for now… I found this one on The Instructables. There you can find some instructions how to DIY this illusion yourself. Basically, it involves four different shades of blue that border each other. When viewed from left to right, the shades go from lightest to darkest. The illusion comes into play when an object is placed along the borders of each successive shade. Something strange occurs with our perception of the obvious difference in shades – neighboring shades appear to be precisely the same! Jump inside this article, to see the original pattern.

Shady Optical Illusion 1Now remove those pesky pencils away from the bluish pattern. How many colors do you see? I can assure you that both patterns are exactly the same! There is a video on YouTube called “Shady Optical Illusion” that shows you the effect in reverse. Be sure to check it out!


42 Replies to “Shady Optical Illusion”

  1. Erm, looks like 4 shades of blue with a couple of pencils on it…

    I had thought the illusion was that the pencil on the right was supposed to be vertical, when it isn’t. I had presumed the darker right hand shades were supposed to fool our brains or whatever.

  2. I think it depends on how your monitor is set up really, I can clearly see the difference between the two blues on the right, but not so much with the ones on the left.

  3. Nope, doesn’t work for me either – four distinct colours with or without pencils. Though the with-pencils lighter blues do appear to be more similar than in the without-pencils image.

  4. I thought that the shades were suppose to be the same and that the presence of the pencils help create the illusion of difference colors. Because to me, I too see four shades of blue with two pencils. Although, the two lighter shades did ALMOST appear to be similar with the pencil on it.

  5. I think “tony” needs to adjust his monitor settings :P shades seem to be coming out incorrectly;) Contrast maybe?

    This is a good illusion I like it, it fooled me! =D upon closer inspection though i can just about see that they’re different with the pencils there ‘fooling me’

  6. wow! my guess is that the pencils fool us into thinking the colors are the same because we can’t see the colors meet, only the surrounding areas which are close enough. do you know what i mean?

  7. That’s what I thought, too. I can still clearly see two shades of blue on the right.

    I guess my left eye is not as good, though, because the I can only see one shade on the left. I wonder why I can only see the illusion out of one eye?

  8. @tony: you’re right. there ARE four blue shades next to eatch other.
    but the illusion is that it seems like there are only 2 shades of blue when there are pencils on it (or something else) don’t you see it? i only see 2 shades WITH the pencils and four WITHOUT the pencils…THAT’S the illusion! >.<'

  9. yeah, the lighter one on the right is a little more convincing, but the one on the left you can tell immediately.I also thought the crooked pencil was the illusion :D

  10. When I saw the 1st photo it looked like just 2 shades of blue to me. It was only after I saw the second photo and then looked back at the first, that I was able to clearly see the four shades, but then I guess that’s cos I knew they were there. I thought it was a pretty cool illusion.

  11. I only saw 2 shades consciously. Because the scene is lit from the left, the brain expects the areas to the right of each pencil to be shadowed, an effect normally eliminated in our perception. If you saw 4 shades right away, you may have poor spatial perception. The 1-second driving test: 4colours=bad drivers, 2colours=good. Teasing, sorreee…

  12. that’s actually pretty cool. I guess just like that wierd frame illusion we assume that the pencil is in the middle and when things are in the middle our brains are used to symetrical views on both sides so when they did this our brains, seeing the pencils in the middle assumed that the sides were symetrical…

  13. If you don’t believe it then paste it to Paint and cut pieces out of the colours and you can clearly see the difference.

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