Lovely illusion


Following on from the success of the rude count yesterday, this was sent to me by Kate H and is a great after-image illusion…..(click on image to run animation)…


Did it work for you?

Also, I am chatting about seances, psychology and magic on the Sunday Supplement podcast this week.


48 comments on “Lovely illusion

  1. Graeme Sacks says:

    I stared at the picture…nothing. Then I realised I had to click on it!
    Worked beautifully!

  2. Scott says:

    Ditto. It would help if it mentioned that you had to click on the image to get the “video” (actually an animated GIF).

  3. Mchl says:

    Wow! Great thing!

  4. Mona says:

    That is so cool! I wish someone could explain how/why that happens?

  5. Chrissie says:

    That’s amazing, I love it.

  6. Mark Roberts says:

    This is fantastic!

    I first saw this illusion with a photograph of pool balls but it stil never ceases to amaze me.

  7. Oase says:

    Great! The time it takes to kick in and the suddenness of the change are marvelous.

  8. foundonmars says:

    Wow! I sat there for almost 20 seconds seeing the color perfectly until it finally began bleeding away. Watching the second time, even knowing what was coming worked even better. Great illusion!!

  9. Ben White says:

    Hey that’s cool! Only lasted a split second for me, but perhaps that’s because I tried to move my focus around the image as soon as it went into colour. I’m going to try again and hold the focus this time.

  10. @Mona,
    If you would like to know how/why this works, Beau Lotto explains why in this presentation:

    Hope this helps,

  11. Simon Dunn says:

    The first after image I saw was with the waterfall; really great stuff.

    If you got a Forbidden page when you clicked on the podcast link above, my server broke last night, apologies. It’s fixed now, and Richard is very entertaining and eloquent in it; it was a pleasure chatting to him.

  12. The Skepdick says:

    I did the same thing as Graeme Sacks. Stared like hell. Nothing. Stupid illusion.

    But after it changed (after I clicked it), the negative colors were very nice.

  13. ayodolapo says:

    Great! you are doing a great work, read some of your work.I appreciate your wealth of knowledge and i do have a question for you. As a psychology expert , what you teach me about the TRAVIALS OF LUCK AND SUCCESS. Thanks

    • Jenny says:

      Given that Richard has written a book all about it (The Luck Factor) it might be more reasonable of you to go and read that before demanding he give you individual lessons.

  14. KatM says:

    First attempt kept getting distracted by the timer bar at the bottom of the picture so it didn’t work. Second time I was more disciplined and stared at the dot the whole time and lo and behold it worked! Would like to see this done with a much more interesting image than a boring office building.

  15. bluedolphin says:

    Totally cool. The first time I did it, I saw the colours, then it became black and white after I focus on the words. I thought the gif made the picture turned colour for a few seconds. Then tried it the 2nd round and it was coloured for a long while until I took my focus off. 3rd time I didn’t look at the black dot and the picture was black and white all the while.

  16. Leilamon says:

    That was awesome! I love these types of illusion! Also I realised that if you keep staring at the dot after the image has changed the colours stay there for longer!

  17. me again says:

    lol, what the hell people

    One should be able to deduce from the immobile “loading bar” that the picture should be moving. Clicking on it, the only logical action.

  18. Nacnudrium says:


    Once, about 20 years ago (maybe more), I was watching a programme on the little black and white TV in our bedroom. The programme was documentary about the London Underground map. At one point they showed the entire map on the screen when after a couple of seconds the colour began to fade from the picture. I wondered what had gone wrong with the TV then remembered that it was a black and white set, realising that I had automatically seen the colours of the tube lines. I was a London commuter at the time; being so used to the colours on that pattern my brain must have ‘assumed’ them for me.

  19. mikekoz68 says:

    It’s amazing that the colour lasts for as long as I stare straight ahead but as soon as I move my eyes the colur vanishes instantly, in fact, if I move my eyes right away as soon as the b&w picture is shown the effect is gone. Good effect though

  20. What an awesome illusion! Really clever! 🙂

  21. I love these. It’s amazing how our brains “paint” the black-and-white image. I wonder if there is a way to create a long-sustaining three-dimensional after image. Oh wait a minute, they’re called dreams. Duh! Thanks for the cool pic Richard.

  22. lflcorreia says:

    I’ve created what i think is a good aproximation of the real color image. Here it is:

    What i’ve done was creating a negative of the first image we see and combine with the black and white image at the end of the animation, resulting in an image which is the average of the former two images and then applying some minor corrections (brightness/contrast). I think that explains in part the illusion we see.

  23. […] Sorprendende ilusion Cortesía de Richard Wiseman: […]

  24. Jewel says:

    That was pretty cool. I saw color on the side buildings and the trees were in color, too. I love stuff like this.

  25. Natalie says:

    Very cool! I didn’t see it the first time, but did the second time for about a half second.

  26. Anne says:

    that’s amazing!

  27. Nopke says:

    Hm, did not work. I thought, maybe because I’m tired, so maybe if I dont stare at the dot but check the moment when it switches …. nada!
    Maybe it is the staring that does not work out right now.

    I need a bed.

  28. I’d love to know where the picture’s from because it reminds me a lot of the University of Toronto, but since it’s been about 12 years since I’ve passed by that particular building I could be confusing my memory…

  29. Rob says:

    Set me thinking. If I fix on the dot, all the peripheral b/w is off my fovea and on the rods, so my brain can assume colour with no conflicting data to overwrite. As soon as I start to saccade around, the fovea picks up the grayscale and the brain cottons onto the dupe… bang goes the colour.


    If I was fixed on the dot all through the negative phase, presumably the negative colours were on the rod area. So how did I pick up any colour info from the neg? I’m missing something obvious.

  30. Rob says:

    OK, I get it now. The rods aren’t so dumb. Relative intensity, a few scattered cones….

  31. Jane says:

    I only saw the colour for a split second. It looked so cool, but it was so short.

  32. tiffany2695 says:


  33. Nice post ! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  34. […] Optical Illusion November 15, 2009 mikemcb Leave a comment Go to comments This is great: Click The Image Categories: Uncategorized Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment […]

  35. vraniel says:

    i even saw the middle house with colors…^^

  36. Blu3BlurS0n1c says:

    I first learnt this sort of thing in my biology class, where we had to stare at a green heart on a screen, and then our teacher told us to look at a wall and it became a red heart. Same goes for yellow and blue; basically your eyes invert the color, kind of like what you can do to an image on the computer. It’s very simple to make this kind of illusion, I made another one similar to this, and you can do it with any image you want. Don’t ask me how your eyes can do this though, cause I honestly don’t remember what the teacher told us, I was too facinated with the exercise 😛

  37. Hardlinemarxist says:

    Fantastic, I normally struggle with such things due to having in sight in one eye only…but not this time.

  38. […] animation was originally submitted to psychologist Richard Wiseman’s blog and is one of the best examples of the afterimage effect we’ve come across. It’s a […]

  39. Derrick says:

    Great blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user discussion forums that
    cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be
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    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

  40. […] lifted this image from the brilliant Richard Wiseman. It illustrates another cool quirk about human eyes and their ability to perceive […]

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