Today is Day 2 of working on the new book.  To celebrate, here are three lovely ‘come forward – stand back’ illusions today…..

Do they work for you? Which is your favourite?


  1. Interesting. We tend to react very sensitively to faces, so there’s a lot of baggage there. I like the last one best.

    I figure those images work (subject perception varies with distance) because at larger distance the details of the sharp overlays fall below our visual acuity.

    BTW, color acuity is less than B/W acuity, which is why in analog TV (now obsolete) the chrominance bandwidth was smaller than the luminance bandwidth, and why kids’ coloring books work so well even when they are not filled in quite entirely accurately 😉

    1. I went to school with a Michael Sternberg in Indiana (’68 – ’72). Any chance?

      The second one because of the reversal of the angry/not angry faces. Took a lot of squinting to get it.

  2. Can’t get the first one on the left. Know the right hand one is cat close up but was expecting left one to be cat far away but it doesn’t change. Is it just me?

    others are great.

  3. For those who wear reading glasses just take them off to save the effort of moving backwards and forwards. If I’d realised this sooner I might not have run over the cat with my office chair.

    1. Thanks. That made them for me. I didn’t see the car until I read the filename before that.

  4. Excellent. I especially like the second one: the angry face is so surprising that I had to check again up-close to make sure I didn’t just confuse left from right.

  5. I like how the guy’s expression changes and saw the dolphin turn into a car on a wet road ! But for me, the girl pics don’t do anything.

  6. #1 has the hardest job because it uses identical base images with a second layer on one of them, and is definitely the most subtle. (more on this later)
    #2 i second Aviv’s double take, its almost shocking how much it changes; feels like a pure bred species of psych experiment visual straight from the lab.
    #3 is a partial opacity overlay that works quite well but… well its just not as interesting as #1.
    Taking a tip from the above comments i grayscaled the image and used a plastic layer from a laptop screen (deceased) that is invisible when in contact with the screen but rapidly fuzzes out when it moves away from the screen. It seems to break down like this:
    view1 = close/left side happy/right side aggressive
    view2 = further away/ls no change/rs feline detail blurred but eye shape changed to show ecstatic happiness, causing left side to appear threatening by contrast.
    Slight of mind?
    (to verify that no other change exists between right and left sides, view them as a stereo pair)

  7. 1) I’d say the girl doesn’t count. All that’s happened is someone’s mapped feint impressions of feline features onto the representation of her face in the photograph. Look at it either close up or far away and you see the girl.

    2) This is one of the ‘classic’ examples of the technique. The apparent mood of the photographic subjects changes when viewed at a distance compared to when viewed close up, such that the one that appears calm when viewed ‘up close’ appears agressive when viewed far away, and vice versa.

    3) The dolphin / car is definitely my favourite. It helps that it’s the easiest to form through unfocussing.

  8. these don’t really work for me…up close or far away
    i) is a girl with and without her face paint
    iii) is a sketchy dolphin and a fuzzy car
    so that leaves ii) the old smiler/scowler as my fave by default
    Are these type of effects better/worse with glaucoma and or cataracts?

  9. I’d have enjoyed these if I didn’t first have to google “come forward- stand back illusion” and then figure out which of the many definitions applied in this case (No, it doesn’t seem to be a foreground/background thing, I don’t think it’s one of those magic eye pictures, Super Mario World doesn’t help…) Next time, please provide an explanation, or at least a link to one.

    I finally gathered that the pictures are supposed to change when viewed close-up as opposed to far away. For me, #1 doesn’t change at all — even when the screen is so far across the room that I can’t make out the picture. #2 does exhibit a change of expression, and with #3 there’s a definite change.

    However, both #2 and #3 are so blurry that it’s obvious they were created specifically to illustrate an illusion. Look at #3 in particular: It’s obviously two different pictures merged together…so is it really surprising that when we look at it, we see two different pictures?

    I guess I just prefer illusions in which one thing looks like two things, rather than those in which two things look like two things.

    Sorry. In general I really enjoy the illusions you post here, and I’ve amazed and delighted many friends by sharing them. Please keep up the excellent work.

  10. I could only see the illusion when I got up and walked half way across the room. Dolphin was definitely the favorite in our household.

  11. No one mentions what I saw in #2. The left hand picture changes from a fuzzy male face to a clear female face.

    1. The same for me.The angry male face changes into the female face of the right picture, only in lighter grey, while the female face seems to change into the angry male face from the left picture (but it stays quite blurry for me).

  12. I didn’t see a change in the first image.
    The third image is fun. At close-up, one can already see the fuzzy car.
    The second image is the most interesting and effective. I agree with some comments above: not only is there a total change, or exchange, of facial expression between the two images, but also a change in gender.

  13. I didn’t see a change in the first image.
    The third image is fun. At close-up, one can already see the fuzzy car.
    The second image is the most interesting and effective. I agree with some comments above: not only is there a total change, or exchange, of facial expression between the two images, but also an apparent change in gender.

  14. Pingback: Cataracts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s