Seeing three dimensions in two dimensions

Let me tell you right off the bat here that this isn’t an April Fool’s post. I promise you that.

I’ve just learned from The Observation Post that April is apparently ‘National Humor Month’*; this post isn’t meant to be funny. I promise you that, too.

I can already hear you asking: “Well, if this isn’t meant to be a jolly jape, what are you blithering on about, man?”.

I’ll tell you what I’m blithering on about: autostereograms.

Here’s one (click on image to embiggen):

An autostereogram to demonstrate 3D viewing of a 2D image

Image credit: Gene Levine via Wikimedia Commons

It’s not a very exciting example, but there are no copyright restrictions on my using it here.

“But what is it?” I hear you say…

Well, this image has been created in such a way that if you unfocus your eyes in just the right way, you’ll be able to perceive it in three dimensions, not just the two it appears to be. Your best bet is to click on the image here so that you can see a larger copy of it. Just relax your eyes and try looking through the image. It may take you a few minutes before you get it.

You can tell if you’ve succeeded by moving your head from side to side; if you’ve got the right focus you’ll be able to see depth to the image.

As I mentioned, this isn’t exactly the most exciting example of an autostereogram. But there are loads of them on the web, just search for autostereogram. Some images are better than others: here’s a particularly good one by Scott Pakin.

You can get posters of autostereograms to hang on your wall to amaze your friends. I have a couple myself, one’s quite an impressive example, featuring an underwater scene — the way the shark leapt out at me the first time was quite an experience, let me tell you…

… and if you do think I’m pulling your leg, please let me know in the comments :)

* Going by the u-less spelling of ‘humour’ I assume that the ‘nation’ in question is the USA.


About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
This entry was posted in ... wait, what?, art, illusion, Phlyarology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Seeing three dimensions in two dimensions

  1. You haven’t taken your pills today have you! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Squashy Moss says:

    I know magic eyes pictures work like this autostereogram thingy kind of. I can’t see them so not going to spend long looking at you picture. What I meant to see?

    • pendantry says:

      You see much the same picture, but in three dimensions. The sharp red jaggedy bits are in the distance; the green is much closer, and it looks like you’re looking through them to see the red jaggy bits.

      In the 2D picture there are four oval shapes: when you can count five of them you’ve got the right focus.

      As I said, this isn’t a particularly exceptional example, there are far better ones out there. But I think this is a good image to practise on. Once you can see one, you’ll have learnt how to see many of them.


  3. David Redpath says:

    Chromostereopsis !
    Your post very informative, as always.
    My old stereo, playing some opus,
    can also take me to dimensions
    previously unseen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. savvystreaks says:

    I can see it, the three dimensional image. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have no idea what I just clicked on. 😅
    What is this witchcraft?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pendantry says:

      No witchcraft, just an intriguing illusion that I first encountered some years ago. Can you see the image in 3D?


      • It’s pretty cool, yknow! Took me a good few seconds to see the 3D shape – I think it’s amazing that one image can be seen in two completely different ways, purely based on the perspective/outlook of the mind… Something that can be extended to the realities of everyday life.

        Or maybe I looked into the picture too deeply! (*shrugs*)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. manmeet singh says:

    Exciting posts bro

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My eyes hurt now lol I looked at a bunch , I think my brains over thinking it and waiting for the shark to jump out..

    Liked by 1 person

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