Hands up: who remembers Magic Eye pictures being all the rage back in the 1990s? The countless hours you spent squinting at psychedelic photos, desperate to see what everyone else spotted straight away… But Magic Eye images aren’t just a bit of fun. And they don’t just reveal a shark or an elephant when you look hard enough. Oh, no! These brightly hued pics can tell us something quite important about ourselves, too.
First, though, you need to get your head around the premise of Magic Eyes. And it’s actually fairly simple. All you need to do is gaze at an otherwise random collection of colors and patterns in a certain way, and a three-dimensional shape will seemingly leap out. But for some folks, that’s easier said than done.
And if you’ve still not managed to see the hidden figure in any of these pictures, then use this ingenious technique. It even comes courtesy of the Magic Eye makers themselves, so you know it has to work! According to this official method, you need to start by “[holding] the center of the printed image right up to your nose.” Obviously, the pic is going to appear blurry at this stage, but it’s totally okay. Then you should “focus as though you are looking through the image into the distance.”
Got it? You’re almost there. The Magic Eye website continues, “Once you perceive the hidden image and depth, you can look around the entire 3D image. The longer you look, the clearer the illusion becomes. The farther away you hold the page, the deeper it becomes.” Not so difficult, really!
But where did the whole idea of Magic Eyes even come from? And why were we all suddenly staring deeply into squiggles and swirls in the last decade of the 20th century? Well, you should know that scientists have been using Magic Eye images – known more formally as autostereograms – long before peering at these pics became a popular leisure activity. In other words, they were not designed solely for our amusement.
Dr. Bela Julesz is credited with coming up with the very first random dot version – in black and white – way back in 1959. And he did so in order to test stereopsis, which is the human ability to see objects three-dimensionally. Stereopsis involves the blending of two similar pictures into one, and this nifty process allows us to view something in 3D.
Then Dr. Julesz’s work was taken up by a student of his called Christopher Tyler. And with the assistance of Maureen Clarke – a computer programmer – Tyler was able to go even further by creating single-image versions, or autostereograms. Yep, those are exactly what Magic Eye pictures are. Who knew?
What does staring at these stereograms tell us about ourselves? Well, there’s more than you’d think. And they’ve proved something valuable to scientists, too. You see, researchers wanted to learn more about how our eyes turn different pictures into a single coherent one, and stereograms proved ideal for that task.
There’s a technical term for what the scientists were looking at. Yes, you guessed it, it’s stereopsis. And Professor Jenny Read from Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience has a neat explanation for this phenomenon in her paper Stereovision and strabismus. She wrote, “Binocular stereopsis, or stereovision, is the ability to derive information about how far away objects are – based solely on the relative positions of the object in the two eyes.”
So, stereopsis is a pretty crucial ability. In fact, without it, we’d always be seeing double! But considering stereograms are used to analyze visual depth and three-dimensional sight, you may be wondering why they aren’t 3D images themselves.
Interestingly, the original random-dot stereogram actually involved two pictures. Mental Floss’s Matt Soniak explained its history in a piece from 2012, writing “[Dr.] Julesz would generate one image of uniform, randomly distributed dots. Then he’d select a circular area of dots within the image and shift that area slightly in a second image. [So,] someone viewing the two pictures side by side perceives a circle floating above the background – even though the random dots had no depth cues. This supported [Julesz’s] idea that depth perception happened in the brain and not in the eye itself.” Neat!
But, of course, Tyler and Clarke eventually worked out that they could achieve the same results with one image. Soniak explained, “Their research revealed what was happening in the eyes and brain when viewers looked at stereograms. When presented with an image like this, your eyes might each look at two different points, but because the image is a repeating pattern, the brain is tricked into thinking that the two spots are the same thing. The brain then perceives depth, with the two points as being on a virtual plane behind the pattern.”
Soon, though, these mind-bending images were used for a rather different purpose: to create fun optical illusions. That’s where Magic Eye comes in. The Magic Eye concept was the brainchild of engineer Tom Baccei, 3D artist Cherri Smith and programmer Bob Salitsky, who joined forces to tease and tantalize us all throughout the ’90s.
And there’s an intriguing explanation as to why Magic Eye pictures appear the way they do – to some of us, anyway. “Magic Eye… works by manipulating a repeating pattern to control the perceived depth and hide a three-dimensional image in a two-dimensional pattern,” Mental Floss’ Soniak revealed. “[It] starts with a programmer creating the hidden image… as a grayscale, smooth gradient depth map where dark points that should be furthest away are darker and closer points are in lighter shades. Then they create a 2D pattern to camouflage that image.”
But that’s not all. Soniak continued, “Finally, a computer program using a Magic Eye-patented algorithm takes the image model and the pattern and orients repeating patterns to the intended depth of the hidden image. [Then], when someone looks at a Magic Eye, the repeating pattern feeds the brain the depth information encoded into it, and the brain perceives the hidden picture.” And that, dear reader, is how it all works!
Magic Eye products have proved quite the moneyspinners, too. Amazingly, the company’s first three books were on The New York Times Bestseller List for an incredible 73 weeks between them. Now, there are 30 Magic Eye books in total, with over 20 million copies having been sold worldwide. That’s an awful lot.
But none of this explains why some folks simply cannot see the 3D images in Magic Eye pictures. Well, there are two potential reasons for this! If that sounds like you, then perhaps there’s a problem somewhere in your stereo or binocular vision. It could be that you could have a misalignment in one or both of your eyes.
There may be several reasons why you have a binocular or stereo vision impairment – astigmatism, for instance, or even cataracts. But don’t head out to your optometrist right away if you fail to see the images lurking in Magic Eyes! You may just be looking at the pictures all wrong.
Yep, we’re sorry to say that your Magic Eye technique may be, well, a little lacking. All you need to do is to focus your eyes on the image for a length of time and experiment with moving the colors both closer and further away. And with a bit of practice, that 3D figure should swim into view for you.
Perhaps you’re still unsure if you can see the magical visions contained within. In that case, try the official technique for yourself on the following pictures! Yes, without further ado, here are 20 of the most popular Magic Eye pictures. Let’s see if they work for you.
At first, this Magic Eye picture may remind you of an old television set. Remember the static you’d see on the screen when the TV wasn’t tuned in properly? But dig a little deeper into this image, and you’ll find something much more fantastical. A rearing unicorn should jump out of the blur.
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you! This red image – which dashes across your screen from left to right – contains a moving shape hidden within. Relax your peepers, continue looking, and you will be amazed by the vision of a shark swimming across your screen. On the hunt for prey, perhaps?
Some Magic Eye pictures reveal images that are more impressive than others. It’s all a matter of opinion, of course, but this one in particular is a doozy. Gaze into the abyss, and you will soon discover the name “Leyla” partially submerged in water. Pretty special, right?
Stereograms are all about visual depth perception, and they don’t come much better than this particular illustration. The reveal is a winding spiral contour, which could be interpreted as any number of things. Mesmerizing.
The real beauty of a Magic Eye picture? Unless you’ve had some sort of pre-warning, you never know what’s going to leap out at you. We’ll give you a clue about this one, though: it wouldn’t be out of place around Halloween. Yes, the 3D image within is a rather intimidating-looking skull.
Magic Eyes may be tied to the ’90s, but this example has a rather more modern twist. Yep, it reveals something that has become very much ubiquitous in the 21st century: an emoji. Gaze at this particular picture, and you’ll soon be met by a playful yellow guy with his tongue sticking out. Maybe you could DM this to a buddy when they’re next being rude?
Let’s be honest for a moment: not every Magic Eye image will have you gasping “wow” in amazement. Yes, while the concept is pretty compelling, some of the 3D reveals themselves are just a little, well, boring. But that’s not the case with the majestic-looking feline that shows itself here. You can almost reach out and pet it.
Animals seem to be a big favorite of the makers of Magic Eye pictures, with everything from horses to sharks immortalized in the classic series. This image conjures up visions of frozen woods, which is pretty appropriate. Why? Well, the creature lurking within would be well at home in such a setting. Yes, it’s a fearsome lone wolf.
There’s definitely a trippiness to this particular picture. It’s like an album cover from a 1960s psychedelic rock band! But if you can tear your eyes away from the bright colors and focus, a pair of bells should rise up out of the madness to meet you.
Even as a 2D image, this pic is pretty arresting. That sequence of swirls or spirals running left to right is neatly interrupted by what could be described as a ripple effect akin to a stone being thrown into a pond. But this definitely is a autostereogram. And the reveal is another swirl or spiral.
Often the constituent parts of a autostereogram are interesting in themselves. That’s certainly the case with this example, which appears to be made up of a number of wild animals that wouldn’t be out of place on the African savannah. Neither would the imposing 3D elephant that reveals itself upon closer inspection.
Quite often with a Magic Eye picture, the 2D scene gives absolutely no clue as to what 3D figure will leap from the page or screen. Well, that’s probably half the point! So, you’d definitely be forgiven for imagining a beautiful golden field of wheat or corn when first glancing at this image. Look on, though, and a rather noble hawk reveals itself.
This autostereogram has a lovely reveal. It’s rather regal in itself, with all of the shimmering golds conjuring up images of a crown or some other piece of finely crafted jewelry. That said, the 2D pictures on display at the bottom are a bit of a giveaway that the 3D figure within is indeed of a ring.
What’s the first thing you think of when you look at this particular image? A swarm of bees, perhaps? Or a field of Van Gogh sunflowers? Whatever it is, it’s likely to have a summer vibe. So, would you believe that the reveal is actually an umbrella? Well, perhaps that’s fitting if you live in the famously rainy U.K…
If you stare into this image and are immediately reminded of the coat of a particular African animal, then you’re on the right track. And within moments – as long as your technique is right, of course – you should be met by the rather lovely sight of a trio of zebra. A family, perhaps?
This one will help pick you up in the morning. The coffee beans are, of course, very easy to spot. But get your divergence right while looking at the picture, and you’ll also be met with a nice hot beverage of some sort. We only wish that we could reach into the screen and grab it…
This is an intriguing-looking image in itself. But keep on gazing, and you’ll be able to make out the unmistakable contours of one of the world’s most iconic buildings. Want a clue? It’s in India. Yes, that’s right! It’s none other than the magnificent Taj Mahal.
There’s definitely something fantastical about autostereograms, don’t you think? And this example certainly takes that otherworldliness and runs with it. The marvelous creature that rises up to meet us here is the famed Pegasus of Greek mythology. In case you don’t remember from your school days, it’s basically a horse with wings.
This one is a nice little variation on an autostereogram, as the image of what may or may not be Earth reveals a message that could well be deeper in meaning. The letters that appear say “H20” – the chemical formula for water. And given that our planet is covered in the stuff, that seems quite appropriate.
Isn’t this just a close-up of a sweater? Well, no, it’s definitely an autostereogram! And these particular colors combine to create a chilly atmosphere that doesn’t make the 3D reveal seem out of place. For reference, the image is of a downhill skier in full flight.
But we can tell you even more about yourself, as the way your brain analyzes these optical illusions reveals a lot about your personality. What you see in them – or put another way, how your mind interprets them – may say more about you than you realize.
50. Forest or feline?
At first glance, you may see three trees looming in front of a sunset in this illusion. And if that’s the case, then you’re incredibly perceptive – a trait that serves you well. You’re also easygoing to the point that you’re happy whiling away hours doing very little. But what if you actually spotted something else?
Maybe the first thing that sprang out at you was the face of a cat or tiger. This suggests there’s a certain single-mindedness to your nature – much like a big cat stalking their prey. Yes, seeing a predatory feline in this image likely means that you’re determined and tend to stick to any decisions you make.
49. Sound or vision?
Still not sure whether you’re an introvert or extrovert? Well, this illusion should clear things up. If the first thing you saw in this image was the saxophonist, then you’re an extrovert. That’s right: you love to socialize and often are the life and soul of any gathering. People fall over themselves to be buddies with you, in fact. But be careful not to burn out. Remember to rest once in a while to recharge your batteries.
If you initially spotted the outline of a face, by contrast, then you’re probably an introvert. Parties or crowds and excess noise can leave you feeling run-down both physically and emotionally. You’re more of a homebody, then, who doesn’t need to be told twice about burning the candle at both ends – well, unless you often stay up late binging your favorite shows.
48. Spell or enchanting visage?
What is it that you can see in this illustration? Perhaps a face is most prominent, and if that’s the case then you’re likely laid-back and approachable. People may feel comfortable unloading their problems on you, too, as you’re sympathetic and genuinely care.
But maybe that’s not what you spot at all. Instead, you may see a witch waving a wand at a figure kneeling before her. That means you’re ambitious in all your endeavors. Whatever the task at hand, you have to be better at it than anyone else. But while it’s good to have lofty aspirations, don’t let yourself burn out trying to achieve them.
47. Hold still…
Sometimes our eyes can play tricks on us. Take this illusion, for example. There’s something about the color and make-up of the bubbles here that may make it appear as if they’re moving. Well, don’t worry, you’re not going mad – not according to us, anyway.
There’s nothing wrong with your eyes, either, but just more going on in your brain. You see, noticing the bubbles whirling around suggests that you’re musically inclined. You may be a virtuoso or just have a good ear. Either way, you have a great sense of groove – and probably some nifty moves on the dancefloor.
46. A monkey puzzle…
Can you see a tree in this illustration? Well, if that’s the first thing you spot, then you probably possess great organizational skills. Perhaps you’re even a natural leader with a knack for solving problems. But while these are all great qualities, a little blue-sky thinking won’t hurt – especially if it helps you realize a long-held ambition.
If, on the other hand, you saw a gorilla, you may be your own worst critic. Notice the lion to begin with, instead? Well, that makes you a strong person who tends to go with their gut. And if you managed to spot the fish in the first instance, then you likely operate in the here and now, with faith and positivity that things will always work out.
45. Tree’s a crowd…
Stare at this multi-faceted illusion for long enough, and it should reveal three distinct images. There’s a baby here, for instance, and seeing this vision first suggests you frequently love to carve out alone time – so don’t let people make you feel bad for not wanting to paint the town red. There’s also a couple looking out over a bay beneath some trees.
If you were immediately drawn to these lovers, you’re more inclined to be loyal to a small group of friends and shy away from the commotion of crowds and big parties. But if the trees were the most prominent thing to you, then maybe you’re full of energy. You take life’s challenges in your stride, too, and live for variety.
44. Which ball’s bigger?
Optical illusions are all designed to play tricks on us. But although many of these cunning images deliberately mislead our eyes by combining different pictures, others are all about perception. Take a little look at these two balls, then, and see which you think is largest.
If the ball in the background appears bigger to you, then perhaps you’re a natural leader. You may be good when it comes to attention to detail as well. Or does the one in front loom a little larger? If that’s the case, then you probably prefer to take a back seat. Even so, people value your input and tend to seek out your advice.
43. Naturally obvious?
What is it you can see most clearly in this image? A nature scene? Good for you! That means you have plenty of get-up-and-go. You live life in the moment and are up for new adventures. And routine is probably a total bummer. Instead, you like to mix up your activities so that you never do the same thing two days in a row.
But there’s also a hidden face in the image. Can you see it? It’s looking toward the bottom of the frame. If that’s the most obvious thing about the illustration to you, then you like to be organized. Yes, you’re a stickler for planning, and knowing exactly what you’ll be doing tomorrow and beyond gives you a sense of security.
42. Predator or prey?
What is it that you see most clearly when you look at this image? If it’s zebras, then that suggests you love to be surrounded by people. You’re a bit of a chatterbox, too, and love a party where you can make new acquaintances. You may also prefer winging your way through situations rather than following any mundane routines.
But if a lion stands out, you prefer the quiet life. You’d rather spend time with a select few friends or one-on-one with a partner. And loading up on snacks while watching a movie at home is probably your idea of fun. Crowds of people just drain your energy, meaning you tend to avoid them at all costs.
41. What leaped out at you?
What did you see first here? Well, if you spotted a maid cleaning the floor, it’s likely that you’re great at finding answers to tricky issues. That means friends often come to you for words of wisdom – and for good reason. If the face with a ruffled collar immediately struck you, on the other hand, then you’re probably unique. Yep, you walk to the beat of your own drum, and that’s no bad thing.
But that’s not all. Finding the skulls first in this image says that you’re fearless and a risk-taker. If you saw the man in bed, though, you may be a worrywart. Then there are the two knights. If you spotted them straight off the bat, then you probably depend on a strong support network. And while seeing the ballet dancers to begin with may mean you’re secretly a hopeless romantic, that’s not necessarily the case if you initially focused on the mustachioed man. Instead, you’re more likely to be a creative who looks at things as a whole. Finer details may flummox you.
40. Face or flowers?
Notice the face of a beautiful woman? That also reveals something about your personality – and no, we’re not talking about being prone to a wandering eye. In this instance, seeing the woman in this image means that you’re generally tuned into your immediate environment. This helps make you a sound judge in many situations, and your gut reactions are usually spot on.
But what if you can only see flowers? Well, apparently, you like to leave the fast pace of everyday life behind and relax in nature. This doesn’t mean you normally take the world around you for granted, mind. And if you’re ever feeling a little frazzled, you now know just what you need to do.
39. Cat or mouse?
Normally, if you tell someone that you can see a big blue cat, they’ll probably offer you medication – or at the very least an eye examination. Strangely enough, though, if you spot a feline form in this image, it actually means that you’re a realist. You’re down to earth when it comes to life, and by seeing the bigger picture you’re able to better plot your way through.
If the mouse is most obvious to you, on the other hand, then you have an optimistic disposition and like to try and find the positives in any scenario. And while some may believe that you’re prone to flights of fancy, you’re still actually in tune with your surroundings. It’s just that you happen to always see the glass as half-full.
38. Skull or woman at the window?
Can you see a woman peering out of a window in this image? If so, look out! This may mean that you’re unaware of impending dangers – even deadly ones. And though you’re occasionally impulsive, you also have a tendency to be gullible and trusting – sometimes to your detriment.
However, if the skull is more prominent to you, then you have a realistic approach to life. In fact, anyone who’s not close to you may perceive you as a cynic. That’s not quite true, as you have a pragmatic view of the world rather than a pessimistic one. You can also accept that nothing lasts forever.
37. Cliff, cat or face?
What stood out to you first in this image? If you spotted the cliff, you probably have a positive outlook and so can tackle pretty much anything life throws at you. Maybe you saw the white cat curled up on the clifftop? That suggests you’re someone who dislikes change and prefers to keep their emotions in check. People can rely on any promises you make, though.
But if the first thing that jumped out at you was a face, then that’s a sign of creativity. You see opportunity all around you and are highly inquisitive. Learning more about the world is key for you, as is finding contentment. Maybe you’re also naturally intuitive with a fondness for literature, poetry, music and art.
36. Color us confused…
Colors, too, can play a part in character analysis. Take this image as an example. Which shade is most prominent in your eyes – blue, yellow or turquoise? Well, yet again, your answer could give a surprising insight into your temperament.
If you see a lot of turquoise, then The Wonder List claims you’re a restless risk-taker whose imagination fuels a creative streak. Those who mostly notice the deeper blue, on the other hand, are very analytical and have perfectionist tendencies. And if yellow dominates for you, then apparently you’re both easygoing and adaptable.
35. Explosion or lovers?
If you still haven’t learned anything about yourself yet, perhaps this apocalyptic image will offer a clue. Or does it really show the end of the world? Well, if it’s an explosion you see, then you may be easily scared – especially of the unknown. You can be forgetful, too, and from time to time you may even be at war with yourself.
If you look more closely at the image, however, something emerges from the billowing smoke: a couple caught in a passionate embrace. And if that’s what stood out to you first, then, apparently, relationships are incredibly important to you. Family, friends and partners will always take priority in your life.
34. Shakespeare or a woman in bed?
Oleg Shuplyak is an architect by trade. In his spare time, though, the Ukranian creative likes to make mind-bending art that blends famous faces with more everyday imagery. And Shuplyak’s work can reveal a lot about your personality – especially your least desirable characteristics. Take this William Shakespeare portrait as an example. What jumps out at you first?
If it was the Bard himself, then apparently people may be put off by your self-centeredness. Did you spot the woman lying on the bed instead? Well, we have more bad news: your slapdash approach to life may be harming your romantic prospects. And if your eyes were immediately drawn to the man in a turban, that’s not much better, as it’s possible you’re the covetous type. Finally, if you spotted the rose on the floor, then your naive nature is potentially off-putting. That’s according to an analysis by website YourTango, not us – so please don’t shoot the messenger…
33. Squirrel or duck?
This illusion identifies which part of your brain is dominant. If the animal you see in the illustration is a squirrel, then it’s said that you’re a logical thinker and great at analyzing things. That’s a sign of the left hemisphere of your brain being the one that does a lot of the conscious work.
Conversely, if a duck pops out at you, then the right hemisphere of your brain is the one with the greatest influence. Your talents revolve around being creative and artistic rather than methodical and scientific. And don’t worry, as this doesn’t actually mean that one side of your brain is disconnected from the other.
32. Frog or horse?
For many folks, an image of a frog leaps out of this illustration – pun completely intended. What that says about them is that they are forthright and have a no-fluff approach to communicating with others. They’re seen as stable and self-assured, too. But what does it mean if you see a horse instead?
Well, if the illustration looks more equine to you, then you’re considered to be contemplative with a penetrating intellect. Not everything is necessarily as it first appears to you, and so you’re prone to looking for deeper meaning in things. You’re unlikely to be swayed by others’ opinions, either.
31. Bears or mountains?
Ah, a snowy mountain vista. If that was your first impression of this beautiful image, then you’re probably rather perceptive. You’ve come to trust your gut responses to situations when making decisions – a method you usually find reliable. But maybe you couldn’t actually see the mountains for the gray bears.
Usually, instinct would tell you to flee when confronted with bears. However, if that’s the prominent image you see here, then you have a very systematic approach to decision-making. You like to look at all aspects of an argument and fully understand it in order to come up with an efficient solution – which should still be to calmly walk away when you see a bear!
30. Tree or faces?
It’s perhaps pointing out the obvious to say that there is a tree in this image. If that’s the first thing you spot, then you’re said to enjoy your own company. And while you may prefer to distance yourself from others, you do still like to be among nature and the people you value the most. Apparently, you’ll also do your best to avoid upsetting your nearest and dearest. But is a tree all you can see?
If you look a little closer, you may see a couple gazing at each other. Perhaps that was even the first thing that stood out to you. If that’s the case, then you’re the sentimental type with a penchant for optimism. Using your rationality and thoughtfulness, you may even be able to help the most unsettled and flustered people compose themselves.
29. Saxophonist or woman’s face?
On first appearance, this picture may look like a Rorschach inkblot. If you keep focusing, however, you may just pick out a saxophone player. See it? Great, as that tells you the left side of your brain dominates your thinking. This means you’re excellent at interpreting situations and are probably good at learning new languages. Your razor-sharp perceptive skills may also make you the go-to person in your friend group when your buddies need words of wisdom.
On the other hand, if you can only see the image of a woman, then the right side of your brain tends to dominate. That means you’re a creative type who may like to engage in a whole host of artistic endeavors. Your emotional intelligence is strong, too, and you can be enterprising when it comes to overcoming life’s hurdles.
28. Seal or donkey?
If the first animal you spotted in this illustration was a seal, congratulations! You’re a master of logic, and this will help you in many sticky situations. It also goes without saying that you’re a whizz at math. But that’s certainly not all. The way your mind works means that you can learn new languages pretty quickly, too.
If the predominant image is of a donkey, however, then you’re perceptive and may have a sixth sense for predicting consequences. You like to work autonomously without interference from supervisors, as freedom is all to you. And when you’re faced with a tricky conundrum, you like to look over all possibilities to find the best potential choice.
27. Girl, skull or outdoors scene?
This illusion has three layers. If the girl stands out, then it’s said that you’re an imaginative type. Your air of mystery draws people to you, although rousing so much attention may make others a little envious. And you’re an enigma when it comes to relationships, preferring to reveal yourself to a partner gradually rather than all at once.
If you saw the outside view, on the other hand, then you’re reckoned to be reliable. That doesn’t make you boring, as you also possess a great sense of humor. You may even be able to influence the mood of a room at a party – perhaps through cracking a joke or two. And if a skull is most obvious to you in this image, it apparently means that you’re caring, charismatic and intelligent. You’re also able to assess circumstances without bias.
26. Lion or bird?
Are you wondering why you and your best bud see different things in this image? Well, it may be down to your subconscious mind. Psychologists tell us that our subconscious acts as a kind of dumping ground for everything we experience – even the things we don’t remember. And this part of our psyche can influence how we act in day-to-day life.
When you look at an optical illusion, then, your subconscious may influence what you see first, and this in turn can tell you a little about your own personality. So, if you spot an exotic bird in this image, you could be a bit absent-minded – although that idealistic streak of yours can be put to use in making the world a better place. If this illustration appears to show a lion, however, then you like to dig deep on issues. You’re also very brave – even when it comes to facing your own insecurities.
25. Village or elephant?
There are two things going on in this illustration. The most obvious for you may be a village scene, complete with what appears to be straw huts, trees and a flock of birds. Anyone who sees that image most prominently is believed to be a stickler for routine and not keen on rocking the boat. And if that’s you, there’s something else in the picture that may not be obvious straight away.
Yes, look deeper, and you’ll spot the outline of an elephant in the sketch. If that’s the vision that seems most obvious to you, though, then it’s been suggested that you treat others with consideration. You’re also a fiercely devoted friend who listens to your buddies’ problems intently. And we stress that in no way does it suggest anything about the size of your ears…
24. How many dogs?
Here, you may be able to see the rear end of a dog, tail floating behind as it scurries off the right side of the frame. And if you’re nodding right now, then you’re somebody who tries to be creative when it comes to solving any issues. Using an outside-the-box approach is practically second nature to you, in fact.
If you noticed the dog’s snout pointing into the picture from the left of the frame, on the other hand, then you have a very rational approach to life. You tend to deal with problems using your head rather than your heart, taking a practical view on tackling any issues that concern you.
23. Crocodiles or bird?
What do you see here? If it’s two crocodiles touching snouts, then you’re someone who likes to be in the driving seat. That means you’re probably far better at being a boss than you are at taking instruction from other people. As a leader, however, you’re unlikely to rule with an iron fist.
But if it’s a bird you see first in this image, then the roles are reversed. You’re the one who serves others well. That’s not to say you’re a pushover or subordinate – it’s just the role in which you most shine. And as somebody who is agreeable and affable, you’re seen as a person who can be relied on.
22. Squirrels or a woman’s face?
See those adorable squirrels perched on a tree limb? Not only are they cute, but they can tell you something about yourself. Spot the critters first in this image, and you’re likely to be the apple of your boss’ eye. Why? Well, you can quickly solve problems without looking too deeply into them.
There’s also a woman’s face here, which not everyone can see at all. Try looking at the image with your head tilted to the left if you haven’t already spotted it. But perhaps that was the first thing that came to mind. This means you’re unusually attentive, which may benefit you in social situations as well as in the workplace.
21. Crocodile or boat?
What’s the first thing you see when you look at the image above? Is it a silhouette of a crocodile, teeth bared and with its nose pointing toward the left of the picture? Or do those “teeth” actually appear as waves lapping at the side of a boat with two figures aboard?
Well, if the boat stood out, website The Powerful Mind says that you’re likely to pay attention to the little things. You’ll probably also come across as inventive, idiosyncratic and even unique; at the same time, though, you should take care not to get lost in specifics. If you saw the crocodile, on the other hand, you’re likely to be more pragmatic and wary. Take a few chances sometimes if you can.
20. Pillars or figures?
One of two images should come into view here depending on whether you focus on the lighter elements or the darker areas. At first glance, you’ll probably have noticed either three white columns or two shadowy figures. And, intriguingly, what you spotted could tell the world a lot about how you live your life.
If the pillars stood out, then The Powerful Mind claims that it’s likely you prefer safety and calm. You may also spend more time thinking about your objectives rather than working toward achieving them – meaning, from time to time, you may have to take risks even if they feel uncomfortable. If the figures are more prominent, however, this suggests that you’re mercurial and perhaps a bit of a maverick. Your curiosity prevails over any instincts you may have to stay in one place.
19. Woman or man?
What do you see in this image? If it’s the back of a young woman’s head, then, according to The New Zealand Herald, you’re inquisitive and see the positives in life. You may also enjoy charity work or helping people in need in your community. Be wary of making knee-jerk decisions, though, even if you’re likely to see tasks through to completion.
If, on the other hand, you initially perceived an old man with a mustache, then The New Zealand Herald assesses you as loyal, trustworthy and level-headed. You’re likely to be dependable and honest with an ability to find the right way forward and lead others to this, too. Still, while you’ll usually follow a carefully plotted course to avoid impetuous choices, you should be mindful that aspiring to perfection can be stressful.
18. Explosion or thumbs?
This image was created by the Israeli artist Noma Bar, who specializes in using negative space to create ambiguous illustrations. And of his work, he has explained, “An artist using ‘negative space’ relies on the space that surrounds the subject to provide shape and meaning to the hidden images. Of course, the term also refers to any topic that conjures feelings of unease and discomfort.” So, what exactly do you see here?
Perhaps the yellow-to-red gradient looks like an explosion. If that’s the case, then according to website The Wonder List you have good organizational skills and outstanding leadership qualities. If, however, you immediately see the black space that looks like two thumbs, then you have compassion for others and are kind and generous.
17. Binoculars, car or letter?
There are not two but three things you may see when looking at this image for the first time. You could have spotted a man wearing a hat looking through a set of binoculars, for instance. Alternatively, you may notice a car perpendicular to a road. Or maybe the letter “A” even jumped out at you first?
If you saw the man, then, it’s suggested that you’re better at seeing life in the round rather than sweating the small stuff. If the car initially grabbed your attention, however, then you value liberty and moving through the world according to your own rhythm – even if you may get caught up on finer details. And the letter “A”? Well, if you visualized that first, then you may have a strong ability to think laterally.
16. Faces or candlestick?
Does this image show two faces staring at each other? If that’s what you see, then according to The Powerful Mind you’re an extrovert who loves social gatherings. You’re the center of attention at parties, and your energy levels are given a boost when you are interacting with others – especially if they’re on the same wavelength.
However, if you saw a candlestick first, then The Powerful Mind describes you as less of a people person. You’re probably contemplative –perhaps even shy – and prefer to be left with your thoughts. It’s more likely that you relish alone time at home rather than going to parties, and you prefer the company of a few select people to mingling with crowds.
15. It’s all about gender…
There are multiple perspectives to this illusion depending on whether you are a man or a woman. The Powerful Mind says, for instance, that women who see the man’s face first may either be looking for a passionate romance or are already closely bonded to a current partner. If they notice a woman’s face first, though, then they are likely to be mentally strong and self-assured.
Similarly, men who see the woman’s face to begin with may be on the lookout for a long-term partner with whom to settle down. If they spot the man’s face first, though, then they may have worries about bonding with other men – be it at work, among friends or in social spaces.
14. Moon or birds?
What do you notice at first glance in the above image? Do you see a round face with a mustache and closed eyes? Or do you perceive two birds in front of a full moon in the night sky? Well, the answer to that question could give valuable insight into how you interact with people around you.
If you saw the face first, for instance, then The Wonder List suggests that you are tactful, personable and do your best to avoid disagreements. Your instincts serve you well, too. On the other hand, if you noticed the birds initially, then you’re likely upbeat and hospitable with a knack for getting on with strangers. Often, you’re also a good sounding board for those close to you.
13. Mask or figure?
Can you see a superhero mask? Or is it lingerie? While to some, this picture obviously shows Peter Parker’s crime-fighting disguise, for others there’s clearly a white bra on a red background. So, what immediately comes to mind when you gaze at this image?
Well, The Wonder List claims that if you saw Spider-Man, then you have a very placid, reticent and unflappable nature. You’re probably a stickler for tradition, too, and don’t enjoy rocking the boat. If you noticed a bra, on the other hand, then you generally seek out excitement in your life and are open to trying new things. You also take each day as it comes and generally live life without regrets.
12. Bird or feline?
This image was created by the U.K. investment and loans company Funding Circle. And it’s the firm’s belief that what you see first can determine what kind of role would best suit you. Professional types that Funding Circle has identified include the go-to person, the business creative and the big-picture thinker. So, do you see a lynx or bird in flight here?
Well, if you spotted the lynx first, then it’s Funding Circle’s belief that you’re the type of person who can see the big picture. This would make you suitable for jobs that involve brainstorming, team assembly and project management. If, however, you saw the bird, then you’re more of a go-getter with entrepreneurial flair. People will depend on you to get the job done.
11. Vase or silhouettes?
This is Vase Ambiguous Figure, devised by Danish philosopher and psychologist Edgar John Rubin in 1915. You may also know it as Rubin’s Face or Figure-Ground Vase. And those names clue you in to what you may see in the image. Do you spot a vase first, or can you see two people looking towards each other?
It’s been suggested that those who initially see a vase have the ability to see an overarching view of a situation. If that’s you, then you’re probably also someone who has little regard for detail. Those who immediately home in on the faces, however, tend to be more in tune with the finer points of matters, and so they may realize the importance of smaller actions in achieving a greater goal.
10. Skull or woman?
This 1892 illustration by Charles Allan Gilbert is called All Is Vanity, and – depending on your perspective – you may immediately notice either a foreboding skull or a woman gazing into a mirror. What does that all mean? Well, if you see the skull to begin with, you may tend towards broad views; spot the woman first, however, and you’re likely more detail-oriented.
There are other interpretations of the illustration, however. As the woman seems to be staring at her reflection, she may be considered a little narcissistic; the skull, meanwhile, is perhaps an insinuation that we’re all the same underneath. It could be said, then, that what viewers see first is an indication of how they value themselves.
9. How many superheroes?
What is the proper plural of Batman? Is it Batmans? Or Batmen? And while you may think there can only be one masked avenger patrolling Gotham City, there are two in this image. Or are there? Maybe you see arguably the most fearsome of superheroes, Wolverine – he of the metal claws and surly disposition – instead.
This is a more modern take on optical illusions. It’s said, you see, that those who originally spot two Batmans – or Batmen – facing each other are fans of DC Comics. Those who see the tufts of Wolverine, on the other hand, are apparently more partial to rival Marvel Comics.
8. Lots to spot…
There are multiple symbols to be found in this image. Can you spot balloons, roses, a tilted cross, an open book, a lion, a tie, a heart and a smiley face? Well, pay attention to which you saw first, as according to website YourTango it may reveal a lot about your personality.
Apparently, if you spotted the open book initially, you’re smart and instinctive; if it was the roses, however, you’re calm and see the virtue in everything. The tilted cross means you’re giving and faithful, while the balloons signify an upbeat nature and an active imagination. If the heart stood out, meanwhile, you’re tender and affectionate, while seeing the lion first means you’re intrepid and fearless. And the smiley face represents jocularity and optimism – in contrast to the tie, which stands for diligence and resolve.
7. Coming or going?
The photographer Joaquim Alves Gaspar shot this image of a man in a tunnel in around 1970. As only the individual’s silhouette is visible, though, it’s impossible to tell whether he’s walking away from the lens or toward it. So, what does your interpretation say about you?
Funnily enough, there’s no definitive answer to this. It could be, though, that the observer’s point of view suggests they naturally possess either a positive or negative state of mind. Fear of people leaving is sometimes linked to anxiety, for instance. And, by contrast, perhaps those who believe the man is walking toward the camera generally have a more positive outlook on life.
6. Woman or skull?
At first glance, you may think that this is an image of a skull. On closer inspection, though, you may also see a woman leaning forward and grasping her head between her knees. And according to The Powerful Mind, if the skull was your first pick, then you may be indecisive and lack clarity in your direction.
Conversely, if you saw the woman first, The Powerful Mind suggests that you’re defensive in your responses. You see, her posture is a very shielding one – something to which you may relate. The website explains, “The woman represents your inner regret, and [the image] could shed some light on regrets in your own life.”
5. Your loving nature explained
This illustration is purported to reveal your romantic style. If you can see an old man, then, you’re open to amorous grand gestures, but they’re not the way to your heart. You prefer to keep working at a relationship to help it go the distance. Does the man riding a horse jump out at you instead? Well, in that case, you’re probably constantly on the lookout for Mr. or Miss Right – so much so, in fact, that you risk missing them completely.
If your focus is on a girl lying by the river, meanwhile, it’s likely that you’ve been burned before and fear commitment because of it. And if the stone bridge resonates with you most, then you’re more enamored with the prospect of falling in love than actually taking the plunge. You’re a bit of a non-conformist, too.
4. Trees, roots or lips?
There’s plenty to see in this image, so what appears to you first? Is it a dense forest, or do the abundant roots stand out? A plump pair of lips may materialize, too. And whatever you spotted to begin with may give away how you approach a given situation.
For instance, if you saw trees first, then the website Bright Side claims you’re more driven than most and perhaps possess perfectionist tendencies. The roots suggest, by contrast, that you’re more forward-looking and strive to make things better. And if the lips were most prominent, then you tend to take situations at face value and don’t read too deeply into anything.
3. The elephant in the room…
At first glance, it’s fairly easy to see the silhouette of an elephant in this image. However, spend a little longer gazing at the picture, and other animals may finally reveal themselves. Can you see a cat, a dog or a mouse – maybe even a donkey? And the greater the number of creatures you spot, the more clues are revealed about your personality.
According to The Wonder List, you’re unconcerned with details and maybe even dreamy if you can only see up to three animals. Manage between four and seven, meanwhile, and you’re more attentive – though lacking in motivation to try harder. And if you notice between eight and 13, you perhaps inevitably possess a knack for spotting details.
2. Old or young?
This more complex image is the work of Mexican surrealist Octavio Ocampo. He produces art that is open to interpretation by the viewer and where, as he puts it, “nothing is quite as it seems.” So, what’s the first thing you spot in this piece, Forever Always?
Well, some may see an old couple looking back to their youth when they were carefree and having fun. If this is what comes to mind first, then you’ve lived a satisfying life and are content with how it has played out. If you initially perceive the young couple, however, then you may still be relatively youthful and carefree – and safe in the knowledge that you have a good support network around you.
1. Which woman do you see?
This well-known optical illusion – created in this form by William Ely Hill – dates all the way back to the early 20th century, although it may have existed in other incarnations even before that. And research carried out by two professors of psychology suggests that people see different things in the picture depending upon how old they are.
The illustration is called “My Wife or Mother-In-Law,” and academics at Flinders University in Adelaide showed it to 393 people aged from 18 to 68. And the Australian study showed that the eldest 10 percent of participants saw the old woman looking toward the bottom left of the frame first. The youngest 10 percent, by contrast, initially spotted a more youthful woman peering over her right shoulder.