How To Draw Incredible Optical Illusions

Here is a new book project I am working on commissioned by Imagine Publishing. The provisional title of the work is “How To Draw Incredible Optical Illusions” [You can get this book from Amazon US or Amazon UK]

This book will dissect the most fascinating and confounding black and white optical illusions, patterns and tiling, explaining in a concise fashion how they work, how to design and create them, and how to personalize and play with them to your heart’s content. With accessible yet fascinating text and workable samples, this intriguing art ‘cookbook’ is appropriate for graphic designers, teachers, artists, art lovers and the curious who enjoys contemplating how the mind works and how the eye sees.

In the excerpt below I explain how to create a self-moving pattern.


After rotating, expanding illusory movements, let’s try something different: a continuous ascending/descending movement of droplets… Here we go.
Draw a triangle and its mirror image as depicted in fig. 1.a. Add graduated shading to both triangles: one with black to dark gray, the other with gray to white gradation (fig. 1.b).
Erase the contours of the geometric shapes and form the first cell (fig. 1.c), which will allow you to create this amazing illusory two-way motion.

Starting with the basic cell, prepare now a series of triangle ‘garlands’, each being one diamond-unit larger than the previous one, as shown in fig. 2.a. Resize and arrange then each of these garlands in a imaginary rectangle (fig. 2.b) and set them in equidistant rows (fig. 2.c).

You can decide how many rows to create with this technique; in the example below the pattern contains just 11 rows/columns.

Finally copy the pattern, rotate it and assemble it with the initial one to obtain a much larger pattern that combines descending and ascending illusory motion giving an overall impression of a droplets’ whirl.

You can add color or modify the disposition of the patterned columns to enhance the visual motion effect. Now, the black and gray “teardrops” on the left side of the picture appear to be moving up while the ones on the right side appear to be moving down.

Interestingly, with this pattern you can make an experiment to test your dominant side: If the ASCENDENT motion is dominant in your visual field, then you are right-handed. But if the DESCENDENT motion is dominant, then you are left-handed.

Below you will find more excerpts of the book.

Originally published at