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Ambiguous Optical Illusions

Triangle optical illusion.

Triangle optical illusion.

What Do You See in These Optical Illusions?

There are many great ambiguous optical illusions in which you can see two different things depending on how you look at them, or how your brain is wired. I have collected a number of such images, including famous optical illusions like the spinning silhouette or the Necker cubes. All of them can be interpreted in two different ways, so don't forget to vote for what you saw in the pictures after looking at them!

The Spinning Dancer Animation by Nobuyuki Kayahara

This famous animation is also known as a left brain / right brain test, which is supposed to tell you which hemisphere is dominant depending on what you see.

Rubin's Vase

The classic figure-ground illusion as described by Danish psychologist E. Rubin. Most people can "switch" between the two perceptions with little effort, so vote for the thing that you saw first.

Duck or Rabbit Optical Illusion


My Wife and My Mother-in-Law (1888 German Postcard)


Hint: the chin of the young woman is the nose of the old lady. This is the first known incarnation of this popular ambiguous image.

The Photographer by Joaquim Alves Gaspar

"All Is Vanity" by Charles Allan Gilbert


Tip: back away from the screen or zoom out to see the skull.

Necker Cubes


Hint: the light gray side can be both the right and the left one.

Good and Evil Ambigram

Rabbit or Duck Illusion


A slightly different rabbit or duck optical illusion. Tip: the bunny ears are also the duck beak.


Hint: the saxophone player is in black.

The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions

The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions

If these few optical illusions aren't quite enough to satisfy your cravings, check out this publication by Al Seckel. The book contains optical illusions of all sorts, from the kind that seems to pulse, spin, or otherwise move on the page, to ambiguous pictures similar to the ones on this page. Furthermore, there are pictures like the Impossible Terrace, reminiscent of Sandro Del Prete's art, which couldn't exist in reality at a second glance. Whichever type you prefer, this stuff will confuse and delight your brain.

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Lee Cloak on February 28, 2015:

Good work out for the brain, thanks! Great hub!

marie-churchman on January 13, 2014:

Freaky, Good, weird lens!

Aladdins Cave from Melbourne, Australia on November 17, 2013:

I was hoping for 3D images. What a bugger.

You know that dancing girl goes both ways! I read something interesting about that dancer illusion. Something about right and left side of brain.

Still looking at your lens's for something that not techie geeky

Catch ya later from DOWNUNDER

sudharnathkoya on August 25, 2013:

great optical illusions chek out my lens too optical illusions

seodress on July 27, 2013:

Really great !

anonymous on January 27, 2013:

@anonymous: Thing is, that guy is walking away from the camera. His feet look like they are pointed back at the camera which they are not. But... the biggest give away would be his hand on his cane. The was his hand is on the cane, and the way his arm is shows he is walking away.

anonymous on October 23, 2012:


anonymous on March 20, 2012:

wow i love illusions

anonymous on February 25, 2012:

@anonymous: WRONG! His foot shows he walking into towards the camera. UNCLEVER!!

anonymous on February 25, 2012:

Me/Shosanna:Why is there no both option!?!?!?!?>:(

Suzanne Kate:Some of these are really retarded!>:O

Calvin:I like the ones where you have to turn them upside down. :)

Zut Moon on February 19, 2012:


Linda Pogue from Missouri on February 10, 2012:

Interesting. I love optical illusions.

Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on January 31, 2012:


anonymous on January 29, 2012:

Love this book. A must have for my boys!!!

anonymous on January 10, 2012:


anonymous on December 13, 2011:

@anonymous: but if u see the right leg of man its going out but his right leg is coming towards that's y we all r confuse

anonymous on December 01, 2011:

@anonymous: he could be left or right handed, don't u think.....?

lindsy_syan on July 25, 2011:

...well i really lyk illusion post whenever im seeing it....

...well it brougth a big essence in mine......hahaha love it...

anonymous on May 22, 2011:

The Man Walking TO the Camera. His other foot is facing the other direction to give the illusion that he may be walking away from the camera. CLEVER

anonymous on May 05, 2011:

When woman spins, my brain make it to spin counterclockwise, then my brain fixed it into clockwise, kinda funny eh? ;D others i could see both ways. first came 10 cubes then i tried to see 6, and it worked too. at animal, i saw rabbit head first, then i saw full body then i can see duck, but i can change it in my mind as a rabbit. Good word came first then i readed whole info then i saw evil, now my brain can't decide :). man walking towards. woman lookin a mirror ( i can see both ways). i saw lady first then i saw grany. but mainly lady. Thanks, Stranger!

anonymous on April 24, 2011:

@anonymous: if you haven't noticed his foot is turned the way that would make him walking towards the camera.I just thought I'd tell you.

Wedding Mom on April 21, 2011:

The first duck or rabbit, I don't see a rabbit. The man is walking towards the camera. I only see 6 cubes. Very nice Optical Illusion, I like it so much.

Iam43d on March 27, 2011:

The spinning girl is the hardest one but by staring at it I can get her going the opposite direction.

anonymous on January 09, 2011:

hey there all rubish they're just shown on every optical illusion page

anonymous on December 20, 2010:

wow wow intrestinggggggggggggggggg

DecoratingEvents on October 28, 2010:

Loving these Illusions! Leaving an Angel Blessing!

Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on October 25, 2010:

Very interesting illusions and a clever idea for a lens page. The spinning lady is fascinating.

Othercatt on October 22, 2010:

Very entertaining! Blessed.

anonymous on September 16, 2010:

it's a fun lens though I've had a hard time to figure things out.

anonymous on September 09, 2010:

Fun pictures to look at. Cool lens!

anonymous on June 24, 2010:

@anonymous: then again, look at his feet.

anonymous on June 08, 2010:

@Mickie Gee: The man has to be walking away from the camera, if you look at how he is holding the cane you can tell.

Mickie Gee on May 31, 2010:

Absolutely fascinating! I could not figure out the image of the man walking away or toward the camera.

Blessed today by this Squid Angel!

Patricia on November 22, 2009:

Fun lens! Blessed by an angel!

Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm on November 15, 2009:

This was an incredibly fun lens, I LOVE IT!!! Keep up these type of lenses, they rock!

5 stars, Li Li

GrowWear on August 13, 2009:

Aw. Have not seen some of these. Fascinating! Thank you. ...And congratulations on your Giant Squids Summer School graduation. :)

anonymous on August 13, 2009:

Great lens, lots of fun!

anonymous on June 22, 2009:

I normally see two things but did you know that some people can see the spinning lady spin one way then the other? I managed to do it once, but it is very hard.

Andrew Po (author) on June 17, 2009:

[in reply to PaulaFarris]

Thanks! I can usually see the both things too, except in the spinning silhouette picture that is. But I thought it would be better to give people options to vote for what they see first, or what they see "naturally" without really trying to make out other things in the picture. Else I expect 95% of votes would be of people being able to see both things and the voting wouldn't be so interesting :)

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on June 16, 2009:

Very cool. I have see the woman spinning before. I am one of those rare people who can get her to go in both directions. Well done.

Linda Hoxie from Idaho on June 16, 2009:

These are fun, I think I have seen some ot them before. My mind tends to switch back and forth easy too, except the spinning girl, clockwise only! Great lens.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on June 16, 2009:

I always love those and find it easy to flip between both possibilities.

PaulaFarris on June 16, 2009:

This lens is awesome! I love optical illusions; they're so much fun. But what about the choice of both for the illusions that seem to switch back and forth between the two options? Just a thought. In the old woman/young woman illusion I actually see both at the same time. Strange how the mind works. Five stars!

Teddi14 LM on June 16, 2009:

I love this stuff. Great idea for a lens! I love how you incorporated the voting with each image.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on June 16, 2009:

I love these things. The spinning lady drives me nuts, I've seen her before and I really can only get her going clockwise 95% of the time.

davidhallstrom on June 16, 2009:

Good illusuions. I enjoyed them. Worth more than 5 stars.

Andrew Po (author) on June 15, 2009:

[in reply to molly6342]

That's very interesting. I can only see her going clockwise. No matter how hard I try I can't get her to move counterclockwise. Unless I use this trick that is:

And to get her to move clockwise you could look at this:

Thank you for the comments :)

anonymous on June 15, 2009:

Awesome lens. I love optical pics but that spinning lady still has me spinning cause I really can't tell which way she's going. At times it looks distinctly clockwise other times it looks counter....LOL

jaye3000 on June 15, 2009:

That was fun~ great lens :)

Andrew Po (author) on June 15, 2009:

Thank you! :)

bdkz on June 15, 2009:

Wow! This is really creative!

Robin S from USA on June 15, 2009:

Very cool use for the caption module. well done!

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