Admit it, we have all tortured our eyes with optical illusions and we all love to do it. The fact that we see things that are different than reality intrigues us. We all know ‘the dress’, where you see the dress as gold and white, but your friend is certain that it has the colors black and blue. Or the famous picture where one sees an old woman and someone else a young lady. How is this possible? Why do our eyes see things so differently?

the dress
Old women - young lady
Old women – young lady


Optical illusion, also called visual illusion, is caused by the visual system and characterized by visually perceived images that differ from reality. There are three different types of illusions: literal optical illusions, physiological illusions and cognitive illusions. The first one are images that are created by smaller images, that aren’t related to the overall image. In the example of the elephant, the artist drew an elephant with only legs and no feet, and then he also drew feet without the legs. This resulted in the illusion that the elephant has more than four legs.

literal optical illusions
literal optical illusions

Physiological illusions are the effects of excessive stimulation of brightness, position, color, size, movement… They are the ones that hurt the eyes the most and make you dizzy when you look too long at it. Just have a look at the picture below, you’ll understand what I mean immediately.

physiological illusion

The thirth and last type of optical illusion are the cognitive illusions. They are the result of unconscious inferences. These illusions rely on our stored knowledge about the world and are under some degree of conscious control. So, cognitive illusions arise from an interaction of perceived reality with assumptions about the world, leading to “unconscious inferences”.

cognitive illusion

3D Trophy Factory can make awards that have this optical illusion. We made a polyhedron award that appears to be round, but is actually flat. Have a look at this cool award below:

Polyhedron award: Thüringer Forschungspreis 2017

For more cool awards, don’t forget to check out our website!

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