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Optical Illusion: Create One With Any Color Photo

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This instructable will show you how to take negative afterimages to another level. By introducing a negative color photo and then immediately incorporating a black and white version of the same photo, you will perceive the black and white photo in full color (the way the color photo was meant to look). This can be done with any color photo!

If you've ever seen negative afterimage optical illusions, you know that they can be baffling and sometimes quite spectacular. They often involve staring at a negative image for 10-20 seconds and then looking at a blank space. The usual result is seeing what some call a "ghost image" of the negative image, yet it is seen as a positive image (i.e. the way it is supposed to look). These are a well understood retinal phenomenon.

This is a very simple project, yet it is extremely effective. The way that our eyes and brain perceive and interpret images allow for us to trick ourselves in this case. After viewing this over and over, the same effect happens each time. It can be frustrating in terms of trying to figure out why this illusion happens. Ultimately, it is my hope that you will find this helpful, intriguing, and boat-loads of fun!!

Here is a video of the completed project which shows the optical illusion in its entirety:



 
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Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
photoshoplogo.jpg
Windowsmoviemakerlogo.jpg
You will need:

1] A color photo file
2] Photo editing software that allows you to:
a) "invert colors" or create a "negative image" (almost all programs out there, including Paint, have this feature)
b) make a black and white version of the photo
3] Video editing software (this is optional but very helpful in yielding the best results)

Step 2: Choosing a Photo

I highly recommend using a photo that has rich colors and a lot of contrast. This will stimulate your eyes more and ultimately enhance the effect of the optical illusion.
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These illusions never work for me. I blame the colorblindness
Puzzledd3 years ago
This is a fabulous trick- so easy (I don't have Paintshop, but just used Microsoft Picture Manager, and set colour saturation to 0 to get the greyscale image- took a couple of seconds). I used a colourful picture of birds- great purple after-image!

Thanks for this 'ible- and a really good explanation, too :)

I'm off to find some more colourful pictures to use!
Um, actually that should be -100 for the Hue setting. I also raised the midtones a bit in the B&W version if it was a bit dark.

This picture has the best results of those I tried. You just focus on the dot on the peacock's tail near the centre. The colour effect is quite dramatic.
peacock at Melbourne Zoo 1  .jpgpeacock at Melbourne Zoo 2  .jpg
greeenpro (author)  Puzzledd3 years ago
I'm glad to see that you experimented with this and are excited about it. That's really cool!! Caution: this process can be addictive...hahaha. Thanks for your comments.

I was checking out your featured ible about the 40 something uses for old CD's. That was a GREAT ible. I subscribed :)
Hmmm... I love taking photos, now that they're digital, and virtually free- and I do like finding different things to do with all those photos sitting in my computer... I have a few fun things already, maybe I should do a guide or an Instructable on them...

Too many ideas, too few hours in the day:P

Oh well, one day...

Thanks for your comment and for subscribing, I do hope to do some more soon!

greeenpro (author)  Puzzledd3 years ago
"Too many ideas, too few hours in the day:P"

So, so true. I'm stil waiting for a time manipulation instructable. Anyone? Please?

:D
cool i had to watch the video again and not look at the dot just to see if you faded in to black and wight 
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If you look at it after it changes you can see that the image Is black and white.
eulaliaaaa!4 years ago
WOAH!  THAT IS NEAT!
Caspar4 years ago
It's not really an illusion, it just looks like one.   ;-)
Lance Mt.5 years ago
What would happen if you used 2 different but very similar.
greeenpro (author)  Lance Mt.5 years ago
Good question! To my knowledge they would have to be almost identical if they were different. The reason being that, in a sense, the negative image is retained by your brain as you stare at it for 10-20 seconds. The illusion occurs when the same picture is then suddenly presented in black and white. The details or objects in both pictures need to be the same or, again, almost identical for the effect to work. I would like to try it with very similar pictures, but I think it would be a waste of time. I don't think it would work. If you happen to try it, please post a response here with your results.
I am trying as wqe speak. So far i've done one which almost worked. The picture showed up which coloured the face in oddly which was what i was going for, however it was not very effective on the dark image
greeenpro (author)  Lance Mt.5 years ago
Ok. That's what I was afraid of. If I understand you correctly, it doesn't really work when you switch to a different black and white picture.
It works on the light sections and not as effectively as the dark sections. When i switched back i had bright explsoions and grey dirt. However it works, most pictures work. Cheers
greeenpro (author)  Lance Mt.5 years ago
Thanks for the reply. Your research is very interesting. I'm off to try it right now! Thanks again. Cheers
Fantastic video! I didn't realize I was looking at the B&W image unll I looked away. Perhaps you could modify it for the "Teach Me Fast Video Contest"
greeenpro (author)  Infinitevortex5 years ago
I thought about that. It would take a minor miracle to pull off a thorough 30 second video on how to do this (actually you are only alotted 28 seconds because of the Forbes.com logo that has to be displayed for 2 secs.). To explain how to do it and present the illusion would take too long since you need to stare at the negative image so long. Thanks for your comment/compliment!!
You could just tell them to pause it for 15 seconds and then press play. then the photo would only take up about 3 seconds
greeenpro (author)  husker5 years ago
hmmm... *stroking non-existent beard in thought*
supersith225 years ago
very cool. If you look at the color one and go to the black and white, you can see the inverted colors.
greeenpro (author)  supersith225 years ago
That works!
jgeekw5 years ago
yes, rendering your picture in a negative form works, but not as well as taking the hue out of the image. I don't know if your editing software does it, but I have Photoshop and it works much better by adjusting the Hue/Saturation (Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation) Hue slider so it has a Hue value of -180. I will post an ible for this method.
greeenpro (author)  jgeekw5 years ago
Very interesting...I look forward to seeing the results via your ible. I used Photoshop CS3, but didn't want to alter the hue. Thanks!
just got done with it. check it out and comment!
LUCCHINA5 years ago
WOW!!!!
AAAAHHHHH MY EYES! Dude, that hurt my brain lol
greeenpro (author)  gorillailla2025 years ago
Try this quick little one. It might mess with your eyes and brain too:) :

http://www.instructables.com/id/30-Second-Optical-Illusion-Solid-Through-a-Solid/

Haha that was a cool one, but still, that color one of yours was way better.
Lettucehead5 years ago
Nopes. won't work
greeenpro (author)  Lettucehead5 years ago
That's weird. I wonder why. I'm sorry to hear that, but thanks for checking it out.
at last with this knowledge at my finger tips i can rule the world muuwaahaha
greeenpro (author)  bobby sissom5 years ago
Hahahaa...I don't know you, but for some reason that's scary :)
spookee5 years ago
Tight 'ible there man! Something I tried just for s & g is using a different focal point in the image (the fish, for example), then shifting my focus to the actual focal point. For me, that gave a nice smooth transition from the color to the black and white. Anyone else try that?
greeenpro (author)  spookee5 years ago
I just tried it and it was nice and smooth. I love learning from these comments. It's cool to see what other people pick up in your work (unless it's something negative..haha). Thanks a lot!
Sandisk1duo5 years ago
Cool! i'll have to try that sometime!
I have never been able to get them to work... ... hrmph
greeenpro (author)  Stephen D. Alverez5 years ago
Try this method. Have you tried pics with vibrant colors and high contrast? You aren't colorblind, are you? Seriously...that would render this ible useless of course.
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