Picture of Creepy Eye-Following Pictures
This simple trick can be accomplished using photos or copies of paintings.  I wanted "creepy pictures" for my family room at Halloween.  The room's theme is "abandoned house."  I have sheets on the furniture and cobwebs over everything.  These pictures are the perfect decorative accent.

Research has shown that any picture in which the subject is looking directly ahead will have eyes that appear to look at you no matter the angle from which it is viewed.  This is because pictures are 2D representations of a 3D world.  As such, our brains ignore the clues that remind it that we are looking at a flat object and focus instead on the dimensional illusion created by the representation of light in the picture.  No matter the angle from which we see it, even if it is a very skewed view from the side, we'll perceive it as a cohesive picture oriented toward us.

The alteration I'm describing adds an actual 3D effect to the picture which is not consistent with the cohesive view, making it disturbing and, thus, creepier than a static picture with eyes that look directly forward.  It works by receding the eyes below the surface of the picture.  The depth of the eyes allows the edges of the eye sockets (which are not receded) to hide the whites on the side it is being viewed from, just as would happen if an actual person was turning their eyes toward you.

Step 1: Gathering the Stuff

Picture of Gathering the Stuff
You need: 
a graphic file of your picture of a subject looking straight ahead
OR two prints of the same subject that are the same size and resolution
poster board or card stock
a sharp craft knife
a pin
markers or colored pencils
glue stick
frame with or without mat - the effect is easier to see without the frame's glass
lambsb3 years ago
Super duper! I never knew I needed one of these until now.... Great instructable! Hmmmm..... Got my card stock, printer, X-Acto ready. Now for a picture......
Puzzledd3 years ago
Very effective and easy to do, too! Top 'ible:)
damianzuch3 years ago
This is great - I'm going to try it for my haunted house! Thanks so much!
allen.benge8 months ago

When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle had a painting of a Native American whose eyes would follow you. I was terrified of it. To keep me out of a room, they would set a chair in the doorway and put the painting on it.

roadnarrows11 months ago

What works for an even more dynamic effect is to put ping pong balls that have been cut in half behind the photo. The eyes will really freak you out when walking past them.

omg! i have that same book collection!!! this is really cool. i have a shot glass that follows the same concept. theres a picture of a "drunken buddy" on the outside of the glass and the eyes are painted on the inside. so he can watch u take a shot.
What is the book collection you are talking about?
starshipminivan (author)  carolb43 years ago
It's Time-Life Books' "The Enchanted World" series that are pictured stacked on top of pages with glue drying (this helps them to dry flat). The books were published in the 80's and sold through a mail order club. I used to find them for a few dollars each in a used book shop I frequented. I never got the full set though. I might have to look for used copies online to complete the set.
Anyone remember the movie Carrie? The last photo reminds me of the Jesus with the scary eyes!
Win Guy3 years ago
Just an FYI for everyone who's wondering what the painting is, it's a portrait of John Wycliffe Taylor, an oil on canvas from 1864, painted by John Everett Millais.

You're welcome.

Win Guy
TimPo3 years ago
I'd suggest editing a little, with a software like Photoshop or Gimp, the eyes that will be at bottom. Extending the white border of the eyeball, so depending on the view angle decreases or increases this area.
Sorry for my english, I hope it could be understood.

Sugeriría editar un poco, con un programa como Photoshop o Gimp, los ojos que estarán al fondo. Extendiendo el borde blanco del globo ocular, para que dependiendo del ángulo de vista aumente o dismunuya esta area.
starshipminivan (author)  TimPo3 years ago
You can also use the eyes that have been cut out. Glue them onto white backing and use this in place of the eye layer.
hihihi0hi3 years ago
omg thats creepy!
vincent75203 years ago
didn't Leonardo Da Vinci make the same with the Jocunde ???…
mentalman3 years ago
I'm a wood carver this works real good with wood too ,
The trick I was taught way back in the early 60's . By a hippy art teacher .
Make the iris as close to perfectly round as you can.
Then shade the eye into the socket like under the top lid and in the corners.
On a painting or sculpture or what have you. That seems to be the key.
But this method works well too.
I did a fine line ink drawing , just 10 inches tall , of Jesus when I was 18 and people used to get chills looking at it.
They would always comment with excitement .
"Wow ! It looks like he is looking directly at me no matter where I am in the room.
Just never tell them how you did it. and the magic stays with them.
mrmerino3 years ago
Now, the third picture...
That's creepy.
Sheesh, no kidding! Forget putting the eyes back into the picture, just hang THAT on the wall and watch people freak! :D
or just the one with a pin in the eye...this is getting easier all the time !!
frikkie3 years ago
very cool optical illusion.I wanted to make my own one in the past but never did.I m thinking of using the piece of paper with the eyes on them and to make them move left and right just a little bit with small servo motor.This also made me think of an idea were one makes a puppet head that turns and looks at someone in the room.I know there is an electronic circuit that does something like that.
The servo idea is interesting.
With the one picture being REALLY creepy with the eyes MISSING, maybe an intersting combination would be to have this depth eye moving being the default state, then every once in a while SLIDE the eyes with a servo such that they roll up completely leaving the blank eye holes.

Maybe even motion activated, So, someone sees the eyes move as they walk by, then they come back to see what is going on, suddenly the eyes roll up and they get the blank eyes. - really creepy!
That is really cool an I will have to try it this year...thanks
Lorddrake3 years ago
I have always wondered how that was accomplished ... now to have some fun ..

1) alter all the family photos on the wall without telling my wife
2) personal hilarity ensues
3) ???
4) profit
p309 Lorddrake3 years ago
)3 You get your butt kicked by your wife of course
4) I don't see the profit in that? Fill me in on what you meant, please!
simplebeep p3093 years ago
It's a common meme as explained here.
Nice job! And curse my procrastination! I made a following-eye cat painting 19 years ago that came out really well. I hung it in my brother-in-law's house as a joke. It was on my list of Instructables to write in the next few weeks for Halloween.
jimtran933 years ago
I wonder, would putting more layers of card stock between the cover sheet and the eyes make the effect more intense? Any ideas?
Yes, the deeper the eyes are set, the greater the parallax and the greater the "following" effect.
starshipminivan (author)  jimtran933 years ago
Yes, I think it can. A bigger picture will also need more layers (or maybe a layer of foam sheet or cardboard) to create a good effect. You could use scrap paper or cardboard prior to gluing it all together to play with the thickness and see what works best for you.
sheldor3 years ago
Great Instructable! Where did you get the picture, if I may ask? Care to share the source? Thanks! :)
starshipminivan (author)  sheldor3 years ago
A search of flickr will yield a huge array of choices. I searched for Victorian portraits and used the advanced search feature to find results that were both large in size and had a Creative Commons license that allowed for a wide range of uses.
Clever - and oh so creepy!
thats scary if you look at the picture and move side to side it looks like she is watching you through the screen
sunshiine3 years ago
This is awesome! Thanks for sharing your hard work! Have a fantastic day!
Making one! So cool!
qewt3 years ago
Pure Genius!
rachel3 years ago
Cool idea and great implementation! I'm gonna show this to my goth friend :)
aramanthe3 years ago
This is pretty awesome, and especially useful with Halloween coming up. I'm thinking that some of the office photos are due for a little creep factor (other than that from the creepers that work here!!)
ChrysN3 years ago
tinker2343 years ago
wow cool easier than sevros