Create and Prove the Most Perplexing Illusion EVER!




This is one the best visual illusions of all time. Many online viewers have cried "FAKE" regarding the video. Feel free to print out the PDFs (step 5) and see for yourself that this is, in fact, REAL! Are these two tabletops different in size or not? Covered in this instructable are the simple household materials you'll need to create the illusion and the method for proving it to any naysayers (trust will most definitely need to show proof!)

Included below is a short video of the process and its astounding results. When you watch it, you literally may not believe your eyes:

Step 1: Materials Needed

The following household items are needed:

1) One sheet of 8.5"x11" paper

2) Another sheet of paper at least 5"x6" in size

3) Black pen

4) Brown crayon or colored pencil

5) Orange crayon or colored pencil (any color lighter than brown will work fine)

6) Ruler

7) Scissors

8) Red Magic Marker

Step 2: The Creation (Part 1)

Creating this illusion is simple. However, it is crucial that you are precise with measurements. Basically, you will be drawing two 3D tables next to each other. Both tabletops will be parallelograms of the exact same size, yet one is drawn "vertically" and the other is drawn "horizontally" as shown in the photo below (notice measurements that are included in the image notes). With your 8.5" x 11" paper situated in a landscape manner, begin with the bottom-left corner of the left table .75" in from the left side of the paper and 3.75" up from the bottom of the paper. Then start with the bottom-right corner of the right table 1" in from the right side of the paper and 3.75" up from bottom of the paper. Create a 3d effect by adding edges to the tables as shown on the left.

**Edit: The tabletop dimensions should be 4.25" x 2" (not 4" x 2" as shown in the image notes)

Step 3: The Creation (Part 2)

Add tabletop edges to the right table as shown in the photo below. The dimensions are the same, in relativity, as the edges on the left table (notice the image notes as well).

These edges are actually a huge part of what "sells" this illusion because they manipulate our eyes into processing the dimensions of the actual tabletops incorrectly. You can see from the photo below that there is NO WAY that these two tabletops look like they are the same in size. Part of that is the camera angle, but most of it is the illusion itself!

Using your black pen and your ruler, darken the lines as shown in the photo below. This enhances the 3D effect and provides for a sense of depth. It's all about the perspective in the end.

Step 4: The Creation (Part 3)

The final creation phase involves another hugely important part of the illusion: adding color!

Using your brown crayon or colored pencil, color the entire right table(legs and all). Then color every part of the left table brown except for the tabletop.

Using your orange crayon or colored pencil, color the left tabletop.

Step 5: The Proof!!

By all means, this step is imperative. People will doubt the prospect that the tabletops' dimensions are identical. The chances are: you will doubt it as well just by looking at the drawing (even though you just took the time to measure it out and draw it)!

Using your necessary materials and the other piece of paper, measure and cut out a parallelogram (2"x4.25"). With your red marker, make a .25" border within the edges of its perimeter. This will make the proof more obvious and clear.

Place the cutout on the left tabletop to prove that it is the same size as the tabletop itself. Then move the cutout over and place it on the right tabletop. Amazingly, it is now proven that both tabletops are exactly the same size!

If you decide to take on this project, prepare yourself for mass amounts of scrutiny and insults about your sanity (or lackthereof). Just don't lose your proof cutout! :)



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    23 Discussions

    Hugo Burrowes

    2 years ago


    I refuse to believe there isn't trickery involved 8{


    2 years ago

    It took me around an hour and a half to make this!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    These aren't paper illusions but they are still awesome!
    Make sure you see the cat!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I've never even read Discover Magazine. I don't take credit for coming up with this idea though. All credit for the idea of this brilliant illusion goes to Roger Shepard. He is famous for his original version of this one and many other popular optical illusions. That man is the Einstein of optical illusions.

    I just wanted to re-create this for fun. Also, I could not believe my eyes when I first saw it, so I had to draw it out to make sure it was true.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Feel free to print out the PDFs. If you do, you'll see that I colored outside the lines of the tables a little bit....shame, shame :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Nobody's perfect, great Instructable by the way! I fooled my dad with it, and im going to try it out at school :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I can see where mowdish is coming from. When seen live though, this truly is amazing. Thanks for posting! Great video too!

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    It is a good illusion, but you it would be harder to repeat this live. By using the really low camera angle you've significantly exaggerated the effect of perspective in the drawing. One can see this by measuring the length in pixels for each surface's edges. The surface is Top: 74 Bottom: 91 Left: 163 Right:152 and the right surface is Top: 159 Bottom:172 Left: 81 Right:91

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Naturally there is a difference in perpective when viewing the video or looking at the pictures. If you print out the 2 PDFs I've added in Step 5, you can repeat this live and see how striking it is. I scanned the actual drawing (used both in the video and in the pictures) so that anyone can see it live for themselves. Thank you for viewing and commenting.