This Barbie optical illusion genuinely surprised me

Optical illusions come in many forms, but I actually think this one is the most entertaining. Themed on the hot topic of current popular culture, Barbie, this illusion is a little like another we recently reported on (see this Ken optical illusion) – it’s even made by the same artist, but this time it stars the main character herself. 

Created by digital artist rishi.draws, who uses their skill to astound us by drawing optical illusions using a stylus and tablet, this illusion (called an ‘afterimage’ illusion – more on that later) genuinely surprised me. This one is a strong contender for our roundup of the best optical illusions.

Simply stare at the image for 30 seconds, then close your eyes and tip your head back slightly. The image that’s revealed is photo realistic – in fact, it’s like watching a photo develop in front of your eyes. This illusion is best experienced in a light room – so head to one and try it out for yourself. 

So, what is an afterimage illusion? It’s a type of illusion in which the image keeps appearing in front of your eyes after you’ve finished looking at it. There are positive and negative afterimages, and they work slightly differently.

rishi.draws’ illusion is most like a negative afterimage – where the colours you see when you close your eyes are inverted from how the image originally appeared. This happens because part of the retina called the rods and cones get overstimulated and become desensitivised, creating the reverse illusion. 

A positive afterimage does the opposite – the colours remain the same because the cells on the retina continue to send signals to the brain, and so you keep seeing the same image. Amazing, huh?

To create your own digital art illusions, try one of our pick of the best drawing tablets out there, or see our choices below.

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