This “Coloured” Photo Is Actually Black And White


Cover image via Øyvind Kolås

The mind is a powerful thing, but nothing is always as it seems. For example, take a quick look at this photo:

It's just a cute coloured photo of a bunch of students holding up a terrapin, right? Well, not quite. 

While the photo may look like a coloured photo at first glance, it's actually a black-and-white photo with thin colour grid lines drawn over it, "tricking" your brain into filling in the missing colours!

Here's the photo again so you can take a closer look:

According to David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, the illusion happens because "you see a blurred version wherever the image is not in your central vision". 

If you still can't pick out the gray parts, here's a super zoomed in view of a section with blue grid lines drawn over it. Crazy, right?

It is also said that it's easier to pick out the gray parts if the image is bigger. 

The image - created by digital media artist and software developer Øyvind Kolås - has gone viral on Twitter, rendering many stunned by the clever optical illusion

Image via
Image via

Kolås calls the technique 'colour assimilation grid illusion', which achieves its effect by layering an "over-saturated coloured grid" over a grayscale image, causing the grayscale cells to look like they're coloured

Image via Øyvind Kolås

In a Patreon post, Kolås wrote that he was inspired by David Novick's Munker illusions (below), in which balls of the same colour seemingly take on a different colour depending on the stripes that overlay them

He added that he also experimented with different patterns, such as lines, Lorem Ipsum text, and dots, but found that the illusion worked best with grids.

Kolås also shared a video showing how the illusion can also work in moving images:

Well, consider our minds blown!

Image via Giphy

Remember when these optical illusions divided the Internet?