The Art of the Illusion

The Art of the Illusion

  • 2495

By: Brad Honeycutt and Terry Stickels / Foreword by: Scott Kim

Optical illusions to intrigue the mind and delight the eye.

Viewers try to perceive the visual shifts in a two-dimensional picture, but can’t understand how a single, still image can be so animated and rich. While even the simplest illusions please, this stunning volume goes far beyond the usual collection. Compiled by visual graphics expert Brad Honeycutt and puzzle master Terry Stickels—and featuring a foreword by renowned puzzle creator, computer game designer, and artist Scott Kim—this collection showcases more than two hundred of the finest images from around the world.

With artists ranging from Rafal Olbinski, Rob Gonsalves, and Octavio Ocampo to David Macdonald, Gene Levine, and M. C. Escher, The Art of the Illusion covers the visual spectrum, from the most classic optical illusions to complex graphic and painterly designs that transform the impossible into believable. There are famous paintings, dazzling photographs, and amazing computer-enhanced eye treats that will make you look and look again. There’s “Zipper Beach” with gulls zipping over the sands, “Table Top Towers” where a tower of blocks seems to meld into a city skyline, a librarian whose body is literally composed of books, and so many more astounding pieces. This is a must-have for those who already love optical illusions and those just discovering the wonders of the art.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Brad Honeycutt, author

Brad Honeycutt is a web developer and optical illusion enthusiast. For over a decade, he has operated a popular optical illusion website, allowing him the opportunity to get to know many wonderful artists. He works with two of the world's leading stereogram creators to help publish several books containing their 3-D creations.

Read more about Brad Honeycutt.

Terry Stickels, author

Terry Stickels is well-known for his three internationally syndicated columns. Frame Games™ and Stickdoku™, seen in USA WEEKEND magazine, are read by over 48 million people in six hundred newspapers weekly. He concurrently writes “Sticklers” for King Features, appearing in over two hundred newspapers daily, including the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Denver Post, and the Toronto Star. He also is the featured puzzle columnist for the Guardian, London’s largest newspaper. In addition, Terry finds time to write books for both adults and children and do motivational speaking.

Read more about Terry Stickels.

Foreword by Scott Kim

Scott Kim designs puzzles and games for the Web, magazines such as Scientific American, Discover, and Games. He is the author of the books Inversions and The NewMedia Puzzle Workout, and he speaks regularly at conferences. Kim holds a PhD in Computers and Graphic Design from Stanford University. He is the master of the ambigram, and Isaac Asimov called him "the Escher of the Alphabet."

Read more about Scott Kim.

Editorial Reviews:

Parka Blogs

I always find books on optical illusions fun to read. There's that certain delight you get when being tricked by an image, and also the sense of wonder when looking something improbable while trying to figure out what's wrong.

The Art of the Illusion, a 224-page hardcover authored by Brad Honeycutt and Terry Stickels, looks at the several forms of optical illusions such as drawings, photos, geometric shapes, 3D-like street paintings and others. Other than some of the more famous illusions, there are many new ones that I've not seen before.

Websites for the artists featured are also listed so you can explore more online.

It's a nice book to get if you like illusive art.

Optometry & Vision Science

The advantage of writing this review is that I can keep my review copy, which markedly offsets the efforts to distill my feelings about it into English words—this already says much. The title includes “art,” and that is the major strength of this collection—the artistic universe, mainly spanned by Hogarth, Reutersvärd, Escher, and Magritte, is populated and extended by this book with a sizable number of fabulous artists, many contemporary. Print quality is excellent overall; the few pixelated examples have their own charm. In some scattered variations of the “peripheral drift/snake illusion”—made famous by Kitaoka—the color process seems to have impaired the striking illusory motion effect, which critically depends on luminance levels.

I may not represent the typical audience with my long-standing deep interest in illusions. The typical reader may not miss what this book is not about: It does not describe the perceptual mechanisms leading to specific optical illusions, it does not categorize them (being organized by artists), and it does not give a contemporary vision research interpretation of optical illusions. (My preferred perspective, in brief: Appreciating optical illusions does not mean “we can’t rely on our cheating eyes.” Rather, the usually quite apt inferences of our perceptual system, always based on incomplete information, occasionally go wrong when given atypical input. This is known as the Bayesian interpretation of perception.)

Back to the book. Make sure you have leisure time on hand and a glass of good wine when you explore this book. It invites you to browse and get lost in beautiful, intriguing, and bizarre artwork: so many beautiful extensions of impossible figures, background-foreground reinterpretation, trompe-l’oeil, and more. Recommended.

Keen Readers

WOW! Do you like optical illusions? Are you fascinated by impossible artwork and tricky visual effects? Then this is the book for you! After a foreword and introduction that give information about the many types of illusions that are out there, you can dive into the gallery that dedicates a full page to each photograph or illustration. The 200 illusions are shown against glossy paper which really makes them “pop.” There are examples here of negative space, pictures hidden inside of other pictures, impossible objects, psychedelic patterns that seem to move, 3D objects that magically appear, pictures and words that change when held upside-down, and anything designed to trick the eye. Both modern and older illusions are included—everything from Escher to Gonsalves. This is truly an exceptional and extensive collection that will have you looking, and then looking again. You’ll want to go on the Internet to see what else the artists have created. You’ll want to share this book with family and friends, but you won’t want to let go of it. It’s truly amazing.


With more than 200 full-page color images, this book contains the largest collection of optical illusions and other eyeball-bending images ever assembled. You'll find M.C. Escher's impossible stairway and strange tessellations, Ken Knowlton's portraits made from such objects as seashells and baseball cards, Scott Kim's tricks with type, stereogram hidden images, drawings of impossible constructions, patterns that appear to move, scenes with ambiguous depth or content, classic illusions in which straight lines appear to be bent, and much more. The book also contains a foreword by Scott Kim and an introduction consisting of a brief history of optical illusions, the earliest example of which is a coin from 2500 B.C. that can be viewed as depicting either two bulls facing one another or one wolf staring straight ahead. This book is sure to delight and astonish.


Download the Cover


ISBN: 978-1-936140-71-8

Page count: 224
7 1/2 x 8 3/4

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How to Draw Incredible Optical Illusions