3D Printed Optical Illusion Skews Perception – Is It A Cube Or Not?

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Surely you remember the infamous blue and black dress (or was it white and gold) that spawned a thousand online arguments and 3D printed miniature versions back in 2015. Thanks to poor lighting and a low-quality camera, the dress became a mind and eye trick that drove people crazy – just like optical illusions. Also known as visual illusions, these are characterized by images that your vision perceives as being different than the objective reality of the object. The data that the eye gathers is processed by our brains in such a way that the perception does not equal the actual source.

We’ve seen the phenomenon brought to life in many 3D printed examples, from a trippy staircase and an inverted face to a pinwheel and a sculpture that appears to move on its own; 3D printing technology has even been used to explain a maddening optical illusion.

Sage Hansen

Recently, 29-year-old Sage Hansen, who goes by the name 3DSage on YouTube, created his own 3D printed optical illusion, and it’s a pretty good one, in my opinion.

His 3D cube skews our perception, because it isn’t actually a cube at all, but a flat object with three raised pole sections, which shoot up and out at various angles. But, when viewed from the proper angle, the optical illusion, fabricated on a 3D Systems Cube 3D printer, definitely convinces your brain that what you’re seeing is a regular, four-sided cube.

According to Hansen, his optical illusion cube is an update on the popular forced perspective chalk art, which looks distorted from every single angle except one. The illusion, which dates back hundreds of years, is what’s known as anamorphosis. An anamorphic illusion is a distorted projection which only works if the viewer stands in a certain spot; once you move from that spot, the image is distorted and you see it as an illusion.

One of the most famous early pieces in the anamorphic illusion genre is a 1533 painting, titled “The Ambassadors,” by Hans Holbein. The painting features a 3D-looking skull, which looks like a diagonal white disc from every angle – except one vantage point to the right of the piece. Leonardo da Vinci also used the anamorphosis effect in his work.

Hansen, who published the design for his 3D printed optical illusion on Thingiverse, used 3D modeling software to create a virtual 3D cube first, then moved a fixed camera around until he found the best angle and started manipulating the image.

“I tried to design this cube as chaotic as possible so that when viewed from the correct angle, the contrast from the randomness to order becomes more rewarding,” Hansen wrote on Thingiverse. “Pretty cool optical illusion that forces the perspective into a wireframe cube.”

He added lines at various random angles and positions until he was left with a mostly flat object that matched his virtual 3D cube, and 3D printed the design with 20% infill, with no supports, at a resolution of 0.2 mm.

[Image: 3DSage, YouTube]

“This is pretty easy to print,” Hansen said. “I added a version with thin cylinder feet for more surface area to help hold down the model. These can be easily pulled or cut off. Some sanding may be required on the steepest angled line.”

If you’re looking for a nifty decoration for your desk, this probably isn’t it – Hansen says that his eye-catching optical illusion looks the best when you close one eye, or view it from the proper angle with a camera lens. He filmed the process, and the overall effect, of his design, and published the video on YouTube, so everyone can enjoy the head-scratching fun that results from a good 3D printed optical illusion.

What do you think of this 3D printed optical illusion? Let us know your thoughts on this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share in the Facebook comments below. 

[Source: Digital Trends]

 

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