Sunday, February 28, 2016

Painting an Anamorphic Illusion

To celebrate arriving at 20,000 followers on Instagram, I decide to paint an anamorphic illusion.

In this photograph, the "2" and "0" are made of cardboard, and the "k" is painted on the surface of the paper.

The way I do it is to first make all the letters, including the "k," out of four layers of laminated cardboard, cutting them out with a jig saw. I place the letters on a sheet of white paper, and take this photo of them all under a strong light.

Then I use a digital projector (lower right) to project that same photo onto the scene from the position I will be photographing it later. In the photo above I haven't removed the cardboard "k" yet. A simpler way would be to simply shine a sharp light from that position and trace the shadow. 

I will paint the stretched out "k" wherever it goes on the paper. The far edge of the paper is cut so that the top of the "k" sticks over it a little.

(Link to YouTube) Instead of starting with the illusion and then breaking it, I decide to start with a side angle and see if I can make it resolve at the end. I arrange the time lapse camera on a circular dolly, with a geared-down Lego motor providing motion-control. 

As you can see, I underestimate how dark the values have to be to match, and how the slightest wobble is wildly exaggerated. I also let the camera drift a bit too far on the dolly, which gives the "k" an italic tilt.

This popular YouTube video starts with some shots of the real objects, followed by the anamorphic illusions, cleverly using hand-held focus adjustments to sell the trick. I believe they were printed on the paper, not painted. (Link to YouTube)

If you're interested in anamorphic illusions, check out these painted geometric illusions painted on walls.
GurneyJourney on Instagram


Susan Krzywicki said...

Congrats on the 20K! Thanks for sharing the techniques!

Roberto said...

Dito on your 20K!
Here is a link to the environmental artist, Felice Verini, you allude to in your post: “painted geometric illusions painted on walls.”

Felice Verini:

Another amazing environmental artist/muralist you will be interested in is Tracy Lee Stum. Check out her incredible work:

I am currently reading this little gem from the ‘Foundations of Modern Psych Series:

Perception (Foundations of Modern Psychology Series) Paperback – 1965
by Julian E. Hochberg javascript:void(0)(Author), Richard S. Lazarus (Editor)

Enjoy! -RQ

Fabio Porta said...

Congratulations, James!
And great illusion