Come on a time travel to the 90s with me! Do you remember the Magic Eye craze with a series of books overflowing the market and on everybody’s mind? There seemed to be only two opinions. Half the people sitting for hours turning pages and apparently staring at the books with a mysterious happy smile. The rest of the people getting frustrated or commenting that there is nothing other than the obvious pattern there!
Sadly the books popularity decreased over the years. Today I want to bring back the fun that can be gained by viewing pages with magic eyes and introduce everyone to its benefits as well.
The Magic behind it
The book series was called Magic Eye and they are filled with autostereograms like the ones on this page. The magic trick behind it is to focus on the 2D patterns in a specific way which will allow most people to see hidden 3D objects as if flowing out of the picture.
Sounds interesting, but unbelievable? All you can see on this page are colourful patterns? Follow the next steps, with which most people achieve to learn the viewing technique quite quickly with only a little training.
The last section will go into more background details on the health benefits and what might be behind it if you have trouble with this.
Learn the magic and treat yourself now
It might be easier to learn the technique when viewing paper instead of a computer screen. So if possible print the following picture (does not have to be in colour)
- Look at a point in the distance and observe how your eyes feel when having a relative parallel angle
- Place your nose directly on the centre of the image. You will notice that the pattern looks blurry this way
- Imagine the paper / screen is a transparent window through which you can see
- Focus as if you are looking through the paper window at your point in the distance again
- Resist to focus the pattern itself
- Very slowly move the image away from your face while keeping the focus in the same way
- Stop when you can see three circles on top of the image instead of two!
- If you see four circles, continue moving slowly away
- Start over from very close, if you see one or two circles
- When clearly seeing three circles hold the distance and the focus.
- Checking out the picture itself the magically hidden image will appear.
- If you feel like noticing something, but are not sure what it is, then click the link below each image to find out. Often the object becomes clearer once we know, what is hidden.
When you are able to clearly perceive the hidden object you can actually play around with it. Try the following and observe if you can persist seeing with magic eyes:
- Move the image farther away and observe that the object will become deeper
- Outline the hidden object in the same way as when collecting colours
- Move the image or your head and tilt the image to look at it from different angles
Note that there are also stereograms that require cross-eye viewing. When using the parallel technique on those pictures (and vice-versa) you will still see a 3D image, but with inverted depth. Everything will seem like going into the paper, instead of floating over it.
The sad news first: With complete visual impairments affecting one or both eyes one can not perceive the 3D illusion.
The basis of magic eye images is that our two eyes each see a slightly different image of the world due to their natural distance. When you look at something near your face and alternately close each eye, it will seem as if the item in front of you is slightly jumping.
The ability to perceive hidden 3D objects is an indicator that your eyes are working correctly together as a team. The brain receives the two slightly different images and when putting them together the magic happens. The capability also proofs a good depth perception and a relaxed open mind.
If one of your eyes is significantly weaker than the other but can still see something there is hope even if at first you have trouble seeing the magic. You can train with eye-wellbeing techniques to use both eyes together. This will allow you to be able to perceive depth information in your surroundings and as a bonus the magically hidden 3D objects.
Magic Eye images might have lost some popularity in general, but they are used quite often for vision therapy. They help to train and observe binocular vision with an optimally balanced usage of both eyes together. Achieving this can improve your vision and help to strain less.
Furthermore, a lot of people are able to calm their mind and relax their body when viewing with magic eyes. It is a similar state of mind that can be reached for example with yoga, meditation and stress management.
The viewing technique to see brings the eyes into a relative parallel angle as if looking into the distance. But at the same time, it triggers near work for the eyes. Therefore this treat is actually beneficial for everyone since it stimulates multiple aspects of vision in a fun and rewarding way.
As always: Be aware how you and your eyes feel when viewing Magic Eye pictures and only do as much as feels good!
Especially people who are long-sighted might feel eyestrain or headaches after excessive magic eye viewing since the eyes are not as easily able to focus up close. Give your eyes a break and allow them to relax while focusing into the far distance.
Here I have hidden a more complex scene for you:
Here is one more, dedicated to my former colleagues and that was part of a sweepstake I did at a recent conference:
If you like computers, you can also start to create your own Stereograms with hidden images and messages using the online 3d Stereogram Maker.
I can also recommend getting one of the books and place it somewhere like a waiting area in your office or the bathroom. That way whenever you are on a short break you can come back to the fun of seeing what is hidden at first sight. So here is a collection of my current favourites with links to amazon. I hope you do not mind the advertisement, but this way you get even more 3D fun here.
The front cover of this one is very thoughtfully desinged and as the name of the book suggests one of many “Startling Stereograms”:
If you want to read more about the health benefits and “Reduce Computer Eye Strain, Stress & More” as they book describes it, then this one is great for you:
If you are looking for a book full of hidden images, I can recommend this one packed with 88 well-crafted images:
The front covers could have been chosen better, but Amazon offers “Look inside!” for both books, so more fun to have if you head over there.
Sadly the eye catching Magic Eye wall calendar is currently not again available for 2018, but I’ll keep last years link for you to have a look inside online. Living in London I am pretty excited about the preview of the January page: