Can you see the hidden image?

Can you see the hidden image?

Celebrating Easter the Simply Clever way: with stereograms. What will come to life if you look at them the right way?

1. 4. 2021 Škoda World

Stereograms have provided hours of mind-blowing fun to millions of people, from the original mid-19th century stereoscopes to the popular Magic Eye books of the ‘90s. What are they, how do they work, how to spot the hidden image without getting a headache and giving up?

A stereogram is an optical illusion of depth created by a flat, two-dimensional image. But if you view the image in a particular way, the three-dimensional image reveals itself in an uncanny way. But getting the hidden image within a stereogram to reveal itself takes a couple of tries to master.

The trick is that our eyes are spaced slightly apart on our heads – each of them views the same scene from a slightly different angle. Normally, we don’t notice this. 

But if you cover one eye and then the other, you start to notice that the image that comes out of each eye is slightly different. When both eyes are open, your brain will combine the two views into something that it perceives as three-dimensional depth.

When it comes to stereograms, you have to split your focus and make each eye focus on separate points slightly parallel to one another. Stereograms trick your brain into thinking you’re focusing on something further away, allowing you to view the stereogram with parallel vision and see the hidden image.

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How can you train yourself?

Here are a few tips and tricks that can teach you how to do it properly. The good news is, once you have successfully trained yourself to look at a stereogram, it will be that much easier from then on.

1. Start by putting your face up close to the printed stereogram or the digital screen with which you’re viewing it. Hold it horizontally and look through the image as if it weren't right in front of you.  

2. Then move the stereogram slowly away from your eyes. This is the point at which your eyes will try to do what they do naturally – readjust focus. Do not let them. Continue to look through the image as you move it away from you. It may take a couple of tries to get this to work. 

3. When you’re confident that your eyes can continue to look through the stereogram, move the image back and forth until the patterns begin to overlap. You should be able to see the beginnings of a blurry three-dimensional picture.  

4. Give your eyes a little while to adjust. Once the image snaps into place, you should be able to see a sharp three-dimensional picture.

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Still not seeing it? Try to train your eyes this way: 

1. Choose an object in the room you’re in – a photograph on the wall or a potted plant on a table in the corner.  

2. Pick up the stereogram and look at the object that you’ve selected. Move the stereogram up from underneath the object until it’s blocking your view of the object.

3. Continue to look at the object and not the stereogram, even when the stereogram is blocking it. This means that your eyes will remain focused on the object instead and won’t readjust on the stereogram.  

4. Once you’re able to keep your focus on the object and not the stereogram, try repeating this at different distances away from the object.  

5. There should be a sweet spot in which you can begin to see the blurry three-dimensional picture within the stereogram when you raise it to your eyes.  Once you can see this, try holding the stereogram up while allowing your eyes to slowly adjust. The image should snap into place and become recognizable.  

6. If you lose focus, stay where you are and lower the stereogram, focusing again on the object behind it. And try again.

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It’s important to note that some people will unfortunately never be able to see stereograms.  These are usually people who have binocular or stereo vision impairments such as deviations or misalignments in one or both eyes, astigmatism, or cataracts. However, most people should be able to view stereograms with a little practice.

90s Icon

Stereograms came roaring into popularity with the release of the Magic Eye books, a series of books released beginning in 1993. The first book quickly shot to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. After only a year, Magic Eye had already released two incredibly popular sequels that achieved similar fame and stereograms became iconic. From postcards to cereal boxes to neckties, you could spot a stereogram on almost anything, featured in countless television shows and movies, from Seinfeld to Friends to Captain Marvel.

What should you see in the stereograms? If it doesn’t work, take a look in the media box below. You’ll see the solution there for sure.

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