Kathryn Vercillo profile image

Two Faces or a Vase? Old or Young Lady? 10 Simple but Wonderful Optical Illusions

One of my favorite things that was shown to me during my elementary age years was an optical illusion. It was the very famous Rubin Vase (pictured below) which you can see in either two ways - as a vase or as two faces that are facing each other. It was such a simple trick of the eye to learn how to see both but it felt like magic. I continue to enjoy optical illusions of all kinds because of the magic that they seem to hold within them. Below are ten of my favorites which include the Rubin Vase and nine others that are relatively similar to that one. If you have any favorite optical illusions that are also similar to this then please leave the URL to them in the comments here because I'd love to see them!

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Rubin Vase

This is one of the most famous optical illusions that exists. There are two things that you can see in this image ... In black you can see two faces looking directly at one another. In white, you can see an interesting curved vase. If you're interested in the history Rubin was a psychologist who created this image around 1915 who was interested in the way that images like these play around with our visual perception. Incidentally, this image is also called the Rubin Face since you can see it either way. Which one do you see first?

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Play on the Rubin Vase

Here's an image that is a play off of the original Rubin Vase. In this case, we've got a black vase instead of a white vase. And of course this means that the faces which are facing each other are white faces. The vase here is more elaborate which makes it a little bit more difficult to find the outline of the white faces if the vase is what you see first. It takes some people a little bit of searching but if you can picture a black border around this image and look for the nose of the faces then you should be able to see both the face and the vase. 

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A Real Vase

Believe it or not, this optical illusion can be seen even when the base itself is a real vase as opposed to one that is drawn on to paper. You can see that with this image here of a real vase with flowers in  it. It's a bit more difficult to see the faces here since you're seeing the vase used as a functional vase. However, if you look at the outline of the vase on one side and try to see it as the profile of a face then you should be able to find the image that you're looking for. Does anyone out there see the faces first in this one?

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Old Lady or Young Woman?

Here is another optical illusion that I was introduced to around the same time in childhood as I learned about the Rubin Vase. In this case, you might see a young lady or you might see an old woman. I actually still have trouble finding the old woman in the picture because my eyes so intensely focus on the young lady but I know other people who see the old woman easily. It's funny how our minds play these tricks on us isn't it?

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Another Young Lady

Here's another take on that same image from above. In this case, I actually can't see the old woman at all. Everyone has told me that if I can see the young girl then I just need to look at where her chin is and try to see it as the nose of the old woman. Even though I know exactly what I'm looking for, I just can't make myself see it at all. Do you see the old woman here?

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Face Peering At You

This drawing is a much more complex one so it really intrigues me. I think it's really easy to see both images here. There's a full scene of a woman standing amidst some trees. And there is a face that peers out at you from the image. I believe that it's probably easy to see both here because of the complexity of the image; the simplicity of the others before it makes it harder to see the difference between the two pictures I think. Would you agree? I happen to think that this is one of the most interesting face-related optical illusion drawings that exists.

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Not So Simple Sax Player

Getting back to that simpler black-and-white style optical illusion drawing that we were first introduced to with the Rubin Vase, we can see that there are different images that can be done this way. Do you see the face in white here? or do you see a cartoonish character playing the saxophone outdoors while a cloud floats by? I can see both. Cute!

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Young Woman, Old Man

This one reminds us of both the more complex drawing from above and also of the young lady / old woman images from before. In this case, what you'll probably see first is a young woman who is turned to the left of the screen and is reading a book. However, you can look more closely and see an old man who is turned facing the right of the screen. The woman's dress is the man's beard and her arm is his moustache. How do people come up with this stuff?!

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Face in the Trees

Here's another one that could be a face or it could just be some trees. I happen to find this one less interesting than some of the others because the face looks way too obvious to me. While it's a really cool drawing, I don't find it to be too much of an optical illusion. I know a lot of people who like this one though so I figured I'd include it. What do you think of it?

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Devilish Women

Saving the best for last perhaps, this one seems particularly cool to me (albeit a little bit creepy). What I see first is a really scary devilish face staring out at me. What other people see first is a couple of women standing in front of their own reflections in a mirror. I wonder what it says about you if you're more prone to see one than the other?!


 Last updated on October 30, 2012

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39 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Thank you, Kathryn for this awesome hub! I had a lot of fun looking at all of the images. This might sound weird, but I have no problem see any of the alternate images and can see either image without having to put forth much effort. I often look at the sky on cloudy days to try and imagine different objects all the time. Thanks again.

Nan Mynatt profile image

Nan Mynatt 4 years ago from Illinois

Excellent scientific article! It reminds me of a microscope.

K Kiss profile image

K Kiss 4 years ago from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Level 2 Commenter

some of the pics are really great...however, i can't see the old woman in 'Old Lady or Young Woman?'

NewHorizons profile image

NewHorizons 4 years ago from Gozo, Malta, EU.

HI. Cool stuff. I was only familiar with the Rubin Vase.

To see the old woman in 'Old Lady or Young Woman' concentrate on the ribbon on the neck and see it as the mouth of the old lady. The chin becomes the hooked nose. Should be easy.

To see the old woman in the 'Another Young Lady', it is best to cover the nose and forehead of the young lady with your left hand finger, concentrate on the ear which becomes the eye of the old lady; the chin becomes the nose and the black ribbon on the neck becomes the tight-lipped mouth of the old lady. The face of the old lady is rather large.

Dawn Curio Psyche 4 years ago

I seem to be more like you, in that I see the devilish face before the devilish women, and cannot find the old woman not only in the second picture, but the first as well! In both of them, I see only a young lady.

The vases are a lot easier to see than the faces.

I love optical illusions. I've always thought they are so fascinating. I've always internally theorized that it says something about our personalities, what we see first, and what we can or cannot see.

Choke Frantic profile image

Choke Frantic 4 years ago from Newcastle, Australia

I love optical illusions too. Thanks for sharing =]

me me toka! 4 years ago

i got the old lady/ young lady illusion after reading your comments. THANKS!!!!

Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 4 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

Negative space is an interesting aspect to visual art, and when it is emphasized the results can be fascinating and fun. Many visual artists focus on negative space--some almost exclusively.

This was a terrific hub, thakns for sharing it with us.

Laura A. Bethuy profile image

Laura A. Bethuy 4 years ago

Nice interactive hub. I'd forgotten how fun these illusions are to try to figure out. Although, like you no matter how hard I try I cannot see the old woman in the young woman illusion.

Jessay profile image

Jessay 4 years ago from USA

You are amazing. This is such a great challenge for the mind and eyes.

tanjones profile image

tanjones 4 years ago

great collection. it is hard to find out the face at a glance.

floating mind profile image

floating mind 4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

Really cool hub. Fun with friends as well. Thanks!

 
habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Level 2 Commenter

This was really cool - I love stuff like this! Thanks for sharing.

elyse eaton 4 years ago

I saw the devilish character before I saw the ladies too. I think it was his smile/their arms linked that did it. Eeek.

seasoning 4 years ago

brilliant hub.... these truly are fascinating

kayaty 3 years ago

very cool. i actaully got the old woman and young woman at the same time, for both of them.

Moneylady profile image

Moneylady 3 years ago from Texas

Very Good! Optical Illusions are so much fun!

david 3 years ago

awesome

ChilliWilly profile image

ChilliWilly 3 years ago from Kaunas, Lithuania

Awesome article, very nice job!

Sd 3 years ago

haha nice for the secound imgage of the old lady look at the girls ears to find the eyes and her face is the nose :)

harman 3 years ago

u guys r so cooooool can u put more man u guys , keep up the good work

kierstin willows 3 years ago

i dont see the facr in Face Peering At You

jaisee profile image

jaisee 3 years ago from California

YES! I saw the old lady in the second young/old picture. But not by looking at the chin. I focused on the hair curling around her ear. It became an eye! The chin - a nose, and the necklace a mouth! Then I easily saw the old women in the first young/old picture. I was having trouble seeing that one although I have seen it before.

That was fun. Thanks.

lola_14 profile image

lola_14 2 years ago from kuwait

So Co0o0o0o0o0ol...!! love it so much. Thx

jtyler profile image

jtyler 2 years ago

These were quite interesting. I've seen some of these before, but a lot of these were new to me. The only one I couldn't see was the one with the old lady and the young woman.

Also, I see hubpages added a new "interesting" option, which I pushed.

shauna 2 years ago

its a requirement in some classes of college to see both young and old lady to pass the class

brieee 2 years ago

this is amazing! Really cool! Thanks!

howtojunkies profile image

howtojunkies 2 years ago

wow at "Face Peering At You" creepy cool!

Bryan 2 years ago

Hi Kathryn, very cool and so clever.

A question, do you of an artist who drew animal faces in a jungle scene, at least 12 of them and did a seashore scene which looked like rocks but were actually human figures.

Around the late 70's i first saw these and have been looking ever since, sorry, no name...:(

Rachel Richmond profile image

Rachel Richmond 2 years ago from California

Wow - that was awesome. I didn't see the old woman's face this time...interesting. Thanks for the informative hub. :)

tega gat 2 years ago

Pls pls..... I can't see d old woman.. Am so depresd!

Pls jst send a pix showin d old lady tank u

shrestha monsoon profile image

shrestha monsoon 2 years ago

interesting and fun

Julia 2 years ago

Wish I knew where I could buy prints of these and get them framed.

MOMINA 2 years ago

AMMAZING

RedFireDragon 2 years ago

i luv illusions. especially the face ones! they r the coolest. thnx for sharing these ppl whoever u r XD

juan 2 years ago

i saw the old lady right away. it took me about 15 minutes to see the young lady..

Gaby 2 years ago

well, for thoose who can't find the old woman in "Old lady, or young woman ?" and "another young lady"

you see the young one right ?

at both pictures they wearing some kind of neckleas. It's the old woman mouth

Mia 18 months ago

In "A Real Vase", I do actually see the faces first. Or maybe it was simultaneously... :)

sotheasey 5 months ago

I love these illusion! Well done!

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