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!

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?

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. 

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?

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?

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?

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.

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!

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?!

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?

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?!

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