This week’s technique demonstrates how to create a very specific and internet-famous flavor of optical illusion. When viewed from far away, today’s image appears as one thing; when viewed close up, it appears as another.
Note that throughout the video, I toss out two vocabulary terms: “high frequency” and its evil twin “low frequency.” It has been brought to my attention that I didn’t really define those terms, so here’s the skinny: High frequency implies extreme contrast between neighboring pixels, which translates to sharply focused detail. Low frequency is the opposite, subtle contrast between neighboring pixels, which translates to blurry detail. In other words, sharpness vs. softness.
Here’s the official description from lynda.com:
Today’s technique shows how to create a dual-focus image. More to the point, it documents how to make an optical illusion in which a photo looks like one thing from a distance (lion) and another close up (lion cub). When I suggested to Deke that we call this movie “How to make an optical illusion,” Deke’s response was, “Everything about Photoshop is an optical illusion.”
Maybe so, but this week’s free movie demonstrates how to create the kind of image that contains both high-frequency (close up) and low-frequency (far away) data, so that the image changes based on your visual distance. These are technically known as hybrid images, and this week, Photoshop and Deke give you the tools you need to create them.
If you’ve encountered the famous Marilyn Monroe/Albert Einstein image, you may be familiar with this effect. In this case, Deke applies Photoshop’s High Pass filter to a photo of a lion cub, ensuring that the high-frequency data sears that particular image in your mind:
But he also applies the Gaussian Blur filter to the adult lion, so that if you back up (or squint), you’ll see little Simba’s father benevolently watching over him:
Remarkably, both are different optical distances of the very same image.
For members of lynda.com, I have a follow-up video called “Adding Text to a Hybrid Composition,” which I mention it at the end of this movie.
Just to clarify, here’s the close-up image:
Which ends up looking like this from far away:
Cub turns into its father, dude turns into a lady. Oh my goodness, it really is fun for the whole family.