Deke’s Techniques 100: Creating an Dual-Focus Hybrid Image

100 Creating a dual-focus hybrid image

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

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:

The high-frequency image viewed up close in Photoshop

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:

The low-frequency image becomes visible from far away

Remarkably, both are different optical distances of the very same image.

For members of, 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:

Some high-frequency text as viewed in Photoshop

Which ends up looking like this from far away:

That same image, viewed from far away, dissolves into the low-frequency image

Cub turns into its father, dude turns into a lady. Oh my goodness, it really is fun for the whole family.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 102: Drawing with the Reshape Tool

Previous entry:A couple of videos on Photoshop CS6

  • Dual-Focus Hybrid Imaage


  • wonderful tutorial! ...but,

    wonderful tutorial! ...but, there is a way to see the video? now it’s private…

  • Text

    Hi Deke

    Would it be possible to make with text? :) And how would it work?

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