Shading the Panels in Your Photoshop-Based Coffer Illusion

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke shows you how to add shading to last week’s coffer illusion project in Photoshop. You know, the one with the circles you can’t unsee:

The flat version of the coffer illusion

Deke starts by returning to the original “build” file (which you can grab at the bottom of this post if you want to play along), from which last week’s pattern was created:

Many rectangles from which the optical illusion pattern is created

He then adds light and dark layers (appropriately fine-tuned in the Layer Style dialog box) along with a few other bits of shading:

A shaded version with two extra layers

Then once again creates the pattern, resulting in this volumetric variation of the coffer illusion, one that actually looks like the architectural feature the illusion was named for:

The shaded version of the optical illusion

If you’d like to try this yourself, I’ve attached all the practice files from last week and this week at the bottom of this post.

Deke’s Techniques, trying to make your illusions even more realistic.

Related downloads

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Next entry:Drawing a Classic “Cafe Wall” Illusion in Illustrator

Previous entry:Coffer Illusion and the Hidden Circles


  • This was how we amused ourselves before computers! . Thank you Deke for showing us that today Adobe Illustrator does all this and much more. . p.s. Don’t shoot me for talking about AI on a PS post. Just feelin’ thankful for you today. How weird is that!?!

  • More happiness is always better. Thanks, Thomas. Deke’s laid up with (not, please not) the flu this week. I know he’d be honored to be evoked via spirograph!
  • So sorry to hear Deke is recovering from the flu. Get well soon!! . Below is a photo of one of our Austin billboards. The motto “Come for the Weird. Stay for the Smart” could be a good by-line for Deke’s branding.