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How to Create a Vector Optical Illusion

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In this tutorial we'll learn to create three types of optical illusions. Learn how easy it is to fool our brains. You'll not believe there is no curved lines on the chessboard.

Step 1

We will start by creating the Impossible 3D object. Let's open a new document in Illustrator (File > New) and enter the size 800 px by 800 px (but you can choose any size you want). I used the CMYK color mode to use it for printing.

Start by dragging a ruler line down from the top and placing it as your horizon line. If you don't have your rulers, use Command + R, or go to View > Show Rulers. Create two vanishing points (left and right) on the horizontal guide outside the document. Name a layer "Horizon" and lock it.

Step 2

Create a new layer and name it "Columns." Create the rib of the base of the left column - make a vertical line by using the Pen Tool (P), while holding Shift. Now, connect the upper point of the rib on the right and left vanishing points. Repeat the same with the bottom point of the rib, using the Pen Tool (P). Do not worry about closing paths in this step.

Step 3

Create two ribs at the base of the left column. The vertical lines note the ribs of the other two columns. Please note, distances are reduced in the perspective.

Step 4

Add the other ribs, connect the top of the base to the vanishing point.

Step 5

Use the Scissors Tool (C) to cut and remove unnecessary segments.

Step 6

Close the paths in such a way that we have three faces of the cube. Using the Lasso Tool (Q) to select the neighboring points of the top. Go to Object > Path > Average... Both and Object > Path > Join. Add the ribs to close the paths. For clarity, I filled the faces of the cube with different colors.

Step 7

Repeat the same technique with the other columns.

Step 8

Create three columns by using the Rectangle Tool (M). The thickness of the columns and the distance between them is slightly reduced in the perspective, but the thickness of the columns and the distance between them shouldn't be very different. Create other elements of columns by using the Rounded Rectangle Tool and the Pen Tool (P).

Step 9

Create a new guide and rotate it using the Rotate Tool (R), as shown below. Pull down the left top of the column to intersection with the guide by using the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 10

Now connect the top of the right column and the right vanishing point using the guide. Pull down the top of the column to the intersection with the guide using the Direct Selection Tool (A).

Step 11

From the right vanishing point we'll create another guide and create a shape - the lateral side of the crossbar by using Pen Tool (P).

Step 12

Select the right column and the crossbar, then hit Add from the Pathfinder palette. Then hit Expand.

Step 13

Create three guides, as shown below. Tops of the middle column pull down to the intersection with the guide from the right vanishing point. Create a shape - bottom side of the crossbar by using the Pen Tool (P).

Step 14

Create a new layer and name it "BG." Create a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M), and fill it with a linear gradient you see below. The colors go from C=57, M=54, Y=64 and K=32 to C=51, M=49, Y=62 and K=20.

Step 15

Now we'll fill the elements of the columns. Use the Gradient color that goes from C=57, M=47, Y=48 and K=14 to C=30, M=27, Y=31 and K=0.

Step 16

Now add a gradient fill for the torus on the columns. Apply a radial gradient from C=12, M=15, Y=23 and K=0 to C=75, M=67, Y=66 and K=87.

Step 17

Create a shadow by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Apply the settings you see below.

Step 18

The bottom of the columns should look like a cylinder, and the top as a prism. Fill the left column with the color: C=66, M=60, Y=66 and K=56. Copy the column and Paste in Front (Command + C, Command + F).

Step 19

To a copy, apply a linear gradient with the colors that go from C=66, M=60, Y=66 and K=79 to C=45, M=44, Y=56 and K=0.

Step 20

Paste in Front the shape of column again, and fill it with black and white linear gradient.

Step 21

Select the two upper shapes and apply an Opacity Mask.

Step 22

Fill the middle column with the color C=52, M=51, Y=61 and K=22. Now apply the same technique as in steps 18-21.

Step 23

The right column fill color is C=43, M=43, Y=56 and K=9. Again, apply the same technique here.

Step 24

Fill The bottom side of the crossbar with the color C=75, M=67, Y=66 and K=87.

Step 25

We do not have any shapes in areas indicated by the red ellipses. Create two rectangles in these places and place them behind the columns.

Step 26

Fill the left rectangle with a linear gradient: C=43, M=43, Y=56 and K=9 to C=57, M=54, Y=64 and K=32.

Step 27

Fill the right rectangle with a linear gradient: C=75, M=67, Y=66 and K=87 to C=57, M=54, Y=64 and K=24. The impossible 3D object is ready!

Step 28

Now create the illusion of deformation. For inspiration, visit the unsurpassed master of this illusion is Akiyoshi KITAOKA.

Create a new layer and name it "ground." Now we'll start to make a chess board. Create a rectangle 40 by 40 pixels and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform... apply the settings you see below. Then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Step 29

Select a group of ten rectangles and go to Object > Transform > Move ... and press Copy. Apply the settings you see below.

Step 30

Select the two rows of rectangles and go to Object > Transform > Move... and press Copy. Apply the settings you see below.

Step 31

Press Command + D eight times.

Step 32

Create a rectangle 10 by 10 pixels with a white fill and red (for clarity) stroke of 3 pixels. Now go to Object > Expand. Create a black rectangle 40 by 40 pixels, now align the shapes using the Align palette.

Step 33

Delete the red stroke, select the white and black rectangles and hit Subtract from the Pathfinder box.

Step 34

Using this technique, we'll create six shapes as shown below.

Step 35

Now replace the cells of the chessboard with new shapes as shown in the image below. We use Object > Transform > Move, and Object > Transform > Reflect.

Step 36

Create a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) and fill it with a linear gradient: C=0, M=0, Y=5 and K=10 to C=0, M=0, Y=5 and K=0.

Step 37

Place a checkerboard in the field of the document as shown. Then go to Effect > 3D > Rotate, and apply the settings you see below. Then Object > Expand Appearance.

Fill the cell with a linear gradient: from C=0, M=0, Y=0 and K=100 to C=40, M=57, Y=65 and K=73.

No curves on the chessboard, because you created it yourself!

Step 38

Create a rectangle the size of the document 800 by 800 pixels. Select a rectangle and the chessboard and click Crop from the Pathfinder palette.

Step 39

Now we'll create the illusion of a false spiral. First, create a new layer and name it "circles." Create four concentric circles, the diameters of the circles is 100, 200, 300, and 400 pixels. Lock the sublayer, as we'll use it as a template.

Step 40

Let's take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle 10 by 10 pixels without fill, and a stroke of 4 pixels. Place a rectangle on top of the template and rotate.

Select the rectangle. Now go to Object > Transform > Move, apply the settings you see below and hit Copy.

Step 41

Group two rectangles (Command + G). Now go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform, then apply the settings you see below. Select the group of rectangles and apply Object > Expand Appearance. Now ungroup twice (Shift + Command + G).

Step 42

Repeat this process acting with other circles.

Step 43

Changes the color of the stroke as shown below. Now it looks like a spiral!

Conclusion

The final image is below. Have you seen how easy it is to deceive the mind?

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