Believe it or not, this picture is black and white

Believe it or not, this picture is black and white, but a clever optical illusion trick means you see it in COLOUR

  • This optical illusion shared by a London-based digital artist blew people’s minds
  • At first, the snap looks like any other coloured picture you might see online 
  • But a second look reveals that it is a greyscale picture with a colour grid on top 

This picture looks like any other colour photo when you first look at it but it’s actually an optical illusion, because it’s in black and white. 

London-based digital artist Stuart Humphryes has gone viral after sharing the picture with his followers on Twitter, which demonstrates a ‘colour assimilation grid illusion’.

A grid of colour lines was overlaid on a black and white picture with Stuart explaining that our brains are trained to ‘fill in the gap’ of our colour perception  

The brain relays the information it gets from the lines of colours and applies it to the rest of the picture. 

People were mind-blown and many said they wouldn’t have noticed it was actually a greyscale picture if they hadn’t taken a second look. 

London digital artist Stuart Humphryes shared this fascinating optical illusion on Twitter, explaining that it looked like a colour picture at first glance, but is actually a greyscale picture with colour lines overlaid on top of it  

People were blown away by the illusion and said they had to do a double take in order to see the picture was in fact black and white 

The picture shows a group of teenagers in China posing for a picture. 

It appears that some of them are wearing blue t-shirts, while two are wearing green, one yellow, and another pair, red t-shirts. 

The leaves of the tree in the background also appear to be green. 

But in fact, a closer inspection finds the picture is greyscale, with thin lines of colours overlaid on the picture. 

So what a person sees is not a teenager wearing a green t-shirt. It is a greyscale picture of a teenager, with green lines above their t-shirt.  

Humphryes shared the picture on Twitter and explained how little information the brain needed to ‘fill in the gaps’ 

‘This is fascinating and shows how weak colour information can be on a photo for the brain to fill in the gaps and “colourise” it for you,’ Humphryes explained when sharing the picture. 

‘It’s a black and white photo, but overlaid with a thin grid of coloured lines. They’re enough to trick your mind into seeing a full colour image,’ he added. 

People where blown-away by the picture. 

When one person said they thought the picture had been colourised, Humphryes replied their brain was what was doing the colourising, not him.  

‘It works for me completely. I am blown away. Nice test to start my day,’ one said. 

People loved the optical illusion. Some joked they should just draw lines on their black and white TV instead of buying a colour one 

‘Crazy! I can’t believe it, it looks like a regular color picture,’ another one wrote. 

‘That’s extraordinary,’ one said. 

‘Neednt have bothered buying a colour tv , could have just drawn some red lines on the b/w one,’ one joked. 

Vision scientist Bart Anderson from the University of Sydney, explained the science behind the trick to Science Alert when a similar picture went viral in 2019. 

‘The colour system is what vision scientists refer to as ‘low pass’, i.e., many of the receptive fields that code colour are quite large,’ he said. 

‘So the grids get ‘averaged’ with the achromatic background, which then gets attributed to that part of the image,’ he added. 

By working this way, the brain gives us an overall impression of what we’re looking at when we just give an image a quick glance.   

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