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Remembering Magic Eye

I have fond memories of magic eye books. My mom’s friends Jeanine and Michael (I think, he went by Parsival for awhile) used to have the books at their house. We’d go over their for solstices and equinoxes and I’d always look through the books. I was always the only one who could see the images, even though I managed to teach some of the adults how to look at them right (if you know someone who has trouble, frame one and have them focus on a reflection in the glass, it’s the soft-focus necessary to reveal the image).

Since then, I’ve been fascinated with the technique. The patterns are all similar, but not the same. I’ve got stacks of books (somewhere) that are magic eye ’stories’ &emdash; fantasy books with parts of the plot hidden in the magic eye puzzles. As the magic eye phenomenon grew, the patterns became more and more beautiful. Then it went away.

Today, over at Flash Insider, they featured flash-gear’s new custom magic eye creator. Color me excited.

I played with this for awhile, creating a few different illustrations. (Does the lack of precision in these flash drawing applications make anyone else feel like a little kid with markers again? In a good way I mean…) It worked! It was like the good old days, as that familiar ache of soft focus starts in the tops of my eyes, and then the picture is revealed. Being a designer, with a much bigger arsenal of visual articulation now then when I was 10, I decided to figure out the ‘how’ of these images. The result? I’m stumped…

I love figuring out how stuff works. Seeing some of the cool stuff on the web was one of the main reasons I became a developer, to be able to see things and instantly figure out how to do them, or how they were likely done. When I find something that is still so exotic, it excites me, reminds me of why I chose the profession I did.

So, how do these work? I tried to figure out differences in the edges of the 3D image by focusing on one line and then closing an eye (which stops the effect). Nothing. The fact that both eyes are involved is probably a hint, but I don’t know how that applies ultimately.

Maybe I don’t want to figure it out. It’d be a satisfaction to know the ‘how’ of magic eye, but then it just wouldn’t be so magic anymore. Maybe some things need to stay mysterious. After all, a feeling that was strong enough to influence a career must be worth preserving right?

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Justin Dickinson

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One Response to “Remembering Magic Eye”

  1. cooleelo Says:

    It’s usually best to see them behind a glass frame. When you stand about a foot away, and focus on your reflection.

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