illusory yellow pic.twitter.com/xIxX6eHMcq
— Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka) November 30, 2023
Optical illusions have a way of showing us how our brain works. Now, an image created by Japanese experimental psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka is another lesson in how we process color. In one of his latest images, captioned “illusory yellow,” we see three overlapping circles in cyan, magenta, and yellow, just like you'd see in representations of the CMYK model. But upon closer inspection, it turns out there's no actual yellow pigmentation in the bottom right circle. The color is is made in our mind.
So why do we see a yellow circle if it's not actually there? The answer lies in subtractive color mixing, or the perception of color produced by the absorption of light by other colors. If you zoom in on the image, you'll realize what you first thought was a yellow circle is actually a series of black lines on a white background. These lines follow the same pattern as those on the rest of the image, but the others are bright blue.
The illusion of yellow is then produced by those black and white stripes in an area surrounded by blue stripes. In addition to that, what passes for the green area—where blue and yellow supposedly meet— is actually made up of cyan and black. Further proving this, Twitter user Mab Newemka showed that the two other color discs are not even necessary for this illusion to happen. Dragging a circle made up of black stripes onto a blue-striped background makes a yellow circle appear almost by magic.
To see more mind-bending optical illusions, follow Kitaoka on Twitter.
This image created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka is a lesson in how we process color. We see three intertwined circles—cyan, magenta, and yellow. But upon closer inspection, turns out there's no yellow in the bottom right circle.
I had to open Photoshop to be sure pic.twitter.com/yB2FoxOceA
— Nicolas Jacob (@Nicolas_Jacob_) November 30, 2023
The answer lies in subtractive color mixing, or the perception of color produced by the absorption of light by other colors.
haha I love it! We don't even need the two other dics pic.twitter.com/kmB3o2eOdO
— mab newemka ✨ (@newemka) November 30, 2023