Optical illusions are always a blast, but when they’re tattooed on a body, they can transform it. These illusionary designs often feature a 3-D element that appears to either twist the skin, bore a hole in the skin, or raise off of the skin. They’re wild. If you’re after a one of a kind tattoo, look no further than these tricky tattoos and their clever designs.
We decided to hypnotize ourselves by taking a deep dive into the world of optical illusion tattoos to discover the possibilities and limitations for them. We can decidedly report the limitations were non-existent and thanks to artists’ creativity, the sky’s the limit. From body morphing swirls to double-vision objects, we’ve found all sorts of unique designs that will give you an idea of what’s attainable and, hopefully, inspire you to come up with your own ultra-fun design. Here are 25 optical illusion tattoos that will melt your brain and, most likely, make you question your sense of reality.
What is happening!? Twists like these are very popular and effective optical illusions and you’ll see a few variations on this list. Can you handle this twist?
Make It Stop
A somewhat new trend these days is the 3-D tattoo that features two different color inks and identical objects. Here, we’re treated to a rose that looks rather far-out.
We’ve now seen the devil. This hidden skull satan-creature is terrifying. The tattoo itself is so neat and tidy and shows some remarkable skill.
Your Eyes Are Not Crossed
Red, green, and blue are the primary colors used in varying degrees on TV screens to make the picture come to life. The concept is on display here for this Star Wars Rebel Alliance symbol. What a stunner!
Here, we find a skull that’s shaped by soft, gorgeous florals. Skulls are pretty ubiquitous for tattoos, but this one feels very fresh and looks amazing.
Enter the Void
As we mentioned, swirls are the optical illusion du jour and this one with cubes falling into its center is a fine example. This was a bold choice for the top of the hand and we think it paid off.
As far as butterfly tattoos go, we don’t see too many like this. This trippy design in black and grey is complete with a cute flower and black drops.
That very first twist we showed you is taken to a whole new level in this design and appears to come from under ripped (sorry) skin. This is both very cool and very gross.
It’s not you, this really does make your eyes go berserk for a moment. This is very fun, but we feel that if the two skulls were closer together this might be a touch more effective.
See? Like this! We don’t understand the science behind this, so it might as well be magic, but these two clasped hands is a total trip. How does this person look at this everyday?
Is it two faces or a vase? You get to decide. This brings back childhood memories of seeing this for the first time and thinking it was some sort of mysterious, evil sign.
This reminds us of the poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Additionally, this shape works very well because it complements the natural roundness of the shoulder.
Fall In to the Portal
Nope. We’d never want to look down and feel like we’re falling through the floor or that our foot has sunken into a black hole. Where do you think this portal leads?
This magnificent geometric design just might break your brain. Once we realized the nipples were also tattooed over it made more sense. What a thrill.
These portals and hole illusion are almost too much to handle. It’s clear that these designs are some of the most favored in this genre.
Checkers That Hypnotize
Here, we get the familiar twist shape but instead of swirls, the illusion is created by checkers. We’re not entirely sure how the tattoo artist didn’t lose their mind while making this. What a wild ride!
Nothing Is Real
Reality is canceled. Who? Why? This candle-stump-hand design is one of the weirder ones on the list and we might need to take a breather. Placed in front of a black background, this tattoo is completely mind-shattering.
In Your Head
This very neat tattoo makes us deeply uncomfortable. There’s a Twin Peaks quality to it that we can’t quite put our finger on. Yes, the geometric pattern steals the show, but check out how amazing the hair looks.
The King of trippy, mathematical art, MC Escher, inspired this completely bizarre design. This actually turned us into a floating ribbon in space.
Here’s a different way to get that 3-D look. This creepy skull looks like it’s in motion thanks to this careful design.
Don’t Break Your Brain
Here’s another skull wrapped in swirls. The eyesockets and other features really do look like they’re sunken into the skin. What a little creeper.
What a Ball
Here’s a neat trick that imagines a ball underneath those thick, black lines. This is both bold and delicate, somehow and we really like this tattoo.
We’d like to speak to the manager because this is simply too much. This giant back piece is a mountain scene made extremely weird by floating hexagon shapes.
Please stop putting holes in things! In this deeply unsettling image, we’re treated to another portal this time made with a checkered pattern. We wonder how much loose change gets lost in there.
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Okay, we’re done. Finished. This is officially over. Who? Why? How? This is entirely too much illusion to handle!
There you go! If you’re like us, you’ve lost all sense of how space works and you are experiencing an existential crisis. It’ll be fine. We suggest taking a walk, but be sure not to look down.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 The Twist
- 2 Make It Stop
- 3 Nope
- 4 Your Eyes Are Not Crossed
- 5 Oh, Hello
- 6 Enter the Void
- 7 Swirls
- 8 Nah
- 9 Seeing Double
- 10 Double Trouble
- 11 Classic
- 12 Vertigo
- 13 Fall In to the Portal
- 14 Ummm
- 15 Stop
- 16 Checkers That Hypnotize
- 17 Nothing Is Real
- 18 In Your Head
- 19 Escher?
- 20 Okay
- 21 Don’t Break Your Brain
- 22 What a Ball
- 23 Yikes
- 24 You Guys…
- 25 Oh, Boy
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