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Trompe-L'œil (“trick of the eye”) is an optical illusional technique employed across various disciplines of visual arts to make two-dimensional works appear to be three-dimensional from a specific vantage point by combining the stylistic elements of photorealism and forced perspective photography.


Optical illusions involving 3-dimensional perspectives were used since the ancient Greek and Roman times, typically in mural paintings. During the Renaissance period, many Italian painters employed perspective illusion techniques in ceiling paintings (shown below). The phrase "trompe l'oeil" was coined in the Baroque period when perspective illusion ceiling paintings grew in popularity in Belgium and the Netherlands.[1]



Many tropes used in cartoons have employed trompe-l'oeil, including the Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote who painted a 3-dimensional tunnel on a cliff face in an attempt to catch the Road Runner (shown below, left). In the 1954 musical film Singin' in the Rain, a scene featuring the character Cosmo Brown (played by Donald O-Connor) running up a wall features a trompe-l'oeil mural (shown below, right).

On February 16th, 2002, the art blog[3] was launched, which highlights notable examples of trompe-l'oeil. In August 2005, graffiti artist Banksy painted a series of images on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank wall, which included a trompe-l'oeil painting of two children playing below a hole revealing a tropical beach (shown below).

On September 14th, 2013, Redditor odinsraven232323 posted a photograph of a trompe l'oeil painting at an abandoned castle in Italy to the /r/AbandonedPorn[4] subreddit, where it gained over 1,100 votes (95% upvoted) prior to being archived. On May 11th, 2014, Redditor sunrays6 submitted before-and-after photographs of a wall with a trompe-l'oeil mural to /r/pics[5] (shown below, right). On June 17th, the art blog Creative Bloq[2] published a listicle featuring 22 examples of trompe-l'oeil illusions.


Forced Perspective

The forced perspective photography technique creates an optical illusion by strategically placing a subject or object to appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. While the technique has been employed by various professional photographers and artists for many decades, it became a widespread practice among amateur photographers in the early 2000s with the emergence of inexpensive digital cameras and photo-sharing platforms like Flickr.

Notable Examples

iaran 2012

Search Interest

External References

[1] Wikipedia – Trompe loeil

[2] Creative Bloq – 22 amazing trompe loeil illusions

[3] – Trompe Loeil

[4] Reddit – The bath and trompe

[5] Reddit – Trompe-loeil before and after

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