Hybrid Image Optical Illusion (Photoshop Tutorial)

Hybrid Images / Visuospatial Resonance. If you Overlay two images on top of one another inside of Photoshop — one with a lower the spatial frequency (Gaussian Blur Filter) and one with a higher spatial frequency (High-Pass Filter) — you can then view the two images independently, each image at a different distance. The high-pass image can be viewed (in detail) up close, and the blurry image can be viewed by one of the following methods:

  • walking a few meters away from your computer screen
  • defocusing your eyes
  • making the picture smaller on the computer screen (doesn’t work as good as the other methods)
  • taking your glasses off (if you have them)


Hybrid image with Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe (Wikipedia public domain) Black and white images work better if the color is too different between each image.
For instance, Monroe is showing her teeth and lips (white and red), but Einstein is showing lips and a mustache (red + gray).
In order to fix any obvious mis-match in color, you can make each image black and white.
In order to fix any alignment mis-matches of facial features, you could theoretically use the Liquify Tool.

Hybrid Image - Ambiguous Face

If you look at this picture from far away (or with your eyes defocused), my lips appear to be smiling.
If you view this picture close-up (as you would normally), I have a dead-pan face.

Also (when viewing normally), if you focus your attention to the eyes, the lips seen with your peripheral vision may appear to be smiling, but as soon as your eyes look /directly/ at the lips, the smile vanishes.
Emotionally ambiguous face! Spooky mysterious.

There are many potential different uses for this technique – including subliminal messages, etc.

There are not many hybrid images on the net at the moment – lets change that!

Submit your images to Flickr and tag them with “Hybrid Image” and maybe “Visuospatial Resonance”, and post them inside the PhotoExtremist Flickr Group, and maybe even on the PhotoExtremist Facebook timeline.


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