Data Collection Results

None of the website owners replied to my emails, so I collected the images myself. All of the content on these sites has been collected from other sources, so I don’t think there is any issue with copyright. I have collected all of the image URLs and some metadata for every illusion images on both websites, and some percent of non-illusion images.

Mighty Optical Illusions

To obtain images, I started at this page I used python’s Beuatiful Soup library to copy all image links and then follow the previous button to the next page, and repeated until I was out of next pages. This leads to a grand total of 6436 images. It’s hard to know how many are duds, but that is a good start.


Here I changed the page number in the url, and all of the relevant areas on the site. I was able to get 1454 images. The descriptions might end up being useful weeding out some of the illusions that require video.


On closer inspection, there are only a hundred or so good illusions here. I do not plan to download them.

I think between these two sites I have about as many illusion images as I’ll get. I am waiting to hear back from to see if they would share their images for the good of science, but I have not heard back from them. The JSON files and scraping code will be available here: The next step is to combine the JSON files and actually download all of the images and find a place to host them.

Next Steps

I was able to obtain 7890 images from my top two websites, and maybe a few more thousand if IllusionsOfTheYear wants to help. I plan to learn to use a Variational Autoencoder and apply it to this data. It should be able to come up with a good latent space for these images, and then I can cluster them and see what sorts of clusters appear. At this point I can try training a GAN on specific classes, perhaps certain illusions are easy for a GAN to reproduce than others. I expect that texture based geometric illusions will be obtainable, but anything with large scale structure will not be possible without a major revolution in AI or a few orders of magnitude more images.w

Written on February 4, 2018