Wallpaper designs, magic?

When I was growing up in the late eighties, early nineties; Magic Eye books were the rage. If you crossed your eyes or smashed your face against the page and drew back slowly, a 3-D image would appear, floating in space. It was great. There was always that one friend that couldn’t ever get it, which made it even more fun.

When we were in class Tuesday, discussing wallpaper patterns, I kept thinking about Magic Eye. I had to investigate if there was any relationship between what we were learning and the secret behind creating these crazy images.

The images in the book are autostereograms. There are different types but the one that is most like what we have been talking about is the wallpaper autostereogram.

Here are a few examples:

When you stare at the image with crossed eyes or from a wall angle, 3D images are revealed. It takes some time and practice but it’s pretty mind blowing when it happens the first time. As demonstrated by my dear friend, Markice:

It was great.

So basically, and without going into the physiology of the eye and brain, the repeating images create a pattern that establishes different visual planes. When viewed from wall-end view, the brain distinguishes between these different planes and certain parts of the image stick out or push in, giving a 2D image, a 3D perspective. Try it! You can see that a few of the images I posted show several of the characteristics we have discussed including reflection, translation, and rotation.

M.C. Escher and Math

I think that on some level I always understood that math was in the background, behind especially technical pieces of art. M.C. Escher has always been a favorite of mine and when I was little I would try to make sketches that matched his but could never figure out how he got the proportions right (never mind that my skill never graduated beyond 3rd grade blob bodies). Dr. Plante instantly captured my attention when he put Escher’s artwork on the screen. Math has always irritated me and chafes my ego, but I when he starting connecting Escher to math, I began to see it as a language to communicate placement and detail. A mathematical map that makes distortion possible (with clever shading) and tricks the eye. Escher’s work became more logical to me and I love me some logic. Some might think that looking at his work mathematically diminishes the magic, but I think it enhances it.

Rippled Surface


Hi, I am Abby Goen. I am senior in the biological sciences major. I took precalc with Dr. Plante and heard all about this awesome class that looks at math in fun ways. I had to see it for myself. So far, so good! I look forward to getting to know you all!