Excel Optical Illusions

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Designing visualizations for Excel data keeps a lot of us busy. But the human eye is easily fooled.

I thought it would be interesting to recreate some famous optical illusions in Excel. So far I've done about a dozen and thought it would be fun to release them on my blog, one each Friday. So here's the first one:

I actually came up with the idea for my Excel 2007 Chess Viewer, while I was crafting this optical illusion. The checkerboard is absolutely square. The bulge is a genuine illusion and is entirely contained inside of an Excel chart. The attached workbook allows the user to remove the small checks and then the illusion vanishes. No VBA.


Here's the Excel 2007 workbook.

Here's a workbook for earlier versions of Excel.

--- UPDATE ---

One of my readers, Gerald Higgins, sent me a version of the bulge that he crafted after seeing mine. He used conditional formatting as an alternative method to the chart to produce the image. Considering the limitations of 3 conditional formats in earlier versions of Excel, his effort is remarkable. I particularly like his strategy for getting the ticks to line up properly. Excellent job, Gerald!

Have a look at his: .xls

Here is a list of other Excel Optical Illusions here at Excel Hero:

The Haze Illusion
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Nice image (I can't open the file because I don't have 2007).
Just for fun, it would also be POSSIBLE to do this without a chart, in the worksheet itself.

Can't wait to see the rest of these images. Doing any Escher ?


Yes it would be possible, and some of the illusions I've already completed do just that.

Escher would be very interesting. I'll have to think about that.

Come back next Friday for a new one, but in the meantime I just added a copy of the "Bulge" that will work in earlier versions of Excel.

Thanks for visiting and I hope to hear from you again.


Daniel Ferry

Thanks for the workbook with your version, Gerald!

I've just posted it to the main article.


Daniel Ferry

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Ferry published on February 19, 2010 7:23 PM.

Excel 2007 Chess Game Viewer was the previous entry in this blog.

Chess Viewer Update is the next entry in this blog.

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