Magic Eye 3D Images

Magic Eye 3D Images


Back in the ’90s N.E. Thing Enterprises started publishing these garbled looking images which promised to be 3D without special glasses, today we know them as “Magic Eye”, though they were originally called “Stare-E-o”. I first encountered them in GAMES magazine, with a black & white stare-e-o image such as THIS ONE. Unlike the Magic Eye images, the Stare-E-o ones had two dots at the top, the idea was to get it so that there appeared to be three dots, then the image would supposedly appear.

While I had no trouble getting the dots to become three, I could never get the image to appear, I thought it was some kind of prank. Years later though, I finally got one to work. The Spider-Man one above was printed in the Sunday comics. Once I realized that this image had distinct eyes and mouth and that they belonged to The Scorpion it gave me a recognizable image to look for. With that in mind, I was finally able to get the image to work & was quite elated when I saw the 3D image of The Scorpion. Now that I had the hang of it I started seeking out and trying other Magic Eye images, and was able to make all of them work.

The official viewing method is to look “through” the image, as though looking at something a foot or so beyond it. Crossing your eyes can also work, although this supposedly makes the image look reverted (I’ve never managed to get the cross-eyed method to work myself). The instructions also stress not blinking or losing focus. However, rapidly blinking and/or rolling my eyes around quickly is what I have found to work for me. I find that if I try to focus on seeing “through” the image, my eyes just focus on it as a normal image, but if I do something like rapid blinking my eyes lose their conventional focus & seek out -anything- to focus on, usually resulting in seeing the proper 3D image.

Once I finally got the images to work, I realized that I had performed the same stunt unintentionally many years earlier as a child. I had been staring at the ceiling upholstery in a car & the many holes in it (it was perforated, similar to a sports jersey) started forming this 3D “pool”. I couldn’t figure out where the ceiling actually was until I looked away & then back again.

The two images I posted earlier don’t work as well as they should because of their low resolution (click the Spidey pic for a larger version, though it’s still low quality), but This bunny one is a high quality one which should work very well, even on a
computer monitor.

Trivia tidbit: These images were a running gag in the Mallrats movie. There was a guy who kept trying to see a 3D boat throughout the movie, but never succeeded.


Team Retroist Chief Nostalgia Psychic...

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I forgot to mention what triggered this article, the fact that lucky charms cereal recently included a magic eye image on the backs of their boxes. If you look at it, you’ll see 6 marshmallow moons.

  2. This triggered some memories from my teen years (as well as my Mallrats memories). We had an art store at the mall I worked at as a teen and when they got the magic eye stuff it caused a traffic jam in front of their store with people staring at the stuff for what seemed like hours.

  3. The picture that “Willem” tries to see in “Mallrats” wasn’t actually real either – and it’s depicted on the back of the Mallrats promo trading card set.

  4. I had a couple of those “Magic Eye” books back in the day and they were fun. It didn’t take long for my eyes to hurt like crazy so I would quit long before I got to the end of the book. My eyes fatigue even quicker now: Just looking at the Spiderman and bunny pics were enough to hurt my eyes (which didn’t stop me from looking at the B&W one, which hurt my eyes even more). I don’t think I ever finished the books and now I wonder what happened to them (probably gave them to my nephews).

  5. I really felt that guy in Mallrat’s pain… I could NEVER see the images but all my friends could (or they were trolling me). No amount of eyestrain could get those things to show for me.

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