How to See StereogramsI think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry. - Rita Rudner
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How to See Stereograms

Learn how to see Stereograms or 3D illusions.

See our gallery of stereograms.

There are several techniques that help in seeing stereograms, or SIRDS (single image random dot stereo) as they are sometimes called.

The techniques listed here are helpful for converged viewing, where you look through and past the image as opposed to cross-eyed images. Converged images are much more popular in general, however, the cross-eyed technique has one major benefit. They can be used with very large images, the size of billboard, or larger. The cross-eyed technique can also be easier to see, since you can simply look at a pencil tip between you and the image to create the correct focus.

Be relaxed and give it some time.
Learn how to see Stereograms or 3D illusions.

First, a few hints to make viewing stereograms easier:

  • In general, you want bright lighting when you are learning to view 3D illusions.
  • Some people who wear glasses will find it easier to if they take them off as long as they can move close enough to the image to see it clearly.
  • Look straight on, don't twist your head. The 3D illusion is most apparent with your head level.
  • Be relaxed and give it some time.


The main trick to seeing stereograms is learning to de-couple your focus and eye positioning. You will need to position your eyes as though you were looking at an object about twice as far away, while focusing on the image. Instinctively you focus on the object you are looking at... with our free 3D illusions, you will have to LOOK at an imaginary object twice as far away while FOCUSING on the image.

Sound tricky? Well, it is a little tricky until you get the hang of it. With practice, it will become easy, and we've got a few ideas that you can try.

Look at the Reflection

As we said above, you'll need to LOOK at something about twice the distance of the image. It turns out we have something that is almost always available that is the exact distance... your reflection. By looking at your reflection on your computer monitor, or if you are looking at a book of stereograms, SIRDS, or 3D optical illusions, you will notice they often come with glossy coatings that are shiny enough to let you see your reflection.

After looking at your eye, simply stop focusing on your eye, and try to see the image. Repeat, switching your focus from your eye to the image, and your reflection... and suddenly you will get it.

The Pullback

Get very close to the stereogram, and very, very slowly pull it away (or move away from it). At first you won't even be able to focus on the image... However, keep moving the image in and out, relaxing, and it will appear.

The Transparency

If possible, copy some of the simple SIRDS images onto a transparency. Next, hold it out in front of you halfway between your eyes and a wall. Now change your focus from the image to the wall and back again repeatedly. If you do not see the effect immediately, you can move the image in and out while continuing to change your focus back and forth.

Good Luck, and Enjoy!

See our gallery of stereograms.

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