Skull Optical Illusion

It’s not so scary skull optical illusions!

The skull illusion is an ambiguous drawing.

When viewed from afar the image appears as a human skull. But there is another aspect of these images when viewed closely.

The image of the skull is formed by two people facing each other or the reflection of a person in a vanity mirror.

Skull illusion is memento mori:

An art that has a human skull as a focal point is called memento mori.
In Latin: memento mori means “remember you will die”.
The art symbolically reminds death is inevitable that is humans are mortal.

In the late 19th century to early 20th century the skull illusion was very popular in France. It was used in advertisements in posters and postcards.

Here, is a collection of vintage posters, postcards and magazine cover depicting the skull illusion:

NOTE: View the images from a distance and see a human skull!

Origin Of Skull Illusion

Skull Optical Illusion

One of the versions of the oldest skull illusion. Its origin is believed to be Germany.

Most Famous Skull Illusion

All Is Vanity Skull Optical Illusion
Title: All is vanity
Illustrator: Charles Allan Gilbert (1873-1929)
Year: 1892
Country: USA
  • A pretty girl is sitting in front of her vanity table. In another aspect her reflection on mirror completes another picture that is of a skull.
  • The title “all is vanity” is inspired from the biblical phrase:
    Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
    Ecclesiastes 1:2 KJV
    The book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon. In that book, the writer has written about the vanities of the world which he pondered by getting inspiration from the Holy God.
  • The title of the poster “all is vanity” is ironical as it shows a woman sitting before the vanity table and doing make up, which is also a vanity.
  • All is vanity is the most famous skull illusion.
All Is Vanity Japanese Version
All is vanity (Japanese Version)
Year: 1910

Couple Themed Skull Illusion

L’armour de Pierrot Skull Optical Illusion
Title: L’armour de Pierrot (The love of Pierrot)
Year: 1905
Country: France
Life And Death Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Life and death
Publisher: Currier & Ives
Couple In The Garden Skull Optical Illusion
Couple in the garden
Life And Death Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Tête de mort (Life and death)
Couple Chatting Skull Optical Illusion
Couple chatting
Skull Optical Illusion Life And Death
Title: La vie et la mortLeben und Tod (Life and death)
Couple In Automobile Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Automobile, the course of death

Skull Illusion In Vintage Magazine Cover

Pecha Magazine 1906 Skull Optical Illusion
Magazine: Pchela
Year: 1906
Country: Russia
Judge Magazine 1894 Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Death to our industries
Magazine: Judge
Issue: May 19, 1894
The Shadow Magazine 1935 Skull Optical Illusion
Magazine: The Shadow
Issue: May 15, 1935
Illustrator:  George Rozen
Publisher: Street and Smith

Life Themed Skull Illusion

Skull Optical Illusion Two Friends Saying  Goodbye
Title: Au revoir (Goodbye)
The Ladies Playing Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Une partie de Dames (The ladies playing)
Illustrator: Charles D
Mother And New Born Child Skull Optical Illusion
Mother with her new born child
Shattered Dreams Skull Optical Illusion
Shattered dreams

Social-Evil Themed Skull Illusion

Sudan Conflict 1884 Skull Optical Illusion
Title: Die Macht des Goldes; Die Lösung der Frage Sudans
(The Power of Gold; A solution to the Sudan conflict)
Year: 1884
Country: Germany
The War Skull Optical Illusion
Title: La guerre (The war)
The Skull Optical Illusion
Title: The danger of drinks

Child Themed Skull Optical Illusions

The vintage skull illusion having children as subject had following titles:


Isn’t it scary, how people used innocent kids in skull illusion especially for ads!

Two Kids With A Dog Skull Optical Illusion
Two Kids Sitting Skull Optical Illusion
Two Kids Burning Their Dolls Skull Optical Illusion
Garbage Pail Kids Sticker
Garbage Pail Kids Sticker Album
Slogan: Beauty is only skin deep
Year: 1985
Country: USA

Upside Down Image & Skull Optical Illusion

Upside Down Image & Skull Optical Illusion

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