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LEGO Bulging Checkerboard Optical Illusion MOC

A LEGO brick-built rendition of the mind-bending Bulging Checkerboard optical illusion attributed to Akiyoshi Kitaoka.

One of the theories for why our brains process this illusion in the way they do is that the brain misinterprets the space between the smaller dots and their closest corners as LINES. But because they are slightly offset between the two colors, your brain thinks they should be bending or tilted because of the margin between the dot and the edge. “our brains interpret these margins as lines, skewing our perception, changing the apparent angle of intersection of the square borders. Instead of all right angles, some apparently becoming acute, some obtuse.”

The bulge effect is also aided by the distribution of the dots. The density in the specific parts of each quadrant vs the empty spaces at the outer edge creates a shading effect to give the illusion of depth. This is similar to the dot-shading style known as the Ben Day process used in comics and other print media from 1879 to the mid-2th century.

I originally wanted to use larger flat 4×4 tiles for the blank parts of the checkerboard, but could not find the right pieces in the right colors for I settled for 2×4 tiles. I placed these in alternating patterns as well both vertically and horizontally to keep things consistent and ordered across the entire piece. Also, Lego did not have any 2×2 tiles in the red color I wanted, so I was forced to use 1×2 tiles instead. I suspect that the additional, darker lines that are created by these smaller pieces actually adds to the illusion of depth on the bulge, so I think it worked out in the end.

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