These days, no matter where you are in the world, you’ve definitely seen some form of graffiti art. But have you seen 3D street art illusions like these? These artworks make us question what we see and how we see it. We have chosen our favorite artworks and illusions that made us think twice.
These artworks are often created in very public spaces like city squares or high-traffic sidewalks. If you’re not watching your step, you may get a big fright thinking that you’re falling into a dark hole or that something is going to grab you! Scroll through and see if you can work out how these artists created these illusions for us.
Taking You To Another Dimension
We hardly expect street art to make us feel like we’re in another dimension, but that’s exactly what’s happening here. Artist Izzy Izvne has honed in her skills to create a style that sparks child-like wonder. Check out the optical illusion below of a galactic vortex, drawing us into its infinite darkness.
Such a striking (and huge) wall mural like this one really contrasts with the residential surroundings. Izzy has explained the idea behind her art: “My style is about the opening of undiscovered things. Who can imagine how deep and colorful reality inside the wall can be? How deep and colorful the cosmos above us can be? We lose so many moments of life around us just because we are too busy every day to stop ourselves and open our eyes and soul.”
The Tunnel-Dwelling Giant
Artist Cosimo Caiffa swapped his graffiti illustrations for optical illusion works of art, and we’re very glad he did. Check out this mind-bending illusion of a man pulling himself out of a tunnel. We’d happily believe it was the real thing if we couldn’t see that he’s made up of giant proportions.
Based in Milan, Italy, Caiffa enjoys creating these tricks on the eye for passersby. “I’m always looking to discover new techniques,” he has admitted online, which is what got him into 3D art in the first place. And we’ve got to say, it looks like he’s mastered this one.
Cooking a Feast? Here’s a Huge Oven
Spotted! Another of Leon Keer’s incredible street artworks. This Megastove was made in Delftsepoort Rotterdam in front of the Nationale Nederlanden building. We don’t even know what is real and what isn’t real in this piece. Try and work out how he did this because we can’t quite work it out!
Leon Keer is known for his Anamorphic painting techniques. He actually used them here for the floor and the tromp l’oeil technique on the wall. We don’t know what these fancy words mean exactly but it is clearly all about distortion and perception! We’re just simply impressed by the artwork.
British artist Joe Hill was the mastermind behind this one. This massive floor mural is actually pretty significant in the street art world, as it’s one of the world’s largest 3d paintings. Located in London’s Canary Wharf district, it takes up a whopping 12,000 square feet of space in the thriving urban hub.
And as we can see, it’s not just the painting that’s in the picture. A few brave athletes have taken to the “edge” of the giant cavernous space to work up a sweat. We love how the blue and brown hues mirror the colors of London streets, yet take you out of the city and into a natural landscape.
But Where’s Boo?
We got real nostalgic when we found this street art. This is just one of the artworks from a series done by Russian artist, Brain Mash. The series features pop culture icons like the cast of Monsters, Inc, and other 90s movies that we loved when we were younger.
By using incredible 3D techniques, it really looks like Mike and Sully are opening the door. It was always our fantasy for this exact moment to happen in our bedrooms. We don’t get how Brain Mash made this look so good, even the characters’ facial expressions are spot on!
A Serpent’s Lair
Meet street and graffiti artist Scaf, the man making all your nightmares come true. In the photo below we can see just how 3D he makes his monsters – the empty space on the left where a window should be is entirely a trick of the eye! This giant serpent really does look like he’s writhing around the building walls.
And from the looks of it, the snake has taken a big chunk of Scaf with him. Just trying to wrap our heads around the skillful shading and depth perception that’s gone into this wall mural is work enough, we can hardly imagine how he managed to capture the tones so perfectly.
Step With Caution!
And another Leon Keer artwork. The guy absolutely nails 3D street art and we can’t get enough of his work. He put together this 3D street art combined with Augmented Reality for the LelystArt festival in the Netherlands. We didn’t even know that was possible to create but Keer is showing us the ropes.
The coolest part of the artwork, which we can’t actually see in the image, is the augmented reality feature. To see the AR image appear users have to download the Junaio App, search for 3D street art, and scan the marker which is the caution sign. Then the viewers could watch a cool reality unfold on their phones. Mind-blowing!
How Fast Can You Solve It?
Rubik’s Cubes are confusing enough for the average person. When we see a giant 3D Rubik’s cube, it’s even more confusing! We think it is fair to say that this is probably the most simple 3D artwork in our collection, but nonetheless, it is effective and still really cool.
This woman looks pretty happy posing on top of the Rubic’s cube that looks like it is floating. It would be pretty cool if this artwork had the augmented reality feature too, then we could probably see someone solve this one just like a normal cube.
A Cycling Hazard!
Whoever thought it was a good idea to put this optical illusion in the middle of a busy cycling path probably wasn’t thinking straight… But we can’t deny the outcome might be well worth the risk. In this floor piece, five men climb up a wall of ice in the middle of a freezing blizzard. It was actually commissioned by HBO to promote Game of Thrones back in 2015, so you probably know which wall we’re walking about.
3D street artists Joe and Max actually accomplished a major feat with this mural: “We were delighted to be approached by HBO to commission this artwork – we knew we had to do something really special to match the sheer scale of this phenomenal TV show that has swept the globe. That’s why The Wall in 3D works from more than one angle – making it a first in the 3D art world.”
Turning a Street Into a Movie Set
One artist came up with a pretty unique way to spruce up this residential street. Pavement artist Edgar Mueller created this surreal work of art that looks like something out of Game of Thrones. A lake flows through the center of the street, but it’s threatened with firey walls of lava.
We wonder how the neighbors reacted to the optical illusion. It’s incredibly impressive to see such realistic-looking depth perception and such bright vivid colors. The combination, we’re sure, would make you feel like you’re the star of your very own action movie.
Jungle Life in the City
This masterpiece is another of Nikolaj’s artworks. Almost all of his work, including this one, is drawn only with chalk. It is a good thing that this one is covered by a tent structure because the chalk would be washed away with rain. And we definitely don’t want this piece fading away just yet.
In this photo, the man himself Nicolaj is posing with his panda friends. We almost couldn’t tell if he was real or not. With these 3D shots, it’s often really hard to tell what is real and what is not. It is especially hard when the artist is this good! We’re loving Nikolaj Arndt’s work.
Floating Pedestrian Crossing
This little kid couldn’t be happier posing on what looks like a floating pedestrian crossing. The artwork is a part of the ‘simple but effective’ collection of 3D artworks. The little touch definitely makes this crossing a lot more fun than the average pedestrian crossing.
We hope you know exactly what we’re talking about when we say that the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover would have looked seriously cool on this crossing. But regardless, the locals are having a lot of fun with this one. Most of all, we hope that it’s a red light for cars when photos are taken!
It’s the Screaming Ghost
The Screaming Ghost really does look like a screaming face that has actually created a cracked hole in the concrete. It is perfectly positioned in the center of an abandoned building. The other graffiti, rubbish, and natural environment add to the overall aesthetic achieved. Super cool.
The work that TSF does aims to “Offer another reality, give new life or reinvent it, discover points of view, invest, allow dimensions, and tell in-depth. Paint the colors of time, spraying the infinities of space.” And we think that this piece and their other works definitely offer another reality.
Snow White Lending a Hand
Starting off with one of our faves, “Snow White Storage Room” was created by the Dutch street artist Leon Keer. He actually did this piece on a garage door during a 3D street painting festival in Bulgaria. We didn’t even know festivals like that existed… The festival itself is organized by the Midalidare Wine Estate in Mogilovo.
How cool is this artwork! It blows us away. The little Snow White looks like she is sitting inside a storage room. The work itself is a metaphor for the loss of your inner child. According to Kerr, it is supposed to restore the lost value in life that naturally occurs as we grow into adults.
Portuguese-born street artist Odeith poses a particular skill when armed with spray paint. In the photo below we can see him confronting his fears with a giant corner-dwelling spider! Not only does the creature look incredibly realistic, but its shadows on the wall correlate with the only light source – the flamethrower.
Odeith has been recognized internationally for his amazing technique, which often uses 90º corners and a variety of surface textures, like in the image above. He even coined the term “somber 3D” for his unusual style that combines realistic shading, color, and texture alongside mind-blowing technique.
Collaboration at Its Finest
Some optical illusion street art is a collaborative effort, as seen at the Louvre in Paris circa 2019. French street artist known as JR enlisted a whopping 400 volunteers to help him transform the famous courtyard. The result is spectacular and awe-inspiring, which makes use of the famous Pyramid entrance as the sole focus of the street art.
Titled “The Secret of the Great Pyramid,” it imagines what may lie beneath the four-sided glass pyramid. And would you believe it’s composed of 1000s of strips of paper? JR explained: “The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. This project is about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”
Tiger Is on the Loose
This tiger drawing is one street artwork that would definitely stop us in our tracks! Imagine just walking down the street and seeing a tiger – just the thought of it is enough to scare us. Russian born artist, Nikolaj Arndt, is the man behind the tiger left loose on the street.
The entire thing was completed only using chalk. Which makes the coloring and shading super impressive, and it looks pretty real to us. Quick, get your iPhone out, a perfect opportunity to get a photograph with a tiger! And realistically the only time you’ll ever be able to capture sitting on top of one.
Just a Lego Terracotta Army
So what we have here is the 3D artwork in the making. Here you can see Leon Keer and an assistant drawing out the characters of the Lego Terracotta Army. The work was actually created for the fourth Sarasota Chalk festival in Florida. A chalk festival… Whaaat?
Yes, they are Lego people. Yes, it is mimicking the Terracotta Warriors. Yes, it is epic. Keer was inspired by the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, but instead, he decided to use Lego men as models. But what is also crazy is that the artwork covered about 100 square meters! We would never have guessed it covered this much space.
Leon Keer actually teamed up with another street artist for this one, Massina Marije Spelbos. The two actually work together on a lot of different projects and we like what they do! This underground classroom is fit with science equipment and a chalkboard. They’ve thought of it all.
We want to know how long it took to put this together. There is so much detail in the drawing, it’s mind-blowing. They put this epic painting together in Delft in the Netherlands. The drawing was done as a part of the 175th-anniversary celebrations of TU Delft, the Delft University of Technology.
The Sky’s the Limit
We have to give this street artist credit for creating such a huge optical illusion piece in the middle of a busy high street. But we’re glad they did because the result is jaw-dropping. In this work, a rock climber just about reaches the end of his journey with a backdrop of planet earth behind him.
And as we can see he’s not alone, as a young passerby offers to lend him a helping hand up. It’s a splendid optical illusion that looks good enough to fall into. But it does make us wonder; what is lying underneath all the streets and pavements?
Did Someone Say Food Fight?
The title “Angry Food” definitely seems fitting here. We would title it either “Angry Food” or “Food Fight.” The apple literally looks like it is ready to attack. Alex Maksiov, the artist behind this quirky drawing, created it for the annual Sarasota Chalk Festival. The theme of this year was titled “Eat, Drink and Be Merry!”
There is something about the style of the drawing that reminds us of Beauty and the Beast, like the table or chandelier coming to life. We would definitely get a fright walking past and seeing the champagne cork coming straight at us. Might automatically duck down when walking past.
This Is the End
This 3D illusion makes us think of the Seth Rogen movie This Is the End when everyone goes flying into the sinkhole. It has a super apocalyptic feel to it! We can’t even imagine just walking past and seeing the ground falling in. We would definitely jump and think twice about what is happening.
We don’t know who pulled this trippy illusion together for us but it definitely makes our list of favorites. Firstly, it is enormous and covers a lot of what looks like a town square. Secondly, it is creepily realistic but also a bit apocalyptic so it gives you a little fright… makes it fun!
Just a Hidden World
We have no idea about the true history of half of the places that we walk. What lay before? What remnants of history still remain that we don’t even notice? We’re not saying that if you peel back some paint, there’s an Egyptian world waiting for you, but you get the idea of what we’re saying…
The lighting and the girl that is peering in make this one look extra real. The artist has perfectly captured the light and shadows that are cast into the space. Even the cracked concrete wall has been perfectly drawn making the entire drawing super realistic and believable. We want to see this IRL.
Another Hidden World… Underground
We’re seeing a bit of a theme with the one before… another hidden Egyptian world. This time, it is lying below the ground. If anything, it makes us think of that Nicolas Cage movie where he is running around looking for treasure. We could definitely go exploring in this hidden world!
This was another of Leon Keer’s works for the 2014 weekend of ‘Die Langen Nächte’ at Legoland Günzburg in Germany. Just like all of Keer’s work we’ve included in the collection, this is another well thought out, perfectly scaled, and colored 3D illusion that definitely stops people walking past.
Just Popping in to Say Hello
We think that this 3D artwork is probably every kid’s fantasy. At one point or another, maybe during storytime, we have all imagined alternative worlds like this one. And this giraffe looks like the friendly visitor that we always imagined popping through our window to say hello.
This 3D painting was done on the wall of a house in Luoyuan village, in China’s Zhejiang province. The artists were asked to do various 3D paintings around the village to draw in some more tourists. Clearly, it is a hit for the locals, and hopefully brings in some foreigners too! They hope it will bring some more income to the villagers.
Ice Age Brought to Life
Every year in the Irish town of Dun Laoghaire is the “Festival of World Culture.” In August of 2008, Edgar Müller was specifically asked to create a large-sized 3D street artwork. He had previously created work at the festival and had become a bit of a hit.
So at the 2008 festival, Edgar Müller transformed a huge slice of the East Pier into a dramatic ice age scene. This actually seems more relevant than ever, and if it was drawn now, it would definitely feel like a commentary on climate change and the Arctic melting. But for now, we will appreciate it more as a reference to our childhood movie, Ice Age. Where’s Sid?
Not Just an Average Spider
This spider is the stuff of nightmares for us. This scarily oversized arachnid looks like it is emerging from a gaping hole in the wall. French artist Denys Pasco, better known as Densoner, has absolutely nailed this optical illusion mural. We’re scared just looking at this photo!
The artist who is known for his highly detailed graffiti style is also known for oversized murals of wild creatures. He clearly enjoys the scare factor in his realistic paintings. But why did he need to draw the spider’s legs stretching out toward the front so it looks like it’s walking towards us? It’s too much!
Read My Lips
This 3D wonder really has questioning how the artist pulled it off. Created in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one artist chose to make a powerful statement by blowing up the size of a human mouth. We can see that a giant pill is about the get swallowed up whole by the ground. But what symbol can we see?
On the side of the pill, we can spot a recycling symbol, but it only creates more questions than it answers. Is this sidewalk art making a statement about greenwashing? Are they commenting on the state of the world or human consumption? Either way, we love that they found a creative and unique way to make people stop and think.
Pac Man Nostalgia
Our fave man Leon Keer did this adorable and nostalgic 3D street painting in Venlo, in The Netherlands. The work was done on a seriously busy street, so the artwork caught a lot of attention just through foot traffic. It was obviously inspired by the 80s Arcade video game Pac-Man.
We all love a good throwback and this one definitely has the nostalgia element that we appreciate. The work isn’t overly detailed but still, it nails the concept and has us wanting to jump in and get a photo like this woman having fun. Keer should do a whole series of old video-game-themed works!
Starting to Spiral
This isn’t just a cool optical mural, it was actually commissioned specifically to draw focus to World Sight Day. Sandy Pell and Steve Pell are the artists behind the incredible optical illusion that sits in the Woodward’s Atrium in Vancouver, Canada. The eyewear retailer, Clearly, is actually the one behind the cool idea.
Clearly and the muralists wanted to communicate the importance of eye health. This mural’s optical illusion is based on a shift in the viewer’s perception and that it is exactly the same when it comes to eyesight. What we are able to see directly affects how we engage with the world.
Just picture yourself innocently strolling down the streets of France when you turn and suddenly find this terrifying picture. This wall mural was artfully created by street and graffiti artist Scaf, who has been mentioned before in this article. He definitely has an imaginative mind.
We’re not sure where his fascination with scary subjects comes from, but it’s definitely a frequent feature of his work. In this mural, the way the skull and fingertips appear to imprint on the wall gives the illusion of it being a curtain, not a solid foundation. Definitely nightmare-worthy.
Art With an Agenda
Street artist MTO is Italian-based and chooses to highlight important issues through his optical illusion street art. In the photo below, they actually completed this long wall mural at the Sliema seafront for the Malta Street Art Festival. He titled it, “The Mediterranean Door.”
However, this work isn’t just there to be a pretty distraction. MTO chose to highlight immigration issues that are close to his heart through this eye-catching display. It’s truly amazing to see how proportional he made the man in the artwork, despite it being 50x the size of a real person.
A Bit of Artist Activism
Yes, this is yet another Leon Keer. His work ‘Empty Hole’ was made at Upfest: Europe’s largest Street Art & Graffiti festival in Bristol, UK. The 3D street painting is around 40-square-meters and features a little girl playing in what looks like a cemetery. Well, that’s pretty creepy.
The more controversial part of the artwork is that Keer painted it in the parking lot of a Tobacco Factory. Keer clearly communicates his thoughts on tobacco companies and the effect on society in general, but specifically for kids. The artwork is both eerie and beautiful.
Careful Not to Fall In
This has a similar sinkhole vibe to one of the artworks that we mentioned earlier. And this angle shows it perfectly sinking in. It really is terrifying to see it from afar. Especially if you didn’t know what it actually was and you saw someone walking close to the edge.
The artist perfectly detailed the edges to make it look very real. The edges of the ground literally look like they have crumbled inwards towards the hole. And the black shading makes it look like the hole is extremely deep, adding to the eeriness and effectiveness of the optical illusion.
See You Later Alligator
Every year there is also a 3D street painting festival in the city of Almere in the Netherlands. In 2015, the theme of the festival was “mobility and safety.” So, artist Alex Maksiov decided to draw a popular scene in Holland, a bicycle, and to play with the idea of safety and protection, he put an alligator in the cute bike basket.
Alex Maksiov is a street artist from Ukraine and he is based in Kiev. He actually graduated from the prestigious Odessa Art College in Ukraine. We’re loving his take on “mobility and safety.” It’s cute and quirky. And the best bit, just like the other illusion artworks, it photographs well.
Money, Money, Money
We have to bring another masterpiece by Leon Keer, the main man of 3D street art illusions. We can’t work out all of the symbolism in this one but nonetheless, we like the imagery… The Gummy Bears are literally in a 100 euro bill paper boat floating down a stream of water.
Keer drew the painting in Square Léopold II in Namur, Belgium. Can you believe that it only took him four days to put the whole thing together? The piece actually covered around 70-square-meters. People passing by are clearly stopping to check out the amazing work, and we wish we could too.
Reach Out and Touch
If any work of street art was going to bring tears to your eyes, it might be this one. Named “Graffiti Is Only Sharing,” the artist Jeaze created this optical illusion to highlight the collaborative nature of graffiti art. It’s interesting to see graffiti and optical illusion art come together this way.
Both hands in the image are so skillful rendered that we would have never guessed it was two dimensional. The artist had to consider the depth perception of three different walls and angles. On top of that, they had to color the mural just right so that it looks as shaded and the surrounding space.
Landscape Art on Another Level
Imagine stumbling upon this vista when you’re walking your dog. Artist Tracy Lee Stum is one of the biggest names in the street art world and it’s easy to see why. She’s managed to create a vast and sprawling urban landscape that reaches far beyond the city center.
Tracy is so highly regarded for her fabulous optical illusions, that she’s been flown out to streets all around the world to create some astonishing murals. China, Russia, or Tajikistan – she’s been everywhere. Including universities and colleges, where she passes on her knowledge about 3D techniques to the next generation.
Portuguese artist Sérgio Odeith loves to focus on realism in his three-dimensional street art. But he doesn’t stop there – the more walls and angles the better, as it gives him a challenge unlike any other. In this instance, he gave himself the task of creating a giant poisonous frog on three very different surfaces.
The wall that shows the frog’s body is actually curved, making this anamorphic street art a step above the rest. You’ll be happy to hear that he’s celebrated for his optical illusions, and has almost 800,000 followers on Instagram. He totally deserves it.