City Research Online

Paradoxical perception of surfaces in the Shepard tabletop illusion

Tyler, C. W. (2011). Paradoxical perception of surfaces in the Shepard tabletop illusion. I-PERCEPTION, 2(2), pp. 137-141. doi: 10.1068/i0422

This is the latest version of this item.


The Shepard tabletop illusion, consisting of different perspective embeddings of two identical parallelograms as tabletops, affords a profound difference in their perceived surface shapes. My analysis reveals three further paradoxical aspects of this illusion, in addition to its susceptibility to the ‘inverse perspective illusion’ of the implied orthographic perspective of the table images. These novel aspects of the illusion are: a paradoxical slant of the tabletops, a paradoxical lack of perceived depth, and a paradoxical distortion of the length of the rear legs. The construction of the illusion resembles scenes found in ancient Chinese scroll paintings, and an analysis of the source of the third effect shows that the interpretation in terms of surfaces can account for the difference in treatment of the filled-in versus open forms in the Chinese painting from more than 1000 years ago.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.

Download (2MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Available Versions of this Item

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login