Munker Illusion

from Michael’s Visual Phenomena & Optical Illusions


What to see

Above you see a horizontal colored grid, where few seconds the gridline colors are moved. Furthermore, there are two vertical stripes which look greenish and blue with the default settings.

It seems hard to believe: There are only 3 different colors! The greenish and blue are actually made up by identical green segments, only the intervening grid lines are different.

What to do

Convince yourself that really only the background gridlines change:
With the slider to the left of it move the grid up and down; or, using the ‘width’ number stepper make the grid much wider.

Use the pop-up menu with preset color schemes or set your own color combinations with the 3 color pickers.


This illusion shows how much the perception of color is influenced by the neighborhood. The keyword here is assimilation.

Closely related is the Munker-White illusion which shows strong luminance shifts.


Munker H (1970) Farbige Gitter, Abbildung auf der Netzhaut und übertragungstheoretische Beschreibung der Farbwahrnehmung [Chromatic grids, projection to the retina, and translation theory-based description of the color perception]. München: Habilitationsschrift [some pages from that work on Kitaoka’s beautiful site]

White M (2010) The Early History of White’s Illusion. Colour: Design & Creativity 5:7,1–7

Monnier & Shevell SK (2003) Large shifts in color appearance from patterned chromatic backgrounds. Nature Neuroscience 6:801–802

Akiyoshi Kitaoka has nice spiral versions of this.