LOOK: Using only makeup, Russian artists turn models’ faces into incredible optical illusions

Moscow-based photographer Alexander Khokhlov and makeup artist Valeriya Kutsan have teamed up to create an amazing series of portraits, using the natural lines of models’ faces to create illusionary forms.

The series is cleverly called “2D or Not 2D” and is designed to make the faces look like 2D images when viewed in real life.

“Valeriya used different techniques of face painting so you can see a lot of variations – from sketch and graphic arts to water-color and oil-paintings,” Khokhlov said. “This is a combination of interesting make-ups, studio photography experiments and careful retouching.”

See the images below (h/t Bored Panda):

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  2. Pingback: LOOK: Using only makeup, Russian artists turn models’ faces into incredible optical illusions | ... but I digress

  3. i4000

    November 27, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Those lines!!

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  5. PrettyK

    November 27, 2013 at 4:49 am


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    November 27, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I’m leaving my support here before my “intelligent” daughter conducts experiments that will establish both of our IQ’s. I refuse for establish myself beneath another label. I’m rather smarter, younger and or establish. I just wish that people wish to ask me out for knowledge . I’m fully establish able for education outside of these circumstances.

    • Penguinlady

      November 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    • Alter

      November 28, 2013 at 12:28 am

      Say what…?

    • Shh

      November 29, 2013 at 7:14 am


    • mars

      December 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      What?? I don’t get it.

    • Charles Darwin

      December 3, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Cocaine is a hell of a drug

    • Shelly Voros

      December 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Google translate?

    • Evelyn

      December 4, 2013 at 3:34 am

      For someone who claims to be smart, that’s an interesting post.

    • Marcos

      December 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Isso que dar fumar crack e depois vir ver as imagens. Deixa a pessoa embaraçada mentalmente.

    • Yvonne

      December 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm


    • Didem

      June 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      You must really like the word “establish.”

    • A

      June 5, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      This could be someone who speaks English as a second or third language, in which case they are very intelligent.

  8. Durel Harris

    November 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    That’s off the chain surreal!!!

  9. Penguinlady

    November 27, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    You really have to work to see the real face beneath some of these, especially the second one. Masterfully done.

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  12. John

    November 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I’m glad I live in a world where people do neat things like this.

  13. Rachael

    November 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Hdeflum… hdefdumb

    • Midge

      June 8, 2016 at 5:33 am

      You really saved my skin with this inofomatirn. Thanks!

  14. Shane

    November 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Whoa that’s wild. I’m really liking that pixel-y one. Very cool.

  15. Steve B Robinson

    November 30, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    absolutely amazing !!!

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  19. thosequietmoments

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 am

    That last one looks like it’s conveying that under every black person is a white person…. As though white skin is some sort of “default” human state and there is a white person trapped behind black skin….That is really horrible if that was the intention consciously or unconsciously… The rest are cool.

    • Really?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      Dude… It’s just a corset.

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:02 am

        Haven’t any of you ever been taught the meaning of art?!?!? It’s goal is to get you to think about something in a way that’s not obvious. Assumed simple pieces are often the most loaded with meaning. By saying this makeup artist spent hours “just painting a corset” is saying that none of this is art. You are suppose to interpret it. Art is not some passive form of entertainment that encourages you to be simple minded. THINK ABOUT WHAT THE ARTIST MAY BE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE! She didn’t just waste her time reminding you what a damn corset looks like. Why don’t you all try to contribute by sharing how you interpret it??? I was hoping more people would be interested in discussing the artful meaning of this woman’s work rather than just drooling stupidly at the screen saying “Cool!” and moving on.

    • Ruth

      December 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm

      That is not what I got from that at all. I thought it represented the idea that we are all locked up in corsets, which control what we say and do.

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:05 am

        Thanks for sharing a real interpretation instead of trolling good people you don’t even know. I appreciate that and find that idea to be really interesting! Makes me wonder about the irony here, using makeup (something meant to cover and hide the truth) to expose this reality of people living with a facade… I wonder…

    • leroidesennuyances

      December 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      Are you serious? It looks like a corset or lace-up boot. Plus, you know the image has been converted to black and white to enhance the contrast between light and dark right? I believe you are reading far too much into it.

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:09 am

        I believe you are not reading enough into it. This woman is clearly a talented artists and artists never create pieces without instilling meaning into it. Artist don’t just want to entertain you, they want you to think about something differently, find meaning when it’s not apparent. Art is only art when it is jam packed with meaning up for interpretation. It’s suppose to challenge you to think… Why don’t you look at it again and share with me what it makes you feel and think about? Honor the artist with your willingness to give her work a second thought.

    • pushtak

      December 3, 2013 at 2:13 am

      I guess that’s just your interpretation. I don’t see it that way at all. Would be interested to hear if others see it the same way you do.

    • Amanda Pike

      December 3, 2013 at 7:29 am

      You’re a troll, aren’t you? It doesn’t even look like skin. I’m pretty sure it’s light hidden under darkness but not about literal complexion.

    • Jolly8574

      December 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

      I don’t think that was the intention, you are racist for suggesting it. RACIST!

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:14 am

        Wow, you made a HUGE jump there. Education (both institutional and life) will teach you how to stop believing you know everything about everyone and everything and help you to use more than 1% of that huge brain in your scull. This made me laugh, thanks.

    • You need to chill

      December 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      it’s a corset, silly (or hockey skates, or anything else you need to lace up). It’s about seeing a 3D face as a 2D picture of something else. Everything doesn’t have symbolize something else.

    • CharlieKakes

      December 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      huh? i didn’t get that from the picture at all. i thought it just looked like a corset with eyes. Kind of like “wanna take a peek?” I didn’t see it a racial thing at all. 🙁

    • Chris Bartholomew

      December 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      Or it could simply mean that there is light and dark inside everyone and that’s what balances life

    • Takeachillpill

      December 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      As a person sharing the same heritage as the artists in this post, I can assure you that thought would have never crossed their mind. Come to think of it, there is probably only a handful of people in the world that could make that connection. It would be like saying that the artist meant to say all people are really green pigs or everyone is a square. It’s art, don’t superimpose an issue that is troubling you onto everything you see.

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:46 am

        In mimicry of your condescending tone: As an educated person, I can assure you that the whole point of art is to communicate meaning up for interpretation. Art is not your TV, a form of passive entertainment. It’s meant to get you to think. The hyperbole of green pigs and squares to resemble the nature of interpretation of this art piece is so arrogant. Careful, your ego seems to be getting in the way of your logic…

        Besides that obvious fact, how the hell do you have the audacity to speak for everyone of your “heritage.” This comment is unbelievable and incredibly concerning. I didn’t know sharing heritage gave you a shared consciousness, I thought individuality of identity and beliefs was a thing. My mistake.

        You’ve clearly got a lot to learn in this life. You can’t have wisdom with that sort of arrogance.

    • zeb

      December 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Calm down

    • BirderWorley

      December 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Or it’s just a corset.

    • VeritasRasolas

      December 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Wow. That’s racist. No I’m pretty sure it’s about facades n clothing. I didnt for once think race and black or white people. You racist…

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:29 am

        “I didn’t once think.” Great observation, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • Muhammed

      December 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      I think you are thinking too far into it.
      They are merely optical illusions, and with your kind of thinking one could say the same of such mundane things, like ink on paper being inherently racist. Perhaps one perpetuates the struggle of humanity by fighting for distinction, as oppose to assimilation.

    • The Truth

      December 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Thosequietmoments… I think that means you’re racist..

    • shandrewsca

      December 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Funny – I got out of it a woman breaking free from her bonds. To each her own 🙂

      • thosequietmoments

        December 4, 2013 at 2:32 am

        I see that too! Just wondering what was the artists intent behind the color choices and how that helps her communicate her message because both layers could have been any color.

    • appendectomy

      December 4, 2013 at 12:02 am

      I’m pretty sure that’s a stupid interpretation.

    • Amber

      December 5, 2013 at 1:39 am

      I do think you may be reading too much into it. Most of the other ones are about creating illusions. Black and white are good contrasting colors and is used in the 3 pictures above that one without such a meaning

    • Vikkichen

      December 5, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Yeah, I think it’s suppose to symbolize entrapment of expectations; that underneath, your dreams and personal goals are still there, trying to bust out of the ever tightening vice of society. I don’t think it was meant to be about racial differences. I think the black and white symbolize “dark” and “light” / “sad” and “happy” / “evil” and “good”, you know?? The “evil” being the burdening expectations and the “good” is your true self shining past all of it. That’s what I got from it.

    • Strype

      December 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      A racial interpretation? That’s more of an insight in to your mental process and it speaks volumes about were your subconscious thoughts reside…… considering that’s what YOU got out of it.

    • ammua

      December 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm

      Not all artists, including make up artists have an ‘underlying meaning’ to their work.
      I can tell you that the last 3 images are a theme of ‘monochrome’. Painting black and white on the face is a VERY difficult task in itself, and the mua has perfectly executed this. And what someone has pointed out before ‘the corset is an optical illusion’ is correct too.
      If you were well enough educated in interpreting art you would understand that your OPINION is YOUR reaction to the work of art not everyone else’s.
      So stop patronising others about their views, and maybe take a reflection onto why you have your own?
      Oh and your condescending language doesn’t make you appear more educated in art. It just makes you look like a twat.

      – We’ll take that as an educated guess, maybe? 😉

    • Amy

      December 11, 2013 at 12:55 am

      In Russian culture, they often use the color black as the “every person” color when cartooning abstractions of people. Thus, with the source of this art being Russian artists, your interpretation is very likely nowhere near what was intended by the artists.

      In addition, the rude manner in which you tell everyone else they’re wrong only makes *you* look as ignorant as you’re accusing them of being.

      This thread, and the reactions you received might be a good wake up call to take a look inside yourself, as well as at the culture you are surrounded by, to consider why you reached that interpretation to begin with. You’re right, art is intended to make you think, so take this as a chance to think about yourself given the reactions you’ve received.

      Alternatively, if this actually was a Troll, I have to say well played. You did an effective job of summoning a mob.

    • Shocking

      December 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Or it looks like a corset? May be that your mind is the one making horrible subconscious assumptions.

    • Christine Rietsch

      December 31, 2013 at 6:49 am

      It conveyed a corset to me. Don’t know where you got that one from.

  20. Pingback: Just Using Make Up, Russian Artist Transforms Faces Into Mind-Blowing Optical Illusions (Photos) | Elite Daily

  21. Emily

    December 3, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Then it would have been symbolized by a zipper, and not a corset…? I think it’s purely fashion and art.

  22. Animation a Day

    December 3, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Love it! was featured on Animation a Day Facebook page:

  23. mo

    December 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    thosequietmoments you’re a moron and it’s dangerous comments like that that cause more offence than the thing you’re moaning about in the first place. Not for one second did i think that was the message and I think you’re looking for something that isn’t there just to say you saw it. The colours used aren’t even possible skin tones of humans, they’re absolute blank and white – also used in the 3 pictures before as well. Are you not u[set they’re implying we’re all circuit boards as well? THINK!

  24. emily

    December 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    art is in the eye of the beholder, if you’re seeing some racial undertone, it’s likely you with the issue, not the art. the work is amazing on all the faces!!

  25. Chris Bartholomew

    December 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Which is not unlike the chinese yin yang symbol

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  27. Nithu

    December 6, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Wow!!! that’s so wonderful!!!

  28. justin burrell

    December 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    “Haven’t any of you ever been taught the meaning of art?!?!? It’s goal is to get you to think about something in a way that’s not obvious.”

    Possibly racist but definitely patronising!

  29. Prashant Dudhaiya

    December 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Amazing art. Specially I liked the black and white dual face…

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  31. ammua

    December 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    These are perfectly executed pieces of work, the mua has amazing talent! The photographer is fantastic too how they haven’t over-done or under-done the 2d effect to the images! – A real inspiration

  32. myfoodeeblog

    December 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I think your all rasist and shood get a life

  33. rachelle

    December 12, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Any kind of art can be taken for face value or dissected into bits. Ultimately, I think that what will cause either interpretation would depend on the individuals current interest in the art genre, how intellectually stimulating based on interests or fascination the art may cause that individual and of coarse the current emotional and mental state of the person. If you connect with what your seeing, you will most likely read into more than if you don’t. Also, I personally enjoy looking at art work and dreaming up a million possible interpretations. My partner on the other hand is extremely intelligent and so logical in his thinking that most often he will interpret an art piece in a “non dissecting the crap out of it way” and it will make just as much sense and is just as fascinating. Looking at all the different ways people see things is the journey of learning and finding true wisdom.

  34. Gonzo

    December 29, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…

  35. Brad Allison

    December 31, 2013 at 4:43 am

    You lost me when you said “Retouching.” So in other words, this is Photoshop….

  36. Komal Mirza

    January 20, 2014 at 4:53 am


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