Optical Illusion Skull Images
Sometimes we stumble on strange backwaters of graphic arts history. One of those is the artistic tradition of creating images which appear normal, but also create a secondary image of a skull, an artistic optical illusion which was very popular it he late 19th and early 20th century, especially in France.
The most famous of these images is C. A. Gilbert’s 1892 sketch “All is Vanity” (see right) which depicts a girl seated at a vanity and admiring herself in a mirror, but if you ignore the details and focus on the whole image the various elements combine to create the appearance of a skull, making a point about the transitory nature of beauty.
As it turns out, Gilbert’s sketch inspired a trend and there are many other images from that period which are done in a similar style and producing a similar illusion, such as “L’Amour de Pierrot” which was produced in France in 1905 (see left). It depicts the characters Pierrot and Columbine and foreshadows a tragic outcome to their love.
When it comes to foreshadowing, none of these images is more on target than the politically motivated French 1894 cartoon “Familie Imperiale de Russie” which shows the Russian royal family inside a skull illusion.
In many cases these skull illusion pictures feature images of children or young lovers, drawing the contrast between youth and life and the inevitability of death, as shown in the examples shown below.
May 25, 2012 | Filed Under Found Art
New Font: BigBlok
A great many years ago when working in game publishing I had a real fascination with doing titles in a strong, super-bold font called Bolt Bold. The truth is I rather overused it. In doing some research I find it on more than a dozen different game books I wrote in the early 80s, all quite collectable and out of print today.
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Mannering is a new font design derived from some samples of an uppercase letter set by Samuel Welo, with additional lowercase characters and numbers added to it in the same style. It is a sans serif font with calligraphic lines and distinctive embellished horizontal cro[...]
Treadway is a new, original design in the tradition of futuristic advertising scripts of the mid-20th century, inspired by fonts like Kaufmann and Gillies, but with a stronger, more clearly defined look, stripped down to its most stylized essentials for a very powerful visual impact. It is the kind of type you'[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Lyceum has the stylized shape and look of a font designed for the program at a lecture hall, hence the name. It is super bold but remains highly readable at fairly small sized, though the contrasts are dramatic. It features only an uppercase characters set because the st[...]
Once again we are calling on the classic early 20th century lettering work of J. M. Bergling to produce a new font with a timeless look which combines elements of text and titling styles for a versatile and elegant effect. Diomedes includes a full set of upper and lower case characters plus an interesting sele[...]
In an article last week we explored the origins of the font used in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and a bit of the history of the Django genre of films. That was part of the process of the development of an original font based on the lettering used in the original Django, a process similar to what was p[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Iphegenia was one of our early designs, a creative advertising script font with a modern, hand-drawn look but regular character forms and a nice even line to it. It has high readability despite its decorative look and works well in combination with a variety of other fo[...]
Vasilisa is based on Russian folk art lettering from the pre-revolutionary period. It is included in our original Russian Fonts and Art package. It is very readable in English but also includes elements of Cyrillic lettering. It is evocative of rural Russian life and fits well with the hand crafted peasant wood[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Our Froissart font was first released in 2000 as part of our Medieval Fonts and Art package. It is an accurate recreation of the Littera Bastarda calligraphic style which was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries as gothic styles were losing popularity and there was a demand for s[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Potsdam was one of our earliest font releases, first produced in 1992 based on samples of 19th century decorative German type. It was one of our first fonts designed for MacIntosh computer users and follows the naming convention for Mac fonts of that era, being named after a city. [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Slava is based on lettering by legendary Art Nouveau master Alphons Mucha from his later post-Parisian period when he returned to Prague and did a lot of design work in support of the slavic nationalist movement. The letter forms still have many of the characteristics of[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Cosmic Dude was designed as one of the special original fonts developed for our Modern Poster Fonts package. The character forms are based on samples of hand lettering from a late 1970s rock show poster. The character set includes numbers, punctuation, uppercase letter[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Malagua was originally released in 1999 and has been revised several times since then, culminating in this new release with improved weighting and additional special characters. MAlagua is based on examples of rough hand lettering from the 17th century. It has characteristics [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Sanhedrin is a decorative futuristic font, which features two distinct sets of different characters and a number of additional special characters. It draws some characters from the Greek alphabet and also has some unusual art nouveau character forms and a strange biblic[...]
Black Cow is a unique original font designed for our Horror Fonts and Art collection several years ago. It's one of the most interesting fonts in the large selection of fonts in that package, but it hasn't had the huge level of popularity which some of the other fonts have enjoyed. It has an all uppercase chara[...]
When we did a font (and a feature article) recently based on a design by Alexander Rodchenko, the result was a very cool font, but while it was based on Rodchenko lettering, it is not the style most associated with his work. The tall thin look of the Rodchenko font is less typical of his work than the heavier,[...]
It's been a while since we released any new art from our collection of fairytale books illustrated by Charles Folkard. So it's about time we make available this collection of his illustrations for Grimm's Fairy Tales. This mini-package includes 8 beautifully drawn and colored images from stories by the Brothers Grim[more]
While I still think it may be some sort of obscure and premature April Fool's joke, an article called Kerning, Kerning, kerning through the years in the Washington Post presents a mildly humorous presentation of the story of a 14 year old research genius who figured out that switching from a heavier weight font to a li[more]
I was shopping in my local HEB grocery store this weekend and found myself in the soft drink section, confronted by a wall of cool retro-looking bottles of all sorts of sodas from the Dublin Bottling Works, a company based in Dublin Texas which produces a full line of specialty soft drinks, apparently mostly for distri[more]
Every year we try to amuse with some sort of April Fools prank. This year visitors to the site were first greeted by what looked like a hacker takeover, a modest joke, but we've done some even bigger and sillier things in previous years. Here are some examples preserved as best we could. 1998 April Fools Page 1999[more]
As part of Great Britain's participation in the 1906 World's Fair in Chicago, legendary Arts and Crafts artist Walter Crane was comissioned to produce a special commemorative book in a limited edition. The result was Columbia's Courtship, an epic poem about American history, written and hand lettered by Walter Crane w[more]
I'm back at Typecon and things are in full swing now. There was a long but fascinating keynote presentation from Tobias Frere-Jones last night on type as security in banknotes. It was the main entertainment for the evening and went on an on for a bit. I actually had to cut out before I could ask my question - "Why ar[more]
Click any font to see a larger sample. The new second edition of our Arts & Crafts font collection features 15 fonts based on designs from the Arts & Crafts movements of the late Victorian period. They are derived from designs from several branches of the movement, and demon[more]
There are many good things about Typecon and many nice things I could say, but instead I find myself seized with a compulsion to recast Typecon like old metal type that's melted down and mold into a new font. I've got lots of experience with conferences in a number of different industries, as an attendee. a sponsor,[more]
- The Colonial Fonts Collection
- web designer developer salary: For newest news you have to pay a visit world-wide-web and on the web I found this web site as a best web page…
- New Font: Lyceum
- Options For Root Factors For new songs: sites to do the hard work for the consumer, but buyers are also looking for a user experience that goes beyond simple price comparisons. released…
- Futuristic Fonts - Updated and Expanded
- Top Producer Formula Webinar: This post provides clear idea in support of the new viewers of blogging, that truly how to do running a blog.
- pawn shops near me that buy guns: Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I'm getting fed…
- Classic Font: Vasilisa
- Welcome to the Scriptorium
- Dave: Glad to connect with you. What calligraphic style are we talking about? I'd love to see some examples. Dave
- Risa Gettler, Graphic Designer/Illustrator/Calligraher: Hi Dave, I feel like I know you because I hang out on your beautiful site and look forward to your comments such as…
- The Colonial Fonts Collection