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A Fun Optical Illusion Makes This Robotic Doodler Appear to Draw Faster Than It Moves

Although clearly a clever artist in his own right, James Nolan Gandy shows that even the artistically-challenged can produce a masterpiece with some clever engineering. But just as impressive as Gandy’s drawing machines is this timelapse of one in action that makes it appear to draw faster than it actually moves.


What you’re seeing in this timelapse is an example of a camera’s shutter being almost perfectly in sync with the movements of the subject it’s filming. You’ve probably seen footage of helicopters flying where it looks like the rotor is barely spinning. That’s what’s happening here, but in this case the movements of the robotic doodling arm appear to be dramatically slowed in relation to the drawings it’s creating on the page.


Gandy actually showcases quite a few of his robotic doodling creations on his Instagram account, which are all equally fascinating and hypnotic to see in action, even without an optical illusion effect. Using a combination of pulleys, gears, and an electric motor, Gandy’s machines produce mathematically-perfect patterns that are incredibly satisfying to see being generated. In this case, getting there is even better than the destination.

[Instagram via The Awesomer]

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That’s not an optical illusion. An optical illusion is caused by your visual system, when your brain perceives visual information differently from reality.

This is just, as you say, the camera shutter picking up frames selectively. Your eyes are seeing exactly what is on screen, it’s just the screen that’s out of sync with reality. It’s fun to look at, but it’s not an optical illusion.