These Strawberries Are Not Red, Don’t Believe Your Eyes

by : Freelancer One on :
Akiyoshi Kitaoka/Twitter

Do you like starting arguments? Get a kick out of causing all-out war? Well, you’re going to love this, because it’s the best thing since the blue/gold dress.

That’s right, there’s another image in town that’s sure to start a heated discussion or two. This time it’s a bunch of strawberries that look red – and of course they should be red – but they’re not.


If all you can see is red, or a dulled version of red then you’re not alone. The image is an optical illusion created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at the Ritsumeikan University in Osaka, Japan.

The colour of the image above isn’t red, but is instead a greeny-greyish colour when inspected closer in software like Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Paint.

There are no red pixels at all in the image, and the phenomenon can be explained by colour constancy that is similar to the technique used to fool people in that darned dress picture from years ago.


To understand colour constancy, you have to understand that objects don’t actually have colours, and instead the colour is a product of each person’s perception.

Hot air balloon colours example of colour constancyWikimedia Commons

Colour perception works by the eye essentially guessing the colour of an object. It does this to ensure whatever you’re looking at – strawberries, a chair or phone, for example – looks the same under different lights.

The blue tint over the image is recognised by the eye and the brain, and the perceived colour is altered to account for this change in light source.


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The strawberries in the image are actually grey, and to understand why, it takes a bit of reverse engineering and understanding of colour.


Bevil Conway, a visual perception expert from the National Eye Institute, explained to Vice:

Your brain says, ‘The light source that I’m viewing these strawberries under has some blue component to it, so I’m going to subtract that automatically from every pixel.’ And when you take grey pixels and subtract out this blue bias, you end up with red.


Professor Kitaoka has even started his own website showcasing some of his favourite optical illusions that he has created. Some really do have to be seen to be believed, so you better check them out here for yourselves.

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  1. Vice

    This Picture Has No Red Pixels—So Why Do the Strawberries Still Look Red?