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The best optical illusion of the year is definitely the most baffling

A screenshot from The Phantom Queen illusion video on YouTube
(Image credit: Best Illusion of the Year Contest)

In terms of optical illusions, there's been a whole host of interesting, innovative and mind-bending designs to sink your teeth into this year. But if you're wondering what the best illusion of year is (because who isn't?), then we have the answer. Say hello to The Phantom Queen. 

This total mind-boggler has just won the Best Illusion of the Year Contest (because apparently, that's a thing), and we have to admit, it sure is a good one. Aptly named The Phantom Queen, the illusion sees a seemingly invisible queen chess piece move across the board in a mirrored reflection, but magically, not on the actual chessboard (and no it's not a fake mirror). Fancy making your very own illusion? If the answer is yes, then make sure you check out our guide on how to create 3D optical illusions.

As you can see in the video above, the queen is not actually invisible, it's just a very well designed 3D illusion. The illusion works from only one particular angle above the chessboard and the clever design means that the 3D shape built onto the board blends in and hides the chess piece from view, which, according to the video (opens in new tab) is called 'anamorphic perspective'.  

A screenshot from the Illusion of the Year contest video

How do people come up with these illusions? (Image credit: The Illusion of the Year Contest)

This utterly perplexing design was created by Matt Pritchard, who explains the illusion in a little more detail over on the Illusion of the Year website (opens in new tab). Pritchard says, "The illusion is achieved by creating a camouflaged invisibility cloak that shields the Queen from one viewing angle". And while we know this is just an illusion, we can't help but wonder if this concept could be used to create a type of invisibility cloak in the future (we can but dream).

We can't wait to see what fascinating and baffling illusions 2022 has in store for us, but in the meantime, we're happy to reflect on the best illusions of 2021 via the Illusion of the Year website (opens in new tab), where you can explore all the runners up in the competition. And if that doesn't satisfy your optical illusion craving, then why not check out our roundup of the best optical illusions of all time?

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Amelia is Creative Bloq’s Staff Writer. After completing a degree in Popular Music and a Master’s in Song Writing, Amelia began designing posters, logos, album covers and websites for musicians. She now enjoys covering a range of topics on Creative Bloq, including posters, optical illusions, logos (she's a particular fan of logo Easter eggs), gaming and illustration. In her free time, she relishes in the likes of art (especially the Pre-Raphaelites), photography and literature. Amelia prides herself on her unorthodox creative methods, her Animal Crossing island and her extensive music library.