You have to wonder what the medal looks like for winning a "Best Illusion of the Year" award. Assuming they give them out, Meiji University engineering professor Kokichi Sugihara now has one after placing second in 2016's competition, held by the science-promoting Neural Correlate Society.
Sugihara's submission was more interesting to us than the one that placed first, not only because the former's creation is clearly 3D-printed, but because any industrial designer or ID student who draws ought to be able to figure it out immediately. Here's the illusion:
The reason we say an ID'er ought have figured it out is because of our ability to sketch 3D shapes. In school our drawing professors had us start off drawing cubes in perspectives, gradually transitioning to more complex shapes. Once the shapes became more complicated, angled and contoured—say, if drawing a car—we inevitably crank out a drawing where our chosen perspective must be scrapped, as a particular piece of geometry looks "wrong" due to the angle. A gentle fender flare, for instance, can look like a deceptively aggressive series of straight lines depending upon where you place your vanishing points and the "camera."
We figured this clearly had to be the source of Sugihara's witchcraft, and we were right:
We think this is the best illusion of the bunch, but if you're curious to see the other finalists, they're here.