Visual effects - Psychedelics

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This article attempts to break down the visual effects contained within the psychedelic experience into simple, easy to understand titles, descriptions and levelling systems. This is done without depending on metaphors, analogies or personal trip reports. The article starts off with descriptions of the simpler effects and works its way up towards more complex experiences as it progresses.



Colour enhancement

Main article: Colour enhancement

Colour enhancement can be defined as the experience of colors generally starting to stand out more and becoming extremely bright or vivid. During this experience, reds may seem “redder”, greens may seem “greener, ” and all colors will likely have become much more distinct, powerful and intense to look at than they comparatively would be during everyday, sober living.

Image examples


Main article: Magnification
Magnification by StingrayZ - This is an animated example of the common psychedelic visual effect known as magnification. There is also a signifigant amount of visual drifting present within the animation.

Magnification can be described as the experience of distant details within one's visual field appearing closer and more "zoomed in" than they actually are due to both visual enhancements and hallucinatory effects. This is to the point where it can give one the perception that they are seeing objects from greater distances than is usually possible within everyday life.

At its lower levels, this can allow people to see objects that are within reaching distance as closer than they really are, resulting in the perception that there has been a general enhancement of visual capabilities. At its higher levels, this can induce the perception of seeing objects as if they were right in front of the user across vast stretches of distance. These distances can range between several feet to hundreds of meters. Since this is most likely a physiological impossibility, it suggests that higher level visual magnification may actually be a seamless hallucinatory state which predictively simulates the details of distant visual input in a realistic and convincing manner.

This effect is uncommon but can spontaneously manifest itself for short periods of time under the influence of certain psychedelics. It is considerably more likely to occur if one spends extended periods of time staring at an object or scene within the distance.

Pattern recognition enhancement

Face in a cloud by Neil Usher - This image serves as an example of pattern recognition enhancement.

Pattern recognition enhancement can be described as an increase in a person's ability to recognise significant imagery (usually faces) within vague stimuli.

This innate ability which human beings possess in everyday life is referred to by the scientific literature as pareidolia and is a very well documented phenomenon.[1][2][3] Common examples of this include spotting faces in everyday objects or perhaps viewing clouds as a variety of potentially different objects.

During this experience, pareidolia can become significantly more intense and pronounced than it would usually be during everyday sober living. For example, scenery may look remarkably like detailed images, every day objects may look like faces and clouds may appear as fantastical objects, all without any visual alterations actually taking place. Once an image has been perceived within an object or landscape, the mind may further exaggerate this recognition through the hallucinatory effect known as transformations so that it goes beyond pareidolia and becomes a standard visual hallucination.

Image examples

Acuity enhancement

Main article: Acuity enhancement
Visual acuity enhancement by StingrayZ - This animation serves as a replication of visual acuity enhancement, which is a common psychedelic effect. It demonstrates the general differences between normal vision and acuity enhancement by shifting between the two states. There is also a subtle amount of visual drifting within this replication.

Acuity enhancement is defined as an enhancement of the acuteness or clearness of vision. This results in the visual details attributed to the external environment becoming heightened to the point where the edges of objects become perceived as extremely focused, clear and defined. At its highest level, one may experience the perception that they can now comprehend their entire visual field at once (including the peripheral vision). In comparison, when one is sober they are typically only able to perceive in detail the small area of central vision that their eye is currently focused on.[4]

Whilst under the influence of this component, it is very common for people to suddenly notice patterns and details that they may have never previously appreciated or acknowledged. For example, when looking at sceneries, nature, and everyday textures, the complexity and perceived beauty of the visual input often becomes suddenly obvious.

Image examples


After images

Main article: After images
After images by StingrayZ - This image serves as an accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced psychedelic effect known as after images. There is also a significant amount of visual drifting within its background.

After Images are a visual distortion that can be described as an image continuing to appear in one's vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased. A common form of after images is the bright glow that seems to float before one's eyes after looking into a light source for a few seconds. This effect is similar to tracers but differs in the way that it does not create smooth blurs behind moving objects.

Within hallucinogen usage, still overlayed images of moving objects are commonly left in place of where the object once was. This creates a series of overlayed images across one's visual field which become less distinct the further away they are from the moving object's current position. Another manifestation of this effect can be described as being able to see the external environment for several seconds after one closes their eyes before it gradually fades away.

Colour replacement

Main article: Colour replacement

Colour replacement is an effect which can be described as the experience of one's visual field as a whole or specific objects and sections within it becoming replaced with an alternative color which differs from their original appearance. For example, one's vision could turn purple, the green leaves of a tree could become red or a black car could become white.

Although similar, this component differs from color shifting as it is a static change in color which remains still and semi-permanent as opposed to constantly cycling between various hues, tints and shades.


Main article: Diffraction

Diffraction can be described as a visual effect where as a result of pupil dilation, some light sources which hit the lens of the eye will appear spread into a larger range of the spectrum rather than a consolidated wavelength. This results in the experience of rainbows and spectrums of color embedded across the brighter parts of one's visual field and can be a common experience during day to day life for some people.

Image examples

Perspective distortions

Size distortions by Anonymous - This image serves as an accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced effect known as perspective distortions.

Perspective distortions can be described as subtle to drastic changes in the size and distance attributed either to a person’s body, to specific parts of the external environment or to the external environment as a whole.

When affecting distance, perspective distortions can make things seem as if they are physically closer or further away than they usually would be. For example, this can range from a subtle experience such as the other side of the room feeling marginally further away than it usually would be or it can be an extreme experience such as feeling as if the horizon is right in front of you. Perspective distortions are distinct from perspective alterations because alterations follow a more specific out of body-like experience, though both can manifest at the same time.

When affecting size, perspective distortions can make things seem as if they are physically smaller or larger in terms of the sense of size that one would usually attribute to them. For example, this can range from a subtle experience such as the the room feeling marginally smaller and more cramped than it usually would be or it can be an extreme experience such as feeling as if the room is hundreds of miles wide or even infinitely huge.

Feelings of suddenly having an impossibly giant or tiny body are also a very common manifestation of this effect. This feeling is already known by the scientific literature as “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” where it is seen as a temporary condition often associated with migraines, brain tumours and the use of psychoactive drugs. The effect can either be specifically attributed to the body as a whole or certain parts of it. For example, feelings of having a huge head or tiny limbs are entirely possible.


Main article: Recursion
Album art by Leif Podhajsky for Innerspeaker by Tame Impala. This image serves as an accurate replication of visual recursion manifesting over a natural landscape.

Recursion can be described as a visual distortion which manifests spontaneously for temporary periods of time. Once manifested, it partially to completely alters the appearance of one's external environment by repeating specific sections of itself across itself in a self-similar fashion. This experience results in the appearance of fractal-like patterns which often zoom into or away from the original image.

Image examples

Colour shifting

Main article: Colour shifting
UV Mandala by StingrayZ - This image serves as an accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced psychedelic effect known as color shifting as seen within a mandala tapestry. There is also a significant amount of visual drifting.

Colour shifting can be described as a visual effect in which the colors of various objects (particularly bright or out of place objects) shift and change their appearance through a repeated cycling of varying colors in a strange and fluid motion across their surface. For example, moss on a rock could physically shift from green to red to blue to any other color and then back to green again in the visual style of a smooth and seamless animated loop.

Image examples


Main article: Drifting
White Wolf Drinking Water by Anonymous - This animated .gif serves as an image example for a very common manifestation of psychedelic visual drifting which is specifically in the form of flowing.

Visual drifting can be described as the experience of objects and scenery appearing progressively warped, melted and morphed across themselves. These alterations gradually increase as a person stares, but are non-permanent and will reset to their normal appearance the moment one double takes.

This effect is capable of manifesting itself across 4 different levels of visual intensity defined below.

  1. Peripheral - The most basic form of visual drifting can be described as a wiggling of straight lines within the external environment. This occurs exclusively within one's peripheral vision and cannot be directly looked at.
  2. Direct - At this level, visual drifting does not necessarily increase in its intensity, but can now be directly looked at within a person's central line of sight. This partially alters the appearance and form of shapes, objects, and sceneries within the external environment, causing them to subtly drift, bend and morph.
  3. Distinct - At this level, visual drifting becomes powerful enough to drastically alter and transform the shape of specific objects within one's external environment. This is often to the point where they can become progressively unrecognizable in comparison to their original form assuming one stares at the distortion and keeps their eyes relatively motionless.
  4. All-encompassing - At the highest level of visual drifting, the intensity becomes powerful enough to distort not just specific objects beyond recognition but every single point of a person's vision and the entirety of the external environment in its whole. This creates the appearance of an extremely smudged, warped and blended unrecognizable mass of visual data.

The particular style of this visual effect depends on the specific continuously changing direction, speed, and rhythm of the distortion. This results in a small variety of different manifestations which are defined and listed below.


Morphing can be described as an effect of visual drifting which is completely disorganized and spontaneous in both its rhythm and direction. It results in objects and scenery appearing to change gradually, morph and warp in their size, shape, configuration and general appearance.


Breathing can be described as an effect of visual drifting which makes objects and scenery appear to be steadily contracting inwards and expanding outwards with a consistent rhythm in a similar fashion to the lungs of a living organism.


Melting can be described as an effect of visual drifting which results in objects and scenery appearing to completely or partially melt. It begins at lower doses as a gradual liquidation of objects which causes them to subtly droop, wobble, and lose their structural integrity. This gradually increases until it becomes impossible to ignore as the lines, textures, and color between solid objects melt into one another in an extremely fluid style.


Flowing can be described as an effect of visual drifting which seems to occur almost exclusively on textures (particularly if they are highly detailed, complex, or rough in appearance). This results in the textures flowing like a river in a seamless, looped animation and is particularly common on wood grain or the fur of animals.

Image examples


  • Intricate vs. Simplistic – In terms of its complexity, drifting can alter the external environment in a way that spreads out in many different complex directions and results in the original piece of sensory input becoming completely unrecognizable in appearance. Alternately, it will be simplistic in nature and stick to simple warping, wiggling and bending even at high dosages of psychoactive substances.
  • Slow vs. Fast – Drifting can manifest itself as something that progresses in its visual alterations at a fast and sudden rate or it can manifest gradually and slowly as a person stares into it.
  • Smooth vs. Jittery – In terms of its motion, drifting can manifest itself as a smooth, fluid and flawless movement or it can manifest as jittery with an extremely slow frame rate that moves in sudden and partial transitions.
  • Static vs. Fleeting – In terms of its permanence, drifting will either maintain its position until one performs a double take or will be extremely fleeting in its nature, meaning that it will reset almost as soon as a person tries to look directly at it.
  • Realistic vs. Unrealistic – Drifting can either look convincing in its appearance or it can look extremely cartoon-like and unrealistic.

Depth perception distortions

Depth perception distortions can be defined as the experience of both extreme and subtle distortions in depth perception. During this state, the various depths and layers of a scenery can become exaggerated, skewed or completely rearranged in their organisation. A classic example of this could be the swapping of layers in a scenery. This is where objects in the background begin to appear as if they are in the foreground and objects in the foreground get pushed into the background.

Another example of altered depth perception can be described as a complete loss of it. This occurs when the different sections of a scenery appear to unify into a flat 2-Dimensional image regardless of their actual distance from each other and the observer.


Main article: Tracers
Tracers by Kaylee - This animation serves as an accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced psychedelic effect known as tracers (level 3).

Tracers can be described as the experience of trails of varying lengths and opacity being left behind moving objects in a manner that is similar to those found in long exposure photographs. These can manifest as exactly the same color of the moving object which is producing it or can sometimes be a seemingly randomly selected color of their own.

A near consistent way to reproduce this visual effect is to simply move one's hand in front of their face or throw an object under the influence of a moderate dose of psychedelics.

Tracers can be broken down into 4 basic levels of visual intensity. These are defined below as:

  1. Subtle - The most basic form of tracer can be described as an almost completely transparent after image which disappears quickly and drags shortly behind moving objects.
  2. Distinct - At this level, tracers increase in their length to become roughly half as long as the distance across the visual field which the object it is following has moved. The clarity of these tracers shifts from barely visible to distinct and partially transparent in colour.
  3. Intense - At this level, tracers become mostly solid in appearance and almost completely opaque in their colour with increasingly distinct and sharp edges to their shape. This creates a clear contrast between the tracer itself and the background behind it. The tracers become slower to fade from one's vision and can remain in the air for up to several seconds. This results in longer trails covering the entire distance across the visual field which the object creating it has moved.
  4. All-encompassing - The highest level occurs at the point when a person’s visual field has become so sensitive to the creation of tracers that it entirely smudges and blurs into an all-encompassing tracer at the slightest movement of an object or the eye. This can make it extremely difficult to see unless the eyes are kept still in a motionless environment as tracers linger almost indefinitely or until one looks elsewhere within their visual field.

Image examples

Symmetrical texture repetition

Grass by Chelsea Morgan - This image serves as accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced psychedelic effect known as Symmetrical texture repetition.

Symmetrical texture repetition can be described as the perception of textures becoming mirrored repeatedly over their own surface in an intricate and symmetrical fashion that is consistent across itself. This maintains the same level of detail no matter how closely one attempts to look at the distortion and tends to remain most prominent within one's peripheral vision. It usually manifests itself through rough textures such as grass, carpets, asphalt, tarmac, towels, rugs, gravel, general bracken, dense vegetation, fallen leaves, tree bark and more.

During this state, if one stares at a fixed point, the Symmetrical texture repetition may progressively increase and further tesselate into more complex forms. However, this progression of complexity will usually reset back to baseline as soon as one double takes.

The experience of this effect is nearly universal under the influence of serotonergic psychedelics such as LSD, 2C-B and psilocin. The symmetrical forms it induces are also often complemented by the simultaneous experience of pattern recognition enhancement, resulting in the appearance of a huge array of abstract forms, imagery and patterns embedded within and across the symmetry.

Scenery slicing

Main article: Scenery slicing
Scenery Slicing by StingrayZ - This image serves as an accurate portrayal of the commonly experienced effect known as scenery slicing.

Scenery slicing can be described as an effect which only occurs spontaneously and rarely sustains itself for more than several seconds. The experience of this effect splits the visual field into separate sections. These individual slices then proceed to drift slowly away from their original position before disappearing and resetting to normality.

The organisation of these slices show great variety; they can be as simple as three separate sections or extremely complex with formations such as multiple intricate slices of moving interlocking spirals or an infinite variety of other potential geometric designs.

Image examples


Main article: Geometry
Switch by Sam Perkins - This image serves as an example of a single frame of typical level 4 psychedelic geometry.

Geometry can be described as the experience of a person’s field of vision being partially or completely encompassed by fast-moving, colorful and indescribably complex geometric patterns, form constants, phosphenes, shapes, fractals, structures, and color. These geometric forms can also become structured and organized in a way that presents genuine information to the person experiencing it far beyond the perception of meaningless, although complex, shapes and colors. This can happen through the experience of innately understood geometric representations that feel as though they depict specific concepts and neurological components that exist within the brain in a manner that is extremely detailed.

Geometry rarely stands still at any point and remains extremely fast-changing and self-transforming regarding its shape and style. During this process, the geometry naturally drifts laterally or radially across the visual field to create overlapping webs of many arising and decaying geometric patterns, all of which are visible within a single perceptual frame.

There are eight different levels of visual geometry, each one increasingly complex and difficult to comprehend. These tend to depend on the dosage but can also fluctuate widely in their intensity due to external triggers such as one's set and setting. The individual levels are defined and documented below:

1. Visual noise

This is the most basic level of geometry and can be experienced in a completely sober state. It can be described as visual noise or static combined with stray light and dark red regions that can be seen under the eyelids.

2. Motion and color

This level is also easily obtainable without hallucinogens and can be described as the appearance of unstructured regions of sudden flashes and clouds of color. These are typically referred to as phosphenes and can often be experienced in a sober state by rubbing or applying pressure on or near the closed eyes.

3. Partially defined geometry

At this level, relatively complex shapes and patterns with a vague structure begin to show themselves. However, the patterns remain as strictly 2-dimensional. Geometry at this level is fine, small and zoomed out in size with a dark color palette that typically limits itself to only a few different shades such as blacks, reds and dark purples. They are displayed in front of both the open and closed eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry. However, they are significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or within dark environments.

4. Fully defined geometry

This is the level where the detail in which the geometry displaying itself becomes profoundly complex and fully structured but still remains strictly 2-dimensional. At this point, the geometry becomes larger in size and extremely intricate in detail with a color palette that is near limitless in its possibilities. They are displayed on both the open and closed eye visual field across a flat veil of geometry that floats directly in front of the eyes, remaining significantly more detailed with the eyes closed or in dark environments.

5. 3-Dimensional geometry

At level five, the geometry will become fully 3-dimensional in its shape and position across the visual field. This adds a new layer of visual complexity and leaves them sprawled out across the surfaces, walls, objects and furniture of one's environment instead of merely displaying themselves across a basic and flat veil in front of one's visual field.

6. Partially overriding visual perception

At this point, the geometry has become so intense, vivid and bright that it has begun to block out and replace the external world. At level six, the visual perception of one's environment begins to be replaced by geometry, with objects and scenery either transforming into complex geometric structures or simply being blocked out and covered by them. This occurs in a manner that drastically impairs the use of one's normal vision. From this level of geometry onwards (although this is more common at higher levels), it is even possible to view geometry which is perceived to be four-dimensional or created from new ineffable, non-euclidean or nonsensical geometric principles.

7. Fully overriding visual perception

As the geometry continues to become more intense, vivid and bright it now completely blocks out or replaces the external world and one's sense of normal sight becomes completely impaired. This creates the perception that one is no longer within the external environment but has "broken through" into another reality of extremely complex and otherworldly geometric forms.

Level 8A and level 8B

Once the geometry reaches its eighth and final level, there is not one single pinnacle of visual geometry but two. It seems that depending on subtle environmental factors, one's own state of mind and the substance consumed, geometry is capable of forking off into two separate versions of its highest possible level. This means that level 8 geometry will have to be divided into two distinct categories of equal intensity known as levels 8A and 8B.

Once visual geometry reaches level 8A or 8B, it begins to become structured and organized in a way that presents genuine information to the person experiencing it far beyond the preceding seven levels of relatively meaningless although complex shapes and colors. This happens through the experience of innately understood geometric representations that feel as though they depict specific concepts and neurological components that exist within the brain. Although this is also possible at lower levels, it does not occur consistently in the same way that it does at level 8A and 8B. At this point, concepts can be seen as not just embedded within one's closed or open eye visual field but can also be simultaneously felt through indescribably complex physical and cognitive sensations.

It is worth noting that there are particular attributes of psychedelics which tend to result a higher likelihood of level 8B over level 8A and vice versa. Psychedelics which are stimulating in physical effects and contain low amounts of hallucinatory content usually result in level 8A. For example, psychedelics which contain these attributes include LSD, 2C-B and 4-HO-MET. In contrast, psychedelics which lead to level 8B are typically sedating in physical effects and contain high amounts of hallucinatory content. For example, psychedelics which contain these attributes include psilocin, DMT and 2C-C.

8A - Perceived exposure to semantic concept network
A visualisation of the brain's semantic concept hierarchy based upon data collected through fMRI scans.[5][6]

8A geometry is one of the two potential final levels of visual geometry; the other is 8B geometry.

A level 8A experience can be described as the feeling of being exposed to a seemingly infinite mass of geometry comprised entirely of innately comprehensible representations which are perceived to simultaneously convey every internally stored concept, memory, and neurological structure stored within the subconscious mind simultaneously. This experience is not just perceived through visual geometric data but is also physically felt in an incomprehensible level of detail that manifests at every point across itself as complex cognitive and tactile sensations. These sensations convey an equal amount of innately understandable information as that which is also experienced through one's sense of vision.

At the lower side of level 8A, this effect is something that fluctuates wildly and is neither constant nor consistent in its intensity. Instead, it is momentarily triggered by the experience of a concept. For example, if somebody were to say the word “Internet” to a person who is currently undergoing this state, they would see the mind's concept of the "Internet" immediately manifested in a geometric form amidst the very center of their visual field. This form will then quickly branch out from itself in a manner which is similar to an ineffable spider diagram. This further expands to envelop the concepts which one associates with the original concept before branching out again to include the concepts one associates with those before repeating this process of branching out further ad infinitum. Within roughly 2 - 3 seconds, this exponentially expands within a sudden perceptual flash to include every single internally stored concept within the subconscious memory banks of one's mind simultaneously.

Once this occurs, the sensory overload can temporarily disconnect one from their external environment and result in simultaneous long-term memory suppression or "ego death" before re-stacking the person back into reality until something triggers the process again (usually immediately). The effect typically snaps one in and out of reality repeatedly as the process is triggered continuously by external stimuli.

It's worth noting, however, that at this level it can, to a certain extent, be disabled through continuous physical movement. This is because movement seemingly stops the process from branching out into everything by not giving the effect the time it needs to lock onto a concept.

As the dose of the psychoactive substance is increased, the process becomes easier to trigger whilst extending in its length and duration. This eventually results in a stable state of complete disconnection from the external environment alongside of sustained "ego death" and a lasting sense of subjectively experiencing all of existence, everything there is, and the entire universe, in a single instant.

8B - Perceived exposure to inner mechanics of consciousness
An analogous representation of the visualization of neural circuitry

8B geometry is one of the two potential final levels of visual geometry; the other is 8A geometry.

The experience of level 8B can be described as the feeling of being exposed to a mass of geometry comprised entirely of innately readable geometric representations which subjectively feel as if they convey the inner mechanics that compose all underlying conscious and subconscious neurological processes. During this experience, the organization, structure, framework, and programming behind the brain are perceived as conceptually understood. It is generally interpreted by those who undergo it as perceiving the supposed inner workings of either the universe, consciousness or reality. This experience as a whole is perceived through visual geometric data and is also physically felt in an incomprehensible level of detail throughout every point across itself as complex cognitive and tactile sensations.

At the lower end of level 8B geometry, the experience manifests itself as being able to perceive the supposed organization and structure behind one's current conscious thought stream. This is typically presented in the form of a complex, multisensory, and fast-moving web or network that contains innately understood and relevant geometric representations of specific and abstract concepts embedded into each and every one of the connecting points across the geometric forms.

The experience of these innately readable geometric representations consistently triggers one to visualize and physically feel the concept through highly detailed conceptual thinking. The ever-shifting mental and physical network follows the pace and rhythm of one's internal dialogue perfectly.

At the higher end of level 8B geometry, the effect retains its lower levels (described above) but expands itself to include the experience of subjectively perceiving, through innately readable geometric representations, the supposed architecture of subconscious neurological processes which are usually outside of one's normal daily perception or understanding. These processes are often interpreted to include concepts such as the architecture of one's neurology, memories, perspectives, emotions and general cognitive functions.

Level 8B geometry may feel capable of bestowing specific pieces of information onto substance users regarding the nature of reality and human consciousness through the simple experience of them. These specific pieces of information are usually felt and understood to be a profound unveiling of an undeniable truth at the time, but afterwards they are often found to be either ineffable or simply nonsensical and delusional.

Occasionally, however, genuine lessons or coherent messages are innately interpreted through this experience. It’s extremely important to note, however, that the scientific validity of these lessons is very uncertain and should never be immediately accepted as true without an extremely thorough and sober analysis after the experience.

It is worth noting that a greatly simplified and purely cognitive version of this effect is also capable of manifesting itself with no accompanying visual effects.

Image examples

Psychedelic artwork


Shipibo textiles


  • Intricate vs. simplistic - Geometry can either present itself as incomprehensibly intricate and complex in its appearance or simplistic, basic and comprehensible even at higher doses. For example, the geometry associated with dissociatives tends to be consistently overly simplistic in form while most psychedelics are significantly more intricate.
  • Algorithmic vs. abstract - Geometry can either appear to follow mathematical rules and logically consistent forms in its design (which often results in high amounts of fractals and semi-predictable shapes). In contrast to this, however, geometry can also be completely abstract or random in its appearance in a way that contains an infinite amount of completely unpredictable variety.
  • Organic vs. synthetic - Geometry can either feel subjectively organic and natural in its visual style, or it can feel synthetic and digital.
  • Unstructured vs. structured - Geometry can either present itself as completely disorganized and unstructured or it can form and condense into a variety of 3-dimensional mechanical and ever-shifting structures which are comprised out of and based upon condensed geometry.
  • Dimly lit vs. brightly lit - Geometry can either present itself as extremely dark and hard to make out from its background or, in contrast, it can be brightly lit and extremely easy to distinguish from its background. For example, the geometry associated with dissociatives tends to be consistently darker in appearance while most psychedelics are significantly brighter.
  • Multicolored vs. monotone - The color scheme that geometry follows can range from extremely varied and multicolored in style to consisting of little (if any) color variety such as grays, purples and blacks
  • Flat shading vs. glossy shading - The shading of geometry can either be flat, bright and simplistic or glossy with depth, gradients, highlights, and shading.
  • Sharp edges vs. soft edges - Geometry can have sharp edges which are extremely well-defined around its perimeter (sometimes with thick black outlines around its edges). In contrast to this, they can also be soft and blurred around the edges, merging seamlessly into each other in a manner which does not affect its intricacy.
  • Large vs. small - Regarding its size, geometry can be extremely large and zoomed in or fine and zoomed out in a way that does not affect its level of intricacy.
  • Fast vs. slow - In terms of its speed, geometry can shift and morph so fast into itself that the amount of information presented to the tripper in extremely short periods of time becomes incomprehensible to process. In contrast to this, they can move slowly and comprehensibly, swirling and shifting into themselves to present ever-changing geometric forms that can be observed at a much higher level of detail.
  • Smooth vs. jittery - In terms of its motion, geometry can move smoothly with a high frame rate, or it can be jittery in its motion with lag and a low frame rate.
  • Round corners vs. angular corners - Geometry can either have mostly rounded and circular corners or mostly sharp corners with sharp and angular geometry.
  • Non-immersive vs. immersive - Geometry can be manifested in front of one's face on a in a manner which feels separate and as if it was being presented on some screen without a distinct sense of size or distance attributed to it. In contrast, geometry can feel as if one is completely immersed in and surrounded by it with a distinct sense of attributed size and distance.
  • Consistent vs. progressive - Geometry can be manifested as consistent and steady in its intensity, complexity and visibility regardless of disturbances within the external environment. In contrast, however, it can manifest as progressive in its intensity which means that disturbances and sensory input such as bright lights, loud noises and distractions within the external environment will prevent or cut off the intensity, complexity and visibility from building up to its limit whilst darkness will cause it to steadily rise in complexity.
  • Level 8A vs. level 8B - At its eighth and highest level of experience, geometry is capable of branching off into two different directions of equal intensity. The first of these is Level 8A – exposure to semantic concept network and the second of these is Level 8B – exposure to the internal mechanics of consciousness.

Hallucinatory states


Main article: Transformations
This animation serves as a replication for the common psychedelic visual effect known as transformations. It accurately demonstrates the smooth and fluid-like transitions of an object as it morphs between a variety of other forms.

Transformations can be described as the experience of a perceived visual metamorphosis of specific parts of one's external environment into other objects. For example, people who undergo this effect will often report seeing parts of their environment shifting into completely different things. These transformations have a huge variety of potential artistic styles and differing styles of detail, realism, and animation.

These hallucinations are progressive in nature, which means they form by arising from patterns or objects and then, over a period of seconds, by smoothly drifting the object through a fluid motion into an entirely new form. This is significantly enhanced and fueled by the separate visual effect of pattern recognition enhancement. It causes vague stimuli and specific objects to transform into incredibly detailed versions of what they were already perceived as looking similar to.

At lower levels, the process of transformation can require some minimal amount of focus and concentration to sustain. Losing concentration for an instant can cause the image to fade away or shift into another image. Holding the eyes still will increase the intensity of the progressive transformation. However, at higher levels this becomes completely unnecessary.

External hallucinations

External hallucinations can be described as the experience of perceiving imagined visual concepts and occurrences which display themselves seamlessly into the external environment as if they were actually happening. This is in stark contrast to internal hallucinations such as dreams that exclusively occur within an imagined environment which can typically only be viewed with closed eyes.

The experience of this effect can be broken down into 4 basic levels of intensity. These are described and documented below:

  1. Erratic hallucinations - The lowest level of external hallucination generally consists of movement within the peripheral vision and ill-defined, fleeting hallucinations which disappear once a person double takes.
  2. Vaguely defined hallucinations - At this level, the hallucinations are visible within one's direct line of sight, but are not fully defined in their appearance. This means that, although visible, they do not look completely detailed and are often extremely blurry or semi-translucent with little, if any, color.
  3. Partially defined hallucinations - At this level, the hallucinations become distinct enough in their detail and vividness to extend beyond transparent, colorless, or blurry manifestations. However, they still remain unconvincing and do not quite live up to the detail of completely realistic and convincing hallucinations.
  4. Fully defined hallucinations - At this level, the hallucinations have become completely realistic, and will rarely disappear simply because a person double takes. They are now capable of a completely convincing and photo-realistic appearance.

It is worth noting that there are certain factors that directly alter both the likelihood of external hallucinations manifesting themselves and the level of detail which they are rendered in. For example, the more unfamiliar with the external environment one is, the more likely it is that this effect will manifest itself. Cluttered areas also tend to produce more external hallucinations. As far as lighting goes, either a dark or dim room is optimum. Darkness seems to produce significantly more hallucinations, while the light present in a dim room will result in less (although more detailed) hallucinations.

Internal hallucinations

Parabolic Vehicle of Conception by Adam Scott Miller - This serves as an example of visionary art which attempts to accurately portray and replicate the experience of psychedelic level 5 geometry combined with level 3 internal hallucinations.

Internal hallucinations can be described as the visual perception of imagery and scenes that exclusively occur within an imagined environment which can typically only be similarly viewed with closed eyes to those found within dreams. This is in stark contrast to external hallucinations which display themselves seamlessly into the external environment as if they were happening.

At lower levels, internal hallucinations begin with imagery which does not take up the entirety of one's visual field and is distinctively separate from its background. These can be described as spontaneous moving or still images of scenes, concepts, places, and anything one could imagine. The imagery is manifested in varying levels of realism, ranging from ill-defined and cartoon-like in nature to completely realistic. They rarely hold their form for more than a few seconds before fading or shifting into another image. This level of intensity occurs in a highly similar manner to that of hypnagogia (the state between sleep and wakefulness).

At higher levels, internal hallucinations become increasingly elaborate as they eventually become all-encompassing, fully-fledged 3D scenes which similarly surround the person to that of dreams. This can create the feeling that one has "broken through" into another reality. The things which occur within this perceived alternate reality can be anything, but fall under common archetypes such as contact with autonomous entities alongside a wide variety of imagined landscapes, and scenarios.

The experience of this effect can be broken down into five distinct levels of intensity. These are described and documented below:

  1. Enhancement of mental visualization - At this level, internal hallucinations can be defined as a distinct enhancement of the heightened state of mental visualization that one drifts into when daydreaming or using their imagination. It can be described as a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings, during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by an ill-defined fantasy. The details of this internal visualization are somewhat spontaneous or autonomous in nature but are mostly controlled by the content of one's current thought stream.
  2. Partially defined imagery - At this level, internal hallucinations consist of partially defined, blurred, and faded imagery within one's vision field.
  3. Fully defined imagery - At this level, the vividness and intensity increases in a fashion which render the imagery seen within one's visual field as fully defined, realistic in its appearance and detailed in a lifelike manner.
  4. Partially defined immersion - At this level, the vividness, scope, and intensity of the hallucinations become all-encompassing in a way which begins to display momentary flashes of scenes which surround the person with an immersive environment in a similar fashion to that of a vague dream. Although all-encompassing, they are often blurred or transparent in appearance, and one's physical body still feels as if it is partially connected to the real world.
  5. Fully defined immersion - At this level, the immersive internal hallucinations further increase to become all encompassing in a manner which displays long lasting scenes which surround the person with an explorable and fully immersive environment which is similar to that of a dream. This occurs in a fashion which is entirely realistic, incredibly detailed, and highly vivid in its appearance. They can also occur alongside relevant auditory and tactile hallucinations, as well as the sensation of that one, has become completely disconnected from their physical body.

Transition styles

Internal hallucinations typically last anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes before the person slips back into reality or the presence of another hallucination. There are several different methods through which these hallucinations are transitioned between. These are described and documented below:

  • Zooming - Images can switch between each other via the experience of one's vision zooming into or out of the current image to such an extent that it reveals an entirely new hallucination.
  • Morphing - Images can switch between each other by transforming the details of their shape and structure to show an entirely new image. This can happen in a variety of different speeds and occur in the style of fluidlike motions.
  • Sliding - Images can switch between each other by sliding in a specific direction which then reveals an entirely new image behind them.
  • Fading - Images can change between each other by fading into nothingness before a completely new images fades back into view.
  • Splitting - Images can switch between each other via splitting into two or more sections which drift away from each other to reveal an entirely new hallucination behind it.
  • Tiling - Images can switch between each other by separating into geometric formations which then slide or fade away from each other to reveal an entirely new hallucination behind them.

Autonomous entities

Main article: Autonomous entities
Namaste (Trifoliata Mystica) by Luke Brown - This artwork serves as an accurate example of a generic geometry-based autonomous entity seen during a psychedelic experience.

Autonomous entities can be described as the visual experience of perceived contact with beings which appear to be sentient and autonomous in their behaviour. Autonomous entities typically appear during a hallucinogenic experiences, during sleep deprivation, during sleep paralysis, and during stimulant psychosis. They can manifest within both external and internal hallucinations.

Autonomous entities will frequently act as the inhabitants of a perceived independent reality. Although many entities seem largely unaware of one's presence, generally speaking, they are often expectant of the person's sudden appearance into their realm and usually choose to interact with them in various ways. The behavior of a typical entity can vary wildly and seems to depend heavily on one's current emotional state. For example, whilst many entities will act like loving, kind intelligences, teachers or healers, in certain contexts, they are equally capable of acting as indifferent, uncaring or even as malicious tormentors.

Entities can take any form but subconscious archetypes are present and commonly include:

Humans, friends, family, loved ones, strangers, oneself, shadow people, bodiless super intelligent humanoids, aliens, elves, fairies, animals, giant spheres, insectoids, beings of light, anthropomorphic beings, plants, conscious inanimate objects, fictional characters, cartoons, robotic machines, gods, demigods, goddesses, bio-mechanical intelligences, hooded figures, demons, indescribable monstrosities, spirits, angels, shamans, ghosts, souls, ancestors, fantastical or mythological beasts, glitch creatures and more.

Personality types

There are a few generally distinct personality types of autonomous entities which one may potentially encounter. They are often percieved to represent a particular subsection of one's own consciousness and can be identified primarily through their personality, but also sometimes their appearance. These individual types are broken down into three separate categories below.

  • Representations of general concepts - This personality type can be described as a hallucinated and seemingly sentient representation of any known concept. This will usually adopt an appropriate personality and set of mannerisms to fit the chosen concept to an impressive degree of accurate detail. For example, the specific concept could include people one has met throughout their life, specific fictional characters or symbolic representations of concepts such as abstract ideas, emotions or key parts of one's own personality.
    • Representations of the self - This personality type can be described as a mirror of one's own personality. It can take any visible form but when conversed with, it clearly adopts an identical vocabulary and set of mannerisms to one's own consciousness.
    • Representations of the subconscious - This personality type can be described as an entity which may take any visible form but is also subjectively perceived to be an autonomous controller behind the continuous generation of the details of one's current hallucinations. They may also be felt to simultaneously control or manage one's current perspective, personality and internally stored model of reality. When interacted with, this category of entity can often possess abilities which allow them to directly alter and manipulate one's current experiences. They commonly adopt an attitude which wants to teach or guide the person and will operate under the assumption that they know what is best for them. However, it cannot be known whether this hallucination is genuinely a representation of the subconscious or is perhaps merely an estimated hallucination which simply behaves in a convincing manner.

Communication styles

Autonomous entities can communicate with a person via a combination of normal spoken word, "telepathy", conceptual thoughts, mathematics and geometry-based visual linguistics which generally consist of morphing colored structures of different textures which are innately readable as representations of specific concepts.

Regarding the conversational topics which autonomous entities choose to discuss, they will often convey insights regarding overcoming personal issues within the one's life and will occasionally help clarify philosophical or spiritual ideas. However, more often than not entities are very likely to speak in cryptic or nonsensical messages which seem to have no clear or obvious meaning behind them.

It is important to note that autonomous entities will never truly convey new information to the person experiencing them. For example, they cannot provide insights about the external world which one did not already know about on some level. Instead, they can only provide alternative perspectives and help build upon pre-existing ideas. This is presumably because autonomous entities do not have access to any knowledge, information or facts which are not already stored within one's conscious or subconscious memories.

When communicated with through spoken word, the level of coherency in which these entities can communicate with is highly variable but can be broken down into four distinct levels. These are described and listed below:

  1. Silence - This level can be defined as a complete unresponsiveness from the side of the entity and a lack of speech despite their obvious presence within the hallucination.
  2. Partially defined incoherent speech - This level can be defined as linguistic conversational responses and noises which almost sound like words but do not contain any real content or meaning beyond a vague sense of emotional intent.
  3. Fully defined incoherent speech - This level can be defined as audible linguistic conversational responses and noises which contain fully defined and understandable words but often lack grammatical structure or an overall sense of general coherency.
  4. Partially defined coherent speech - This level can be defined as linguistic conversational responses which contain fully defined and understandable words with a partially defined grammatical structure and general coherency. It conveys its point on a level which is frequently coherent but may not always be fully understandable and will sometimes descend into broken English or even gibberish.
  5. Fully defined coherent speech - This level can be defined as linguistic conversational responses which contain understandable words and a fully defined grammatical sentence structures. It has an overall sense of general coherency which conveys its point in a level of detail that is genuinely on par with that of one's own intellect.

Image examples

Scenarios and plots

Main article: Scenarios and plots

Scenarios and plots can be described as the situations, stories, scenarios and events which occur within both external and internal hallucinations. These behave in an almost identical fashion to the plots and scenarios that occur during normal dream states and often include cognitive delusions that result in one accepting the plot as a real life event. On rare occasions, however, they will be immediately recognized as a mere hallucination and not a real life event.

During this effect, the typical components which comprise standard hallucinatory states (settings, sceneries, and landscapes and autonomous entities) begin behaving and co-operating in a manner which results in the experience of events occurring within the hallucination itself. These are often perceived as linear and coherent plots that occur in a logical sequence by leading into other events through normal cause and effect. However, they are equally likely to present themselves as completely nonsensical and incoherent. For example, they may consist of nonlinear or spontaneous events which are capable of ending, starting and changing between each other repeatedly in quick succession.

These hallucinated plots can consist of new experiences that are completely unlike the real world, old experiences such as accurate memory replays or a combination of the two. However, in terms of their precise content, this effect is impossible to define in a comprehensive manner in much the same way that one cannot predict the exact plot of unknown literature and films. They can, however, be summarized as basic occurrences which often entail visiting a setting that contains interactive objects and autonomous entities. It is also worth noting that the possible situations one may find themselves in as a result of this effect can be either positive or negative to experience in a manner which is dependent on both its content and the individual undergoing them.

Hallucinatory plots and scenarios usually feel as if they are being experienced in real-time. For example, when 20 seconds has passed within the hallucination, the same amount of time will usually have passed in the real world. At other points, however, time distortions occur, resulting in plots and scenarios that can feel as if they last days, weeks, months, years, eons or infinitely extended periods.

The experience of this effect is nearly universal under the influence of heavy dosages of almost any class of hallucinogen such as DMT, MXE and DPH.

Perspective alterations

Alterations in perspective can be described as a subjective effect component that can manifest within both external and internal hallucinations. It is the alteration of the perspective through which a hallucination is perceived. Perspective alterations are distinct from perspective distortions because distortions are more specific to how one perceives their relationship to the environment.

The experience of this effect can be broken down into four distinct perspectives. These are described and documented below:

  • 1st person - This is the most common form of perspective and can be described as the perfectly normal experience of perceiving a hallucination from one's everyday self and body.
  • 2nd person - This can be described as the experience of perceiving a hallucination from the perspective of an external source of consciousness such as another person, an animal or an inanimate object.
  • 3rd person - This is essentially an out-of-body experience and can be described as perceiving a hallucination from the perspective of floating above, below, behind, or in front of one's physical body.
  • 4th person - This the least common form of perspective and can be described as the experience of perceiving a hallucination from multiple or even seemingly infinite vantage points simultaneously.

Settings, sceneries, and landscapes

Settings, sceneries, and landscapes can be described as a subjective effect component that manifests within both external and internal hallucinations. They are the experience of the setting in which the plot of an external or internal hallucination occurs. These are capable of manifesting a seemingly infinite variety of potential places and settings.

When explored, the geography of these settings is capable of organizing itself as static and coherent. However, it will usually manifest as a non-linear, nonsensical and continuously ever-changing layout which does not obey the rules of everyday physics. Regarding the chosen locations, appearance and style of these settings, they seem to be selected at random and are often entirely new and previously unseen locations. They do, however, play a heavy emphasis on replicating and combining real life locations stored within the person's memories, especially those which are prominent in one's life and daily routine.

There are some common present archetypes within this component. These commonly include the visitation of:

Planetary systems, galaxies, quasars, jungles, rain forests, deserts, ice-scapes, cities, natural environments, caves, space habitats, vast structures, civilizations, technological utopias, ruins, machinescapes, historical settings, rooms and other indoor environments, incomprehensible geometric landscapes and more.

Shadow people

Main article: Shadow people
Untitled by Anonymous - An accurate representation of the experience of shadow people.

Shadow people are a very common visual hallucination for humans to have. They usually appear as a result of sleep deprivation, psychosis (especially stimulant psychosis[7]), delirium, psychoactive substances, or sleep paralysis. During this experience, the subject perceives a patch of shadow in their peripheral vision or focused visual field to be a living, autonomous figure. This figure can be either humanoid or animal-like in appearance. Due to the unique behavior of these hallucinations and can be considered a sub-type of autonomous entities.

The visual external hallucinations usually, but not always, begin to appear as initial fleeting images out of the corner of the eyes in the peripheral vision. As the duration of the experience (sleep deprivation, stimulant psychosis, diphenhydramine, etc.) progresses. However, shadow people may begin to appear in full view and one will be able to look directly at them. At advanced mental states, one is even able to look away from the entity and look back at the entity without a change in the hallucination. This progression is typically the same whether one is experiencing shadow people from sleep deprivation or from stimulant psychosis.

The bodies of the shadow people are usually perceived as a type of blackness that has a sense of depth with few facial or bodily features. The blackness of the body often seems almost opaque as if one is looking into a "black hole" in anthropomorphic form. They also may appear as animal forms, uniform blobs, disembodied body parts, or a myriad of indescribable shapes. They sometimes appear to have faces, eyes, or mouths and are able to move or change shape. The movement exhibited can be normal human movement or it can be faster, slower, or more choppy than a normal person's gait. It is also possible for multiple shadow people to occupy one's field of vision simultaneously while acting autonomously from one another and even interacting with one another.

This hallucinatory state is often accompanied by a feeling of intense paranoia and anxiety due to the fact that shadow people are subjectively sinister in appearance and usually a result of negative states such as stimulant psychosis and sleep paralysis. Shadow people appear often in sleep paralysis, often carrying with them a sense of impending doom during the experience[8]

Multisensory aspects

Although it is not an intrinsic part of this hallucinatory effect, shadow people can potentially be accompanied by other sensory components aside from one's visual perception of them. This is typically infrequent and usually only occurs during very intense states of sleep deprivation, delirium or psychosis. For example, shadow people can potentially have an accompanying "voice", despite the lack of a visible mouth structure. This auditory communication follows an identical leveling system of progressively more detailed and coherent spoken word in the same manner as a generic autonomous entity. Shadow people may converse with the person experiencing them or they may converse amongst each other - sometimes talking about the person going through the experience.

Alongside of accompanying auditory hallucinations, shadow people may also present tactile and gustatory hallucinations. This is even rarer than their potential auditory effects and typically only occurs in particularly intense and advanced hallucinatory states. Their tactile effects can be indistinguishable from a real human touch and generally varied in temperature.They can also even include physical actions such as pulling of clothing, hair, or the skin.

See also


  1. Seeing Jesus in toast: Neural and behavioral correlates of face pareidolia |
  2. Pareidolia in Infants |
  3. Why People See Faces When There Are None: Pareidolia (psychology today) |
  4. Sardegna, Jill; Shelly, Susan; Rutzen, Allan Richard; Scott M Steidl (2002). The Encyclopedia of Blindness and Vision Impairment. Infobase Publishing. p. 253. ISBN 978-0-8160-6623-0. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  7. Vila-Rodriguez, Fidel (September 2011). "Methamphetamine, Perceptual Disturbances, and the Peripheral Drift Illusion". American Journal on Addictions. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00161.x
  8. Shelley Adler (15 January 2011). Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection. Rutgers University Press. pp. 3–. ISBN 978-0-8135-5237-8.