50 Stunning Examples of the Droste Effect

The Droste effect is a Dutch term for a specific type of recursive picture.

An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of the image within itself in a recursive manner.

In theory, the picture in picture effect continues deeper into the picture ad infinitum, but it really only goes as far as the image resolution will allow while still being visible, but it still has the feeling of being never ending.

The advent of the digital age has taken the old Droste effect to a whole new level.

In this compilation, you’ll find over 50 stunning examples of the Droste effect.

The effect is named after a particular image that appeared in various forms on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands.

It displays a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box of Droste cocoa depicting the same image (shown on the right).

The brand’s effect, maintained for decades, became a household notion. Reportedly, poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker introduced wider usage of the term in the late 1970’s

In the 1950’s, one of the famous graphic artisits Maurits Cornelis Escher.C. Escher took the Droste effect to another level with his incredible drawings, and mapped images to a spiral.

In the series of images below you can see how Escher starts the image with a man looking at a photo and as you look further, this image will take you deeper into a never ending loop of the same image.

Another Classic on Droste effect was the CD cover for the Pink Floyd album “Ummaguna” released in 1969.

Today the creations of the Droste effect are mostly done using digital images and there are some helpful solutions to make it easy to create your own piece. Are are some amazging examples and videos:

Further Resources and Tutorials:

Compiled exclusively for WDD by Paulo Canabarro.

Which ones are your favorite examples? Please share others that we may have missed in the comments area.

  • http://www.chickflickreviews.net jake

    That literally gave me a headache after looking at those one after another… But even so, good collection.

  • http://www.joebarstow.com Joe Barstow

    ahh, well no headaches here.
    A twisted perspective is just what I needed.
    Droste effect – a good design concept to Practice

    Thank you!

  • Marc

    Like the telescopes!

  • http://www.stanleyparrish.com Stanley Parrish

    I can’t figure out how this is done……This is so irritating…In a good way

  • Arlo

    Love the Wilde Beasts video, even though it makes my brain hurt (the video, not the music..)

  • RoaldA

    OMFG what a mindf**k! Nice post! :P

  • http://www.brushthis.com Liora

    I feel like Alice in Wonderland, with all these repetitive and deceptive images looking very real indeed.

  • http://tweeaks.com/2009/09/what-can-you-learn-from-your-own-designs/ Jared

    This is an amazing and unique post. It has inspired me with ideas and creativity.
    The images are all amazing too, and I love things that use this effect.

    One day when I was bored at work, and wanted to make some kind of graphic but couldn’t think of anything to make, I decided to just make what I was looking at which was my computer monitor with what I was making in Photoshop on the screen, which was my monitor, and I put it inside itself over and over.
    Here it is,

    I was very please with how it turned out, since I had no idea what to make when I started.

  • http://rupensharma.blogspot.com Rupen Sharma

    It’s like I’ve entered a blackhole. I get sucked in, even though I’m trying to get out…lol

  • http://10steps.sg Johnson Koh

    I feel abit dizzy looking at them haha :D It’s another great post from WDD!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kombizz/sets/ kombizz

    What a beautiful effect. I would love to learn more about it.

  • http://noa.null.co.il Noa Liberator

    A great post – gave me a headache though :)

  • http://www.aledesign.it aledesign.it

    Amazing, fantastic, incredible!

  • http://www.w2point.com Web 2.0

    Crazy effect, awesome :)

  • http://www.ourtuts.com/ Madalin

    I like the guy who looks into his chest :))

  • Joana


    dunno if my example is a good example…but i played a lil with a photo of me

    here u have it:


    peace from portugal

    • http://tweeaks.com/2009/09/recursive-image-illusions-are-what-now/ Jared

      I think that’s a great example. I really like it :)

  • http://www.dzinepress.com Dzinepress

    really amazing photos.

  • https://twitter.com/Lukelux Luke Lux

    It’s a great post, so inspirational.
    Thanks to share it!

  • http://www.jamesaspden.co.uk Jazzy

    I feel sea sick

  • http://www.wevegotideas.com jhoysi

    I love the use of hands the best for some reason. Beautiful collection!

  • http://wombatdiet.net Eats Wombats

    Nice photos. Too bad about the memejack.

  • ReTox

    it’s Ummagumma (Pink Floyd album)


  • http://php-programming-tutorial.com Jonathan

    Wow, some of these photos give my eyes and head a real trip! Cool effect.

  • http://www.empfehlenswert-wien.at wien

    strange effects

  • http://www.holadesign.blogspot.com monica from hola!design


  • Zatoichi

    Nice article! A friend had a photo portrait of the barman in their family’s favorite Paris cafe, holding the previous photo they’d taken of him. With layers of images going back 15 or 20 years.

  • nate
  • http://www.leomaxonline.com Max

    I literally had a kick after watching this 

  • http://www.netvibes.com/pharmacy-store Online Pharmacy Store

    absolutely amazing

  • http://www.bioinfiz.com bs kishore

    On the whole a good one,eventhough some aren’t creative enough.

  • http://bigmanta.com BigManta

    I had never known what this was called. Although it’s interesting, it’s kind of nauseating… especially when you scroll through 50 of these :-)

  • http://tvfunnyman.deviantart.com TVFunnyman

    Ronald McDonald on a box of McDonaldland Cookies holding a box of McDonaldland Cookies with Ronald McDonald on it holding a box of McDonaldland Cookies on and on forever…


  • http://www.logolitic.com logolitic

    This is absolutely great, and the quality of this effects: very clever and understanding, no comment! No pixel mistakes! Great post thank you!

  • http://www.r4cards.co.uk r4 revolution for ds

    All the photography are superb.. Effect are looking so attractive and I am really impressed with it…. Thanks for share with us…

  • http://www.hpsoftsolution.com sarjit

    I alws looking for these type of images… good stuff keep it contiunue.

  • aron

    These reminded me of fractals, which use repetitive images as well.

  • Jaime