You've probably seen the optical illusion two faces looking at each other or a vase, known as the Rubin's vase. But have you ever reached for a glass of water, only to find it was a flat drawing?

Russian-born, German-based artist Stefan Pabst defies the imagination by drawing unbelievably realistic drawings. His acute sense of perception is unlike that of even the best photorealistic artists.
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According to his profile on artist.com, Pabst uses an oil dry-brush technique on special paper to create his drawings that "jump off of the page at you."

Russian artist Igor Kazarin, who uses an oil dry-brush technique to create realistic portraits, explains the method of painting is a fairly new innovation, developed by Soviet artists in the mid-20th century who painted portraits of political figures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev.

"In the days of Leonid Brezhnev there were court painters — so called 'retouchers' — whose jobs were to touch up someone's image: their imperfections, clothes / uniforms," explains Kazarin.

The oil dry-brush technique has the added advantage of facilitating speed drawing, and is therefore used by many street artists, according to Kazarin. The artist offers step-by-step instructions and several videos to teach the technique to anyone who wishes to learn.

Pabst also began his artist career drawing portraits, according to artist.com.

He, however, was only 5 years old when he began impressing classmates with his innate talent. Once becoming a full-time artist, Pabst received commissions from companies, singers, actors, football players and politicians. He now has the great joy of spending day in, day out in his studio doing what he loves most.

"There was broad encouragement for my art and a guest asked me why I have not made my hobby my profession," Pabst told the Daily Mail.

According to an interview with the Daily Mail, Pabst moved from portraits to three-dimensional paintings when he started to feel bored by his traditional art classes. Pabst explains it was a drawing he did of a pair of human lips that inspired him to challenge himself to make increasingly realistic work.

A video uploaded to YouTube by the art blog Booooooom.com shows Pabst's process of painting. He begins by sketching the outline of the object and then uses the oil dry-brush technique to fill in the object with expert shading. For added depth, Pabst cuts the edge of the paper so the object appears to stand on top of the paper.

Pabst typically spends three hours on a single drawing, according to the Daily Mail.

The video shows a little girl trying to step on a giant spider, only to find the hairy tarantula is an inanimate drawing. Another wild drawing is that of a moon which appears to be suspended in air, hanging above the paper. Turn the paper upside down, however and the drawing becomes highly distorted.

Comments on YouTube show the power Pabst has in causing disbelief among his viewers. "First glance I thought it was a good, rubber likeness of a snake and he would paint it as a coral snake," writes Corinne M. "I was blown away by this."

Pabst regularly uploads videos to his own YouTube channel, PortraitPainter Pabst, including tutorials on how to draw realistic eyes and how to draw a perfect circle freehand. His paintings are available on his website, and those interested in commissioning a portrait or other original artwork can do so at a reasonable price, depending on painting size.


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Watch Pabst's fascinating 3-D artwork in the making.