Droste Effect

Exercise: No. 3
Duration: 1 Day
Due: By end of class


For this exercise each of you will be modifying an image of your choosing by way of the Droste Effect.

The Droste Effect is the effect of a picture appearing within itself, in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear.

The appearance is recursive, meaning the smaller version contains an even smaller version of the picture, and so on...

Only in theory could this go on forever. Practically, however, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture's size.



Look for an image that already has a logical place for image insertion.

Make sure there is ample room for the effect to place.

Photos of buildings with windows work well and so do people holding up flat objects.

Be mindful of aspect ratio similarities when working with rectangular imagery.


  • At least five levels of recursive depth

  • Non-destructive image-editing (masks and smart objects)

  • Clean selections with no jagged edges

  • Imagery must come from a royalty-free source


  • Thoughtful and appropriate image selection

  • Prioritization of essential criteria

  • Non-destructive image-editing techniques

  • Work in broad-strokes toward a tight deadline

  • Engagement with a timeless image-making device


Submit native file (.psd) to Class Folders

Submit web-ready jpg Class Blog

  • File / Save for Web & Devices…

  • JPG / Very High

  • 900px width (or similar)

  • 72dpi


  • Droste effect on Wikipedia

  • 50 Stunning Examples of the Droste Effect

  • Josh Sommers on Flickr

  • Droste Effect on Know Your Meme