When it comes to puzzles and optical illusions, netizens are instantly hooked trying to unravel its mystery. However, it wasn’t an optical illusion that has everyone online baffled lately, but rather a stunning painting that was too hard to believe wasn’t a photograph.

Chennai-based artist and photographer Varuna Shreethar has taken social media by storm by sharing a painting of the humble drip coffee. The photo showed very hot coffee served in a small steel cup, inside the dabarah saucer in which it can be chilled, a signature utensil for serving the drink.

It all looked very real, much like a photograph taken with a good camera until you zoomed in to get a closer look at the vernacular newspaper near the cafe. Even the coffee beans scattered on the wooden table looked like the real ones and didn’t look like they had been painted.

While many remained in disbelief, with some wondering why a simple photo of drip coffee drew so much attention, the young artist shared a time-lapse video to show how she pulled off the remarkable painting.

The 21-year-old artist told indianexpress.com which she has been painting since childhood. “I think I started drawing when I was two and had my first exhibition when I was four,” the self-taught artist said.

Although she had more than a dozen exposures, going viral online seemed like a new experience. “When I did the filter coffee painting, I had no idea it would go viral.”

Talking about the intricate details that mesmerized netizens, she explained, “I wanted to incorporate hyperrealism to impressionism in my art, which is why I left the texture so raw in the paintings.”

As many mistook her painting for a photograph at first glance, Varuna said that was exactly what she was aiming for. “You can see the first lines on it but at the same time it would look like a photograph. It was intentional but in no way was I trying to mislead people online,” she added referring to some hateful comments she received.

“My intention is not to reproduce a photograph. That’s what cameras are for, I wanted to create a painting that looks like something you love so much,” she added.

With over 48,000 likes on Twitter and thousands of comments, the tweet showing off the digital painting created huge buzz online. Many have praised the artist for his boundless talent and skill.

“If you look long enough, you’ll see foam bubbles burst. That’s how amazing and realistic it is,” one user commented. “Amazing!! I almost ended up asking you: which camera and which filter? writes another.

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