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Create a 3D Optical Illusion Dragon For Free

Updated on October 26, 2016
One of our magic dragons
One of our magic dragons | Source

Create a Magic Dragon

Looking for a fun, easy craft activity for the kids? They can easily create this cute, paper dragon, and then be amazed as it appears to watch them as they move around the room.

All you need to do is download the free template here, print it out and put it together.

I recommend printing out an extra copy so you can easily follow the instructions even after you start to make your dragon. Once you start cutting, folding instructions are removed, so you need to watch what you're doing.

Cut out the dragon figure (smaller hands might need some help), then fold as directed. Mountain folds will have the folded bit pointing towards you. Valley folds will have the folded bit pointing away from you.

Tape or glue the tabs exactly as explained on the template, and your dragon is ready.

He will look a little odd, however, believe me, he's cool!

Hold him so you can clearly see both his eyes, then close or cover one of your own eyes. Gently move him around, and his head will appear to move on its own.

Have a look at the video at the top of this page to get the idea of what the illusion will look like.

How It Works

The optical illusion you have created is called the "hollow face" or "hollow mask" illusion. Your brain recognizes a face, and automatically assumes that it is convex (like a normal face), even if it is concave (or hollow). When you look with both eyes, your brain usually has enough clues to tell it that the face is hollow. However, when you close one eye, you no longer can perceive depth, and your brain is convinced that the face is convex.

Due to the shape, the figure appears to move its whole head as you move around it or move it around.

In a two dimensional video, like the one above, the effect is startling!

The completed dragon seen from different angles.
The completed dragon seen from different angles. | Source

Get Creative

Kids can decorate their dragons with glitter glue to make shiney scales. Changing the size of the print out will create different sized dragons.

For older kids, the basic template can be copied and modified to make all sorts of creatures, all which will appear to move their heads to watch them.

To do this, trace the outline of the original onto white paper. Then mark the original features, such as the eyes, mouth, nostrils, feet and so on, to make sure they are in the same place. Then fill in the rest of the template with your own drawing of an animal or bird. It can be anything you want!

More Optical Illusions

4M Illusion Science
4M Illusion Science

If your children are interested in learning more about illusions, I recommend this Illusion Science kit. It's great value for money, and includes an illusion tricks card, a spinning top with illusion cards, 3D picture cards, markers, 3D glasses and more. Perfect for kids aged 7 and over.


© 2014 Suzie Armstrong


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