Introduction: 10 Minute Mini 3D Projection

Picture of 10 Minute Mini 3D Projection

If you have ever been to a trade fair that was bigger than your backyard, you may have seen some magic 3D projections floating in space, wondering how on earth this might be possible and why it is so dark there.

I saw this in many variations, on the International Automobile Exhibition as a mapping on cars or on Gamescom in smaller boxes om game consoles. Theme parks use these in ghost trains. These smaller boxes are for example offered by I googled the magic behind these boxes and it was ridiculously easy.
So wonder no more, I will show you how to make a mini-3D-projection for less than a dollar (unless you have no smartphone, then it will be about 181 dollar) using exactly the same technique.
I know, this looks photoshopped, but trust me, it's not.

Step 1: How Does It Work?

Picture of How Does It Work?

Do you really want to know? Some things should remain magical. But as you may find out while crafting, anyway, I will tell you how this works:

This technique is called Magic Screen. The iPhone projects the image of 2 wheels, the yellow stripes, the driver and the light onto a 45° overhead transparency. You can’t see that because as the name says, it’s transparent. But you can guess where it is on the picture, it makes a tiny brightness difference when you look on the left side of the inner wall.
The transparency sheet mirrors it onto a virtual layer that is at the same height as the car. But only the light areas are mirrored, the dark areas aren’t reflected. So the illusion is created, that these magical object float in the air.

Nevermind the bumpy camera panning, it should just show that the layer is really in 3D space and works from every perspective.

Step 2: You Need:

Picture of You Need:
  • A smartphone or iPod touch or anything with a small, but not too small display and internet.
  • Overhead transparency sheet or anything that resembles it, like a transparent package from an SD-card.
  • Thick paper: about 160 g/m2, or just two normal sheets glued together.
  • A printer
  • Crafting stuff: scissors, glue, ...

Step 3: The Cave

Picture of The Cave
By the way, I made a video how I glue the whole thing together. So if you are not sure about anything, you can look it up there.

Before you can start, you have to print page 2 and 3 from the PDF.
Let’s begin with the cave. In general, before you glue anything together, you should scratch all folding lines with a cutter or your scissors. That guarantees nice folds. You can’t see that in the video because it is hell boring. I made it before I cut it out, and you should do so, too.
The cave consists of two parts, the background with the ceiling and the floor. It is folded inside out, meaning the printed background is on the inside. Glue one flap at a time and don’t attach the two front parts yet. You need to put the transparency through this space later.
I use little pins to help the glue dry on the right place.

Step 4: The Car

Picture of The Car

The car is an Opel Adam, by the way. It is cool and cute and had the right size.

It should be quite self-explaining. Dotted lines are valley folds, dashed lines are mountain folds. I used a round pen to roll the sides up a bit, giving it the right shape (It is a bit narrower on top, just like any other car).

Step 5: The Transparency

Picture of The Transparency

You can’t see that in the picture, but trust me, I am fixing a transparency sheet on the paper with tape. Two thirds of the the involved parts are invisible, making it kind of hard to show it on a photo.

The transparency should be a bit bigger than the shape, then cut along the black lines and you have a perfectly shaped transparent foil.

Step 6: The Marriage

Picture of The Marriage
Time to bring all three parts together. Already over 10 minutes? Well, that was more like a approximation.
  • Glue the car in the cave. The flap goes to the white area on the floor. Something flat, like a tweezer, helps to fix the flap under the car. If the car nearly touches the wall, it is on the right place. Let it dry a bit.
  • Glue the transparency on the flap. I outlined it pink, so you can see where it is. Put glue on the flap on top, not on the transparency. When you fold the flaps on front of the cave outwards, you can put it in easily. Let it dry.
  • Attach the 2 remaining flaps. Fold them back and glue them to their respective flaps. Again, I used pins to hold everything in place.

Step 7: The Magic

Picture of The Magic

On the instruction sheet, you can find a QR-code that links to the animated mini-film. Open it on your smartphone, then zoom and pan it in full screen mode to the right size and place.

Switch the lights off and place your device upside down on top of the papercraft  -- The projection is mapped right onto the car!


swiperfox (author)2017-03-20

Maybe if we ditch the car, and have the interior black (or probably white... I don't know which)... Maybe we can have a MINI-CINEMA.

RockeyDA (author)2016-03-21

so you have to buy a cell phone to do this? or dose any lcd work?

DarrenS36 (author)RockeyDA2016-04-04

I found it effective to hook it up to a potato.

SkyHive (author)2016-03-25

I CANNOT WAIT TO TRY THIS! Problem,I cannot find the template on the link above. Can anyone please help me?



instructablessy (author)2016-03-21

really cool and perfect work, Plus I like it.

RaymondR20 (author)2016-03-21

Cool. Makng that soon,

ĐạtB (author)2015-04-18


ĐạtB (author)2015-04-11


good !very good

TorinMiasma (author)2013-12-01

I made something similar for a little "tabletop companion" to keep me company when I was typing late at night. Very nice instructable. Thanks for posting!

ARJO007 (author)TorinMiasma2015-03-25

What is it called or what is the link for the tabletop companion? I would love to make one but I can't figure out how to find it.

TorinMiasma (author)ARJO0072015-03-26

It was something i made, no link or name i think. I 3d printed the paper enclosure that this shows as a small cave and projected a flash dragon i made to work with it. it randomly pops up tips in a little thought bubble and it moves around on the transparency sheet.

nojack (author)2014-07-23

this was short, simple, and fun to build!!!

цкүн (author)2013-10-22

How can I do it with Samsung phones (author)цкүн2013-10-23

It should be the same with Samsung phones, just open the link to the animated gif on the template and zoom and pan the image that it fits on the car.

pdchua2 (author)2013-10-22

This is amazing.
The background of the video has to be black? And how did you figure out exactly where to map the moving parts in the video, like where to situate them in the video frame? (author)pdchua22013-10-23

Thank you, this was quite simple math, it mirrors in the foil and therefore has to be same size, but vertically mirrored.

DragonDon (author)2013-10-16

Pretty cool. Any suggestions for scaling this up to larger sizes? (author)DragonDon2013-10-17

I think scaling up to a tablet or something should work, but you should probably use thicker material or stabilize it. It would be cool to make a 360-view for iPad, I am working on it. But it will take a while.

AmpOwl (author)2013-10-17

Could you use this concept to create a sort of Google Glass-style heads up display? (author)AmpOwl2013-10-17

Probably yes, but it would look kind of ridiculous, you would have to put the phone very high, or you wouldn't see it sharp.

spark master (author)2013-10-17

In the Dizzyland in florida about oh about 41 years ago my family ran into the Monsanto building in Dizzyland you got on a moving seat, they projected moving stuff all around you, it was better then the rest of dizzyland combined. This is reminiscent of the esperience. We moved at maybe 3 mph, the moving stuff was at 50-100 mph. Those light of heart svreamed their heads off. tewas a hoot, like this

Hexaquan (author)2013-10-16

Nice instructable

DIY hacker (author)2013-10-16

i vote from me nice work.

rdefranx (author)2013-10-16

Wowww. nice. I will try it. Thanks

afing (author)2013-10-16

Good job, Good video!

agis68 (author)2013-10-15

great craft, great instructable, voted

zenTaurus (author)2013-10-15

really lovely! thanks

Nirgal38 (author)2013-10-15

This is very similar to a process developed by Eugen Schüfftan back in the 1920s. It was used in the movie "Metropolis."

JoeStrout (author)2013-10-15

Great job! It is indeed a great application of Pepper's Ghost.

In addition to doing a great craft, you're written a great Instructable — you explained the secret right away (great for busy readers), provide all the digital materials (papercraft patterns and looping video) needed for quick success, and provided clear text, photos, and video. Thanks for taking the time to do it so well!

bmiller91 (author)2013-10-15

Could this be scaled up with say an old 15" LCD monitor? (author)bmiller912013-10-15

You would probably have to use harder materials, wood and plexiglass for example, but in general this should work.

jtharkness (author)2013-10-15

Very very nice, and great video too.

krackr (author)2013-10-15

Now..if everyone used their minds as productively in their own way, the world would be a better place.
Great work and application of mind.

zorwick (author)2013-10-15

I have seen LEGO or something similar toy advertised this way. I had some idea how to do it, but you have enlightened my mind! Thank you! :) Congratulation for this project!

prakis (author)2013-10-15

Its really magical.

rimar2000 (author)2013-10-15

Genial, congratulations!

alcurb (author)2013-10-15

Brilliant! What a cool papercraft project!
The possibilities are endless. Image creating a miniature scene where you are in it. You would just need a well-lit video of yourself over a black background.

Holocube (author)2013-10-15

Yes you found a very interesting lo-fi angle of incidence, original, good, the more “3D” the better :) 

barista (author)2013-10-15

Great job.
There's a great example of this at a local toy shop which has a LEGO Star Wars display and the animated 'lasers' and 'explosions' are over laid on the model using a 45º glass panel and hidden monitor in the top of the display case.

Holocube (author)2013-10-15

Hi Kamibox you are completely right , it becomes only more complicated if you want to show life size people and objects in a daylight environments :) 
Check or

Anyway congrats, well done it looks great ! (author)Holocube2013-10-15

Thank you! No doubt that a real Holocube is much more complicated, this papercraft is just a budget version of a 3d projection, the quality is probably nothing like a Holocube. This doesn’t work for anything beyond a 4-inch projection in a quite dark environment anyway, but is still really cool :)

spratjack70118 (author)2013-10-15

Awesome. Are there any others available? Where might they be found (ideally for iphone)?

Not yet, but maybe I will make more designs soon.

lilchumy (author)2013-10-14

Will this work with iPod 5? (author)lilchumy2013-10-14

For sure :)

TSJWang (author)2013-10-14

Whoa that was amazing.

lilchumy (author)2013-10-14

Coolest thing!

Dr.Mhmd Rmdan (author)2013-10-14

Smart .... Ilike this project

SHIFT! (author)2013-10-14

Cool! I've seen this variation of "Pepper's Ghost" before at trade shows, and absolutely love it.

Wouldn't mind trying out a similar technique for an animated Jack-O-Lantern coming up.

About This Instructable




More by KnotLa proyección 3D en 10 minutosSpongebob & Friends Papercraft – The Whole Collection
Add instructable to: