Introduction: LED Paper Cephalopod

About: I used to teach middle school science, but now I run my own online educational science website. I spend my days designing new projects for students and Makers to put together.

Cephalopods rule, everyone knows that. Now you can make your own paper cuttlefish with glowing LED eyes with Brown Dog Gadgetsconductive tape kit and template.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

To make the rad cephalopod you will need the following:


  • Scissors and/or X-acto knife
  • Tape or glue stick
  • Pencil for tracing


  • Thick craft paper. We used sage and blue, you may use whatever contrasting colors you like.
  • Our conductive tape kit. OR
    • Large paperclips
    • 1 or 2 CR2032 batteries
    • 2 Gumdrop (10mm) LED's. We used white, but yellow or red would look cool too.
    • Conductive copper tape

Step 2: Video Guide

In case you're in need of some video directions, watch this.

Step 3: Cutting and LEDs


First cut the templates from the third page of the our Cephalopod PDF, or print them directly onto your thick colored paper.

Next, trace the skinnier Cephalopod body onto the blue paper and cut it out. The round blob opposite the tentacles is the battery tab.


Next find your LEDs and fold the legs at 90 deg. to the LED head. Place these on your paper approximately where you want the Cephalopods eyes to sit behind the tentacles. Cut a tiny slit in the paper directly under the LEDs.

Notice that one leg of the LED is longer than the other. Stick the longer leg of the LED through the slit so that you have one leg on either side of the paper.

Step 4: Conductive Tape and Battery

Conductive Tape


On the front of your Cephalopod place a strip of conductive copper tape from the LEDs down the sides of the body towards the battery tab as shown. Do not extend tape onto the tab. It will work best if the two strips of tape are touching in the middle.

Bend the LED legs on the back so they are on top of the copper strip. Secure them with a 1/2 inch strip of copper tape. Make a tight copper sandwich around the LED leg to ensure a good connection.


Run a strip of conductive copper tape from the LED's, along each side of the body, and up and over the battery tab as shown. Use one continuous strip, this will ensure good electrical conductivity. If the tape breaks, gently remove it and start again. Do not extend the tape so far it touches the first strips on the front, as this will short out the circuit.

Bend the LED legs on the back so they are on top of the copper strip. Secure them with a 1/2 inch strip of copper tape. Make a tight copper sandwich around the LED leg to ensure a good connection.


Now you are ready to test your circuit! For white LED's we recommend using two CR2032's stacked on top of each other (same orientation), it will make them brighter. For yellow or red LEDs only one battery is necessary.

Place your CR2032 batteries just under the battery tab and fold the tab on top. Make sure the end of all 4 pieces of copper tape are touching the batteries. If your circuit is working both LEDs should light. If neither of them lights flip the batteries and try again.

Bend a paperclip into a triangle as shown and slide it around the batteries. This will hold it in place.

If only one LED lights, one of two things could be the problem

  1. The copper tape is not secure around the LED legs. Press around them and see if you can get the offending LED to light.
  2. One of your LEDs is backwards. Gently peel the tape off the LED legs and switch which one is inserted through the paper.

Step 5: Base and More Tentacles!


If you haven't already, cut out the wider/lower part of the body from sage construction paper.

Final Assembly

Using tape or the glue stick, attach the blue body with LED eyes onto the sage green lower part as shown. She's ready to swim!

Extra Credit: Shaping the Tentacles

If you like, pinch the tentacles to give them a 3D shape.

For more cool paper projects visit Brown Dog

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