DIY Optical Illusion




This is a fun and kind of hard and kind of easy optical illusion. My art teacher had my class and I make this when she saw it at the Lincoln-Way East art fair. I thought it was really cool and decided to make it an instructable. Always remember to draw the lines LIGHTLY.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Gather the materials:

1. Meter Stick

2. A thin and ultra thin sharpie

3. Colored Pencils

4. A piece of paper

5. A pencil

6. 4 objects that are round (a 5th one is optional)

Step 2: Line Up and Draw

Draw two lines connecting the four corners so that they make an "X".

Step 3: The Rectangle

Draw a rectangle in the middle as shown.

Step 4: Focal Point

Draw a circle in the middle of the rectangle where the "X" meets in the middle. This will be known as the focal point.

Step 5: Lines

Draw lines going across the top just in the top quadrant. Do not draw to many or else you will just make more work for yourself later and don't draw too little or you will not get the full effect in the end.

Step 6: Lines 2

Draw three more lines connected to the top ones to make squares around the paper as shown.

Step 7: Lines 3

Draw lines from the outside to the inside just up until the smallest rectangle also connected to the focal point but don't draw them to the focal point, just draw them so it looks like they would go to the focal point as shown.

Step 8: Bye Bye Focal Point

Erase the focal point and connect the erased lines back together.

Step 9: 1st Circle

Take one of your circle objects and trace it anywhere but the middle of the paper on the paper.

Step 10: 2nd Circle

Take your next circle object and do the same thing.

Step 11: 3rd Circle

Take your next circle object and do likewise.

Step 12: 4th Circle

Take your next circle object and it again.

Step 13: Optional Circle

If you chose to do a 5th circle, do the same thing one last time.

Step 14: Erase 1

Erase all lines inside the circles.

Step 15: Lines 4

Draw horizontal and vertical lines through the circle, curving as though they were curving along the surface of a sphere. The two most middle lines should meet at the edge of the circle. You can use points as a guide line.

Step 16: Sharpie 1

Sharpie all lines inside the circles using the ultra thin sharpie.

Step 17: Shading

Now, you must shade the circles using four (or five) different colored colored pencils. Start dark on the outside, and go lighter on the inside.

Step 18: Erase 2

Erase the lines inside the smallest (middle) square.

Step 19: Sharpie 2

Sharpie all other lines using the ultra thin sharpie.

Step 20: Sharpie 3

Sharpie every other square inside the circles as shown with the thin (not ultra thin) sharpie.

Step 21: Sharpie 4

Using the thin sharpie, color every other square in the background as shown. You're done!

Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Participated in the
Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Be the First to Share


    • Art Skills Challenge

      Art Skills Challenge
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    23 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If you look at the sides, the rectangles seem to visually get longer as they get further away, which is an optical illusion on its own, given that each rectangle is the same actual width in step 5.

    However, you might want to make each rectangle look like it is disappearing into the distance. To do this, in step 5 you have to make each gap get smaller the further away, but to make it look real you need to do it in a regular way.

    Fortunately, it's relatively easy to get the spacing right using a grid method. The pictures here illustrate the stages:

    Stage 1 is the undivided full side rectangle. Divide each of the vertical sides equally into the number of rectangles you will be producing and then draw the connecting lines across as shown in stage 2. I've drawn it with 4 but it can be done with any number.

    Now lightly draw a diagonal across, as shown in stage 3. This is just to determine where the crossing points are and needs to be faint as it will be erased later. You don't even need to draw the line all the way across, just mark the points where a ruler crosses the lines. These crossing points, shown with arrows, give you where to put the vertical lines.

    Stage 4 shows the vertical lines added with stage 5 showing the final result with the diagonal erased. Note how the rectangles get narrower as they get further away but visually look right.

    Once you've done this for one side, you don't need to repeat the method for the other sides, you can just carry the lines around to make up the other sides.

    I hope this is understandable. Note that it gives a grid which is the same number across as down. A grid which has different numbers down than across is is slightly more difficult, but see how you get on with this one first and contact me if you want more info.

    Stage 1.pngStage 2.pngStage 3.pngStage 4.pngStage 5.png

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Wobbler,

    I read this and it sounds pretty cool. I'll try it. It doesn't sound hard so it should be pretty easy. Thanks again!!!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It's not difficult and you can also use
    it for other perspective pictures e.g. if you are doing street lights
    down a road, just create the first street light and then make an outer
    box like your wall to where you want the lights to go to and then the uprights and crossing points become the
    street lights going into the distance. Same really for anything like
    this, such as fence posts, houses, parked cars, trees.

    You can see how it's used with the picture below.

    Stage 5 Lamps.png

    4 years ago

    Did this it turned out great and is now hanging on my wall thanks!!


    4 years ago

    I like it. I use to use a similar technique when I was in school. only my whole picture was free hand and squares. I would leave one line out to make it look like it turned. Almost like looking down a mine.

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Looks amazing yet is such a simple process! Thanks for sharing. :3

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    This is sorta creepy. It works very well but what creeps me out is that this is what we made in art class at school....... ?....... It's a lot better than mine was for sure.

    1 reply