Introduction: LittleBits Projects: Halloween Creepy Portrait

About: littleBits makes an open-source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun. littleBits consists of tiny circuit-boards with specific functions enginee…

With just a few snaps you can use littleBits to turn an existing portrait or picture into the perfect haunted house accessory!

You'll be able to creep out house guests and family members by making a set of eyes in a portrait blink as they walk by. Recreate portraits from Harry Potter, scenes from Scooby Doo, or something of your very own.

Make this project with our Creepy Portrait Pack!

Bits You Will Need:

Battery + Cable x 1

Power x 1

Motion Trigger x 1

Wire x 1

Servo x 1

Shoes x 1

Other Materials Used:

1/2" balsa or basswood square dowel

11/4" basswood strip

Creepy portrait printout


Glue [Elmers or wood glue]


Photo frame [should be ~ 2" deep]

Small Screws for securing servo


Files You Will Need:

Creepy Eyes

Creepy Portrait

Foamcore Cutout Template

Visit the littleBits project page for more DIY project ideas.

Step 1: Assemble the Circuit:

Assemble the circuit: power + wire + motion trigger + servo.

Make sure the servo is set to “turn” mode.

Test the circuit. You will need to be very still so as to not activate the motion trigger. Then, when you move, the servo should turn.

Step 2: Prepare a Portrait to Hack

Next you will need a frame and portrait to hack.

We suggest you use a frame that is deep enough to embed the servo (~1.5”). We used an 11” x 14” x 1.5” wood frame from Blick.

You can use a portrait from your house or you can print out version we used. If you are not using our version, you will also need to make two sets of eyes to will sit behind the portrait (one normal set and one scary set). The two sets of eyes should be spaced ⅞” from center to center.

Step 3: Cut Out the Eyes

Carefully cut the eyes out from the main portrait. Then tape the photo (image facing out) to the inside of the frame.

Step 4: Mount the Circuit

Use the back panel of the frame as a mount for the circuit and the eye mechanism. With our frame, we are able to secure the back panel in the frame so that there is about an inch of space between the portrait and the panel.

Step 5: Cut a Hole for the Motion Trigger

Mount the circuit on the back panel using adhesive shoes. Position the motion trigger in a strategic place corresponding to the photo. We chose a spot in the tie that had lots of texture. Then cut a very small hole in the portrait so the motion trigger can see through it. Test the circuit with the portrait over it and make sure the motion trigger sees your movement.

Step 6:

While everything is lined up, with a pencil, mark where the normal set of eyes should eventually sit on the back panel through the eye cutouts.

Step 7: Mount the Eyes

Cut the eyes file to be 3.5” wide by ~2” tall.

Mount the image onto a piece of ¼” foamcore cut to 3.5” wide by ~4” tall. Tape or glue the eyes to the foamcore. They should be positioned at the bottom.

Step 8: Place the Foamcore Eyes

Place the foamcore eyes directly over the markings you just made on the back panel. Trace the foamcore rectangle and make sure the lines extend a few inches beyond in each direction.

Step 9: Add Foamcore Layers

Cut three layers of ¼” foamcore to sit underneath the eyes so that they sit closer to the portrait and at a similar height to the servo arm. The dimensions of our layers are 4.5” wide x 5” tall. Glue the three layers together.

Step 10: Create the Eye Panel

Using a hobby saw, cut two 5” pieces from a ½” dowel.

Glue the two dowels along the edges on top of foamcore platform you just created. Place the eyes in the center and make sure they move up and down smoothly. Then glue the whole platform to the back panel, making sure to keep the eyes lined up with where they correspond with the portrait.

Step 11: Create the Servo Mechanism for the Eyes

Create the servo mechanism for the eyes. Bend a paperclip so that it goes through the servo arm (and still rotates easily). Next, poke a hole in through the foamcore (the part with the eyes) using the paperclip and secure it by bending it down. Make sure no sharp parts are sticking up.

Step 12: Test Out the Mechanism

When the motion trigger in activated, the eyes should move from the normal set to the scary set. Position the servo arm at the base of the foamcore platform and test out to make sure that the eyes line up with the portrait in both positions. Once you are happy with the placement, trace the base of the servo.

Step 13: Mount the Servo

Cut out where you just traced with an X-acto knife (you may want to make the cutout slightly bigger than the tracing).

Then cut two pieces of ¼” thick basswood to mount the servo to. Flank the sides of the hole you just cut with the two pieces of basswood. Secure them with small screws from the backside of the panel. Place the bottom of the servo through the hole and sercure it down to the two wood pieces with small screws.

Step 14: Complete the Eye Mechanism

Last step is to add a foamcore cutout over part of the eye mechanism to hold it in place when it sits in a vertical position. See the template file for dimensions. Then tape the foamcore cutout between the wood dowels that flank the eyes.

Step 15: Hang Up Your Portrait

Power up, secure the back panel to the frame, and hang on the wall. When somebody walks by, the eyes will go from normal to very very evil. Spook your friends!!!