Dragon Illusion

This is really a wonderful Illusion, originally invented by some English guy I think. This little dragon is made out of paper – simply print it, cut it out, stick it together, and stand it on a table or shelf. When you move around, the dragon’s head seems to follow you around the room (if you stare at it’s eyes). Have a look at the video below to see what I mean. The effect is frightening! You can print the dragon yourself by following thumbnails below (be shure to fold dragon’s head to outside, and not the presumed inside fold!) This is awesome!

How does it work? If we move around when viewing a solid object, our brain knows how the object we are looking at should behave. However the dragon gives us the wrong clues, because we mis-interpret what its shape is. We assume that the nose of the dragon is pointing out towards us, but in fact the dragon’s head is concave. Below is the dragon illusion blueprint, click on the image to view it full size, save it and cut it as the instructions say!

162 Replies to “Dragon Illusion”

  1. I made this one a while ago when someone blogged about it.
    I absolutely love it and have it at my computer now.

    Are there any others like it? That you can make – I’m still surfing your site now..

  2. Woah, it’s breathtaking! We’ve setted it in a way that entering in the bedroom with the left eye closed and going straight until the dragon is no more visible, you can see the head turning and following and the trick is not visible from any point of the room (unless you open the other eye of course ;)

    Really amazing, thank you for this blog and all the other illusions you’ve found, this one deserves a big oh but the others cool too, and some of them are astonishing and really unexpected!

  3. This illusion works with most (painted) sculpture or even images that shows someone staring right at the camera.

  4. This illusion was actually “invented” by Jerry Andrus. He has spent a lifetime creating amazing optical effects.

  5. I think user ‘tray’ up there missed the point of this illusion. For a demo look at the video linked in the introduction above.





  7. I saw that on grand illusions a couple weeks ago, printed it out, followed the cutting and folding instructions, and it didn’t work…:( He’s on my computer desk right now, rather smashed, but he really didn’t work. Gr.

  8. I saw the video, printed it out, built it, and now I am fascinated.

    At first, i’ve built it in a wrong way…
    but after i’ve watched the video over and over, i saw my fault.

    The secret: the white side of the paper must be outside.
    when you look at it from downside, you have to see the dragon’s face.

    When you built it right, you have to close one eye, and move your head.


    after a few minutes, i feel griddy..

    (sry, for my english, but i am from germany ;) )

  9. How do people find this stuff out? Was the dude
    smoking pot and folding origami while suddenly
    he saw a really cool effect? WTF?

  10. spelt,
    past-tense of spell.
    i believe americans have a SPELLINGbee?
    i dont blame u tho,
    ur excuse is that u r american. and why do we critisize spellin anyway?
    ever heard of slang? critisizin is a waste of time.
    srry, had 2 let b known

  11. I wonder if youcould make this into a wallpaper, or screen saver. If you first took the 2D image and made a sterogram GIF file like the Shiva stereogram, then the image would follow you around from your computer screen. Or, would the 2D image be missing something?

  12. If the illusion does not work for you, insure that you constructed it with the dragon’s head inverted. That is, while the body sides fold back and is convex, the head folds forward and is glued concave. This will help you see the illusion.

  13. I agree with Steven. IT IS THE COOLEST ILLUSION EVER! too bad you have to say with one eye closed. I think I know why. You get 1 perspective from each eye, so you’re looking at it at two slightly different angles; say one person is standing behind the figure, one person is standing in front. The person standing in front’s brain thinks that the dragon is staring right at him, but the person standing behind the figure can tell that it’s a hollow face. in real life, it’s the same thing, only far less space between the two perspectives. GET IT?!

  14. Fascinating, repulsive, and unsettling all at the same time. Perhaps I say repulsive because of the unsettling factor. Either way, as soon as I get a color printer, I’ll have myself a blue dragon who watches my every move. Simply splendid.

  15. This is the most amazing illusion that i have ever experieced!!!!!!!!!! :):):):):):):) :P:P:P ITS BLOODY AWESOME!! IT IS AMAZING S**T

    1. Of course, most of us can see it with 2 eyes open, but 1 eye works better. I don’t think it’s a “gift”.(Although I know you’re just joking.)

  16. i really like this dragon. I did print it and cut/fold/glued it…. it looks awsoooome! At first my roommates thought “wtf!” but soon they saw the illusion… :D

    even made one as a present to someone :D

    *thumbs up*

  17. I have a few questions….Mine doesn’t work.

    Do you have to watch it with one eye closed?

    Does it have to printed with a colour printed (I mean, does colour effect the illusion)?

    ” RaveKev said…
    At first, i’ve built it in a wrong way…
    but after i’ve watched the video over and over, i saw my fault.”
    What was that fault you noticed? I may have made the same mistake.

    ” Dragon Master said…

    If the illusion does not work for you, insure that you constructed it with the dragon’s head inverted. That is, while the body sides fold back and is convex, the head folds forward and is glued concave. This will help you see the illusion.”
    If i knew wat he was saying, I would have done it. please simplify that paragraph for a simple mind.

    If you have the answer just refer to me as “michael” so that I know your talking to me

  18. This is seriously a great Illusion. I would suggest trying it out to anyone who has read this far. It will amaze your co-workers

  19. Yeah , this is the coolest!! I made one and gave it to a friend. So i made another. :-D

    Looks like he gona bite ya or something.
    when standing far away from it, i can see the illusion with both eyes. but up close i close one eye to see it.
    I got one watchin me now on top o my screen!

  20. People are getting excited over nothing…

    Disney’s Haunted Mansion rides have had this same effect for ages. (Anyone been there and seen the busts whilst lining up in the queue?)

  21. alright micheal(Anonymous)(or whoever else is reading this), to look at it,imagine that the head is not inward but outward.here are some tips:

    *make sure you are seeing all parts of the dragon (ears, eyes, both jaws,nose, the white part with the words, and the gathering for gardener side.)YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE THE TAIL SIDE

    *you may have to close one eye to see it up close and you can usually see it with both eyes from at least 10 feet away(2.5 meters, although im not sure)

    *also you might have to get rid of some overlapping shadows by tilting the dragon up, down, left or right with coins, paper, pencils, etc.

    *oh and while looking at the illusion the way youre supposed to dont think of the head being inward

    *if you do think of the head being inward(this one i thought was pretty cool) it will take your brain a half second to realize that and you’ll see the head in ward

  22. hahahahaha this was sooo awesome!
    I showed it to my younger cousin she got so freaked she started crying

  23. That is amazing – I can’t believe it’s not more recognized, no-one seems to have heard of this!

  24. M 2 the H O: If criticizing is a waste of time, didn’t you just waste time in criticizing Americans? :P

    Damn Kid: They’re right though… “spelt” is actually an old-english verb. Not slang though. It’s not the only word that has multiple spellings either:

    color -or- colour
    theater -or- theatre
    shop -or- shoppe

    You’ll see this in a lot of business or product names to avoid copyright violations of similar products with similar names. :)

    Oh yeah… great illusion by the way! Very much like the concave portraits that appear to always be looking at you.

  25. Spelt IS a real word! It’s a grain, that when ground to flour consistency, makes wonderful “wheat free” bread. Find it in health food stores.

  26. I have seen a much larger dragon exactly like this at the Franklin Institute. It is a very cool illusion, and thanks for the picture so I can print it out. Right now I have one keeping watch right on top of my computer. AWESOME ILLUSION!!!

  27. Wow! thats so strange! i feel freaked out just thinking about it! thats so cool! Dragon, Dragon, Dragon, then you move and it goes ‘Swoosh!’and next thing you know its staring at you like its alive!… thats so hmmm… i don’t know how to describe it!!!

  28. mine doesn’t work, but i’m not very good at stuff like this so its probably my fault! its a very cute model anyway :)

  29. The illusion was created by Jerry Andrus for the 3rd “Gathering for Gardner”.

    It helps to illuminate the dragon’s head from below.

  30. the important thing to remember when you construct it, in the instructions, the “shaded” side is the blank side of the Paper cut out.

  31. You just screwed up my mind, no I’m able to watch it with both eyes open :S Not sure what I do to my eyes to make it work but I think I might be unfocusing them like you do on stereograms..

  32. I got a dragon to my high school and my classmates think that it’s cool. and my teachers! everyone that have seen the little dragon think the same. and me too. and the same about all these illusions. that’s an awesome website! (i’m an spanish fan and I’m sorry about possible mistakes, my english isn’t so good)

  33. This is awesome. It seems so real. In my opinion the illusion does work with almost anything like photos or statues as long as the eyes are looking straight. But this illusion is cooler because it seems 3D.

  34. Ummmm…its sad when an honor student with a 4.6 GPA can't complete this task…I CAN'T DO IT! and its frustrating me…grrrr >:[
    how do u do this??? I followed all the directions, its head is concave, it forms a pyramid…! *ahhhh* what did i do wrong?!

    1. I think a better question is, how does one get a “4.6” GPA when the scale only goes to 4.0?

  35. Okay, honor student here to redeem herself! I was sitting there looking at my piece-o-crap dragon when i closed an eye! and it wiggled its little head! then i moved it and closed my eye other eye…but then eveything went black, so i opened one of my eyes again…lol.
    Thennnn, I was smiling at it like an idiot, and moving my head side to side. Suddenly the dragons head spun in circles and it said my name in a raspy voice. I opened both my eyes and realized it was a tiny bit after midnight. Wide-eyed and staring at it, I thought I was just tired, but then one of my cups fell from the counter and broke, and I was alone in the kitchen…pretty weird: do these dragons say anyone else’s name and cause the gas from ur stoves to turn on when ur alone??? I’d appreciate an answer
    P.S. These damn things are indestructible, ever try tearing it up, it’ll just give you paper cuts and if u do manage to tear it, you can find it good as new when you come back…or atleast thts what happens to me…

    To answer any of my questions refer to me as: ANONYMOUS TWICE

    Plz and Thank You!

  36. when i first made mine it didnt work then i just kept staring at it in different ways and found that if you shake the head a bit it kinda helps

  37. awesome!

    our brains make so many assumptions..human perception is an illusion that makes an illusion that tricks itself into believing that it’s own illusions are real

    i’m using that as my own reason to oppose the “system”

  38. I’m a bit frustrated on the folding part of the head. Can someone please show a video on how to properly fold the head? Coz believe me, I’ve been working on this for 2 hours now and I’m going nowhere on the head part.

    Please, reply ASAP!

  39. I’m cutting it out right now :)

    Although reading some of the comments about it not working I am getting a bit discouraged.


  40. Very awesome. I had some trouble with the general construction, and it only seems to work at certain angles, but I found that if I placed it higher on my desk (corner type) the better it looked.

    I love this illusion. I might use it as an example for the kids in my daycare class.

  41. If you have trouble seeing it, step back and close one eye. Thny move to the left and right, It will jump right out at you. Relaxing your eyes is best to get the normal effect.

  42. I am so making it! someone gave a link to the how to vid on youtube and in the discription it has even more colors it comes in so there is red blue green purple orange mint & black I am going to make them all and put them on the shelf above my computer it will be sooo hacking cool (yes I watch fred figglehorn aka Lucas Cruikshank but I am just a kid not a grown up so ya)

  43. @Mephisto:
    Yes, you need glue!

    This illusion works!
    If you have difficult to prove that it works, just pick you a video camera (phone, web cam, etc) and record a short clip.

    Remember, this only works at 2D! You must close an eye!

  44. Omg This Is Sic It Real Cool I Want 1 ! Just To Spook My Friends Out It Would Be Absolutly Assome Can You Send Me 1 Cause I Cant Find 1 On The Internet Tankxx
    Omg My Friends Will Be So Skyed

  45. i made it and it works! :) if u close one eye and kind of squint like you would for a stareogram it looks awesome

  46. I made it and it works, but nowhere near as good as the one in the video.. quite gay acctually but cool illusion.. But seriously Dont waste your time people.. you will be disapointed with the result no matter how well you make it..

  47. It does not work… there is this red x in a white box. same goes for many of the pics in this website. I tried right click show pic and stuff like that, but it still does not work. how do I make it show up?


    I can’t believe how rude some people are in their gripes about it not working. You’d think they’d paid $20.

    When first viewing it after assembly, i didn’t think it was working well at all. I had to squint and couldn’t get it in the right light.

    After a couple minutes of playing around with it, i’m amazed at how well it works, both horizontally and vertically.

    Here are my tips:

    1. For OPTIMAL effect, COVER OR CLOSE 1 EYE, to shut off your brain’s access to true depth perception, forcing it to interpret on shape and light only. 2 eyes will work. 1 is better. (I didn’t notice this recommendation on the sheet until i’d gotten it to work, but it makes it much easier.)

    2. Bright but difuse lighting. Lighting which is too harsh can create shadows which break the illusion.

    3. On the dragon’s head and mouth, tape/glue the tabs as shown, but DON’T sharply fold the paper where unnecessary. Seeing creases doesn’t help.

    4. Use thicker paper than the cheapest printer muck, but not too stiff. I used really cheapo paper, and it’s too easy to get in situations where light comes through from the rear.

    5. When cutting along the edge behind which the tabs will be attached, CUT OFF THE BLACK OUTLINE so that the colors blend unbroken.

    At first i squinted a little bit and stared at his eyes, taking in the rest as peripheral. Once i could see his head as convex, i found that moving from side to side and up and down fairly quickly actually increased the ease of doing so.

    It wasn’t until that point that i noticed the bit about closing one eye, which just made the effect more dramatic.

    I may have to try my hand at designing my own critter.

  49. Heh! There’s one at the Science Centre in Singapore. (I preferred it when it was Singapore Science Centre. It just sounds weird as Science Centre, Singapore.)

  50. I printed out the red one, and it works great!

    Just like the previous poster pointed out though, try covering one eye and focus on the eyes and it really looks like it’s following you.

  51. Called reverse perspective. Theres a video abt the guy who made reverse perspective in a recent post abt 2/3 weeks ago.

  52. Sorry its 1 month go. Its called Video: Another Reverse Perspective. Go check it out i thinks its rather cool.

  53. Oh my goodness! I watched this video over, and over, and over again ‘cos I liked it so much! I think I’m gonna go make one now. :D

  54. Ha ha! This is so fun! I’ve made a red one, and I am going to make the two others. One trick that works for me is that if you are are a room with a ceiling (spelling?) light, put a torch underneath his chin, then the brightest spots will be on the top of his head nose – where the light would be if the ceiling light was shining on his head. A piece of trivia: whenever I went too far (and saw the white back of his head) I would throw him in shock. One again, this is so fun!

  55. Look at youtube for the answers and how to make/fold the dragon.
    search words as dragon 3d..
    i let my pupils make over 25 dragons we had fun looking at them, really scared 25 dragons looking and folowing u around the classroom.

  56. Love it.It seems like it’s really complicated like there’s some kind of machine behind it or it’s magic when you don’t know the secret,but when you do,you find out that it’s a simple mind trick.

  57. lol, there is something like this in a local restaurant. there is a painting of a pirouge. the painting follows you.

  58. Amazing. Our brains are really weird. I feel bad for all those people who are blind and miss out on all these awesome optical illusions. We take optical illusions for granted.


    HAH HAHA enjoyed it dude…nw trying myself..
    hurray !!
    keep posting

  60. great illusion still confusing how it works.
    may be will understand if I try to create it.
    any way thanks for sharing this.

  61. it will work when ur far in real not on the video. The video still work in near but in real if u get near it will not work.

  62. Meh. works WAY better on camera than in person. Spent 20 mins carefully cutting and taping. I can get it to work, if I squint and close one eye, but I’ll lose it sometimes when turning. Also, you have to start at it and visualize convex for a few seconds before you can turn it…and you have to start at the perfect angle. You really have to concentrate to have it keep following you. Still haven’t got it to follow vertical yet.

  63. This works incredibly well…I made one, by printing out the diagram, & then gluing it to a thin piece of cardboard…I then cut out the dragon, folded it, & watched, as it came to life….Amazing!
    Thanx very much!

  64. I just made one, i told my mom to come see what i made, she was astounded, she didn’t get it at all, then i flipped it around and she was still confused, lol, gonna have to make one for my niece.


    im not kidding, give me the key to your life or i will make a boy with no head or legs to come into your room at midnight and kill you!

  66. i see this one time and i try to wreck the illusion for myself, then i regret it cause i can’t see the illusion again, but this i was able to switch back, i think it’s the spots,

  67. As Peter Grynch (above) states the illusion was developed by Jerry Andrus who was an an American from Oregon state. Jerry came up with many optical illusions that can be found in science centers around the world. Check out a memorial website devoted to Jerry http://jerryandrus.org/ to see some of the amazing items he discovered, invented and or perfected. He will be missed by many.


  68. those things always kinda creep me out…its bad enough when actual people stare at you, now art is doing it too!

  69. These do work very well. You do NOT have to close one eye to see the effect, but it is best viewed from at least 6 feet or 2 meters away.

    Personally I find that putting them just above head height and stepping back about 6 feet and then blinking a couple of times is the easiest way to make them come into effect.

    If you find they don’t work, you have probably folded the head wrong.

  70. awww this is gr8. i can see it by closing on eye. The best and easy way to see it following you is…….. just switch on your mobile phone camera.

  71. If you are unsatisfied with you print,try printing somewhere else,the quality of the printing matters a lot
    Also,watch some videos about the way to do it ( pay attention about it’s teeth if they are correct)
    when done figure a place were the shades dont reveal the trick

  72. If it doesn’t work for you then you assembled it wrong! Or you’re not right. (Its head will be concave when stuck together.)

    It is a brilliant thing!

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