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By on March 13, 2006, with 162 Comments

Dragon IllusionThis 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!

Dragon IllusionDragon IllusionDragon Illusion


162 Responses
  1. Craig says:

    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. Antonio says:

    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. tray says:

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

  4. Alicia says:

    dat wuz kool, yo! good job! ima print this ****!!!

  5. mike rutch says:

    god bless you too people

  6. Tim says:

    How do you print it?

  7. Bill Stokes says:

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

  8. colt says:

    that was absolutely brilliant:)

  9. dakota says:

    this illusion does not work!!!

  10. LuLu says:

    you spelt sure wrong!!

  11. babe says:

    you just print this???

  12. Tonicboy says:

    Hey, the image links are no good. Does someone have this mirrored somewhere else?

  13. confuseEeddd!!ii!! says:

    im confused i folded it and all but it didnt work??¿¿

  14. Liam says:

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

  15. RONNIE says:





  16. Ligerginny says:

    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.

  17. RaveKev says:

    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 ;) )

  18. Dinguz says:

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

  19. Damn Kid says:

    Spelt isn’t even a word!

  20. niki says:

    yes spelt is a word, it’s brittish

  21. M 2 the H O says:

    dats so cool

  22. M 2 the H O says:

    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

  23. Sir Loin says:

    Gee wilikers dandy the dragon is watchin me eyes and what not! brilliant spectacle yes?

  24. kevin says:

    just like the mona lisa

  25. michael says:

    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?

  26. Dragon Master says:

    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.

  27. Lay-Lay says:

    thats cool, i should try to make it.

  28. Steven says:

    Ok, so staying up late payed off tonight. This is the coolest illision ever. I printed it, cut it out, and (after making it right side out first INCORRECTLY) I fixed it and saw the result… to my amazement. I even videoed a clip of it with my digital camera. http://www.fsunet.com/gallery/v/videos/DRAGON.MOV.html

    If you can’t see it there, you can download the clip directly from http://www.fsunet.com/videos/ (it is the one titled DRAGON.MOV)

  29. Video Games 10 Hours ADay says:

    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?!

  30. Draconology_nerd says:

    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.

  31. Amazed Spectator says:

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

  32. jack says:

    cool dont swear

  33. meeow =^.^= says:

    i am so amazed

  34. Anonymous says:

    You’ve been looking at too many illusions. You don’t know how to spell.

  35. Anonymous says:

    How do you print it? It keeps cutting off part of the tail and instructions or prints super small.

  36. Anonymous says:

    i probaly has special gift, i saw the illusion with my two eyes open.

    • MM says:

      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.)

  37. avenger13 says:

    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*

  38. Anonymous says:

    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

  39. Ashnod says:

    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

  40. hotfoot says:

    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!

  41. Anonymous says:

    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?)

  42. Anonymous says:

    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

  43. Anonymous says:

    Think of the head being outward not inward, this is to micheal(anonymous)

  44. Anonymous says:

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

  45. Anonymous says:

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

  46. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely love it! Are there any other colors I can make?

  47. Brian says:

    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.

  48. Anonymous says:

    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.

  49. crystal says:

    i just made my own…this is the coolest thing i have ever seen……..ever.

  50. Anonymous says:

    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!!!

  51. Anonymous says:

    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!!!

  52. alex says:

    it moves!?!?!?!?!?

  53. ccoopa says:

    omg im so pissed i made it exactly as it said and it dosnt work !!! ARRRGGGHHH

  54. Anonymous says:

    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 :)

  55. nikki says:

    at first it didnt work but then when i stared at it for a few seconds it started workin

  56. Anonymous says:

    my one was rubbish, it didn’t look at me

  57. outis says:

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

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

  58. Anonymous says:

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

  59. Anonymous says:

    you just hurt my brain

  60. paul says:

    this is how to make it

    you’re welcome


    you can get a print out in the description section of the video

  61. Anonymous says:

    My friend has one of those

  62. P-entertainment says:

    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..

  63. kajojone says:

    OMFG! that is one of the coolest things i have ever seen! keep em coming

  64. Anonymous says:

    Incrível, fantástico.

  65. jaime says:

    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)

  66. Detective Kitty says:

    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.

  67. Anonymous says:

    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?!

  68. Anonymous Twice says:

    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!

  69. It works says:

    This is awesome, it works so well!

  70. lucy says:

    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

  71. Eugenia says:

    Mine doesn’t work :(

  72. 2-RD says:


    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”

  73. snitch says:

    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!

  74. Lejla says:

    so cool! :))))))))))))))))))))))

  75. Cat says:

    I’m cutting it out right now :)

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


  76. Libra In Red says:

    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.

  77. CRuth says:

    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.

  78. The Mad Hatter says:

    I have one. It’s so cool! It does work!

  79. Suicidal 'Ling says:

    similar to a house illusions seen on coolopticalillusions.com, my old oi website

  80. Alexandra says:

    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)

  81. Mephisto says:

    Do you need glue to make this?

  82. @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!

  83. Alisha and Via says:

    Way cool man.

  84. Aedin Mc Adams says:

    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

  85. daniel says:


  86. ginny says:

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

  87. Eddie says:

    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..

  88. Hot Stuff says:


  89. Dan Yu Wang says:

    REALLY cool. Couldn’t see the effect, so I thought that I made something wrong, but it really helps if you closes one of the eyes.

  90. Delishia Harding says:


  91. teddy says:

    I LOVE THIS ONE! enough to fool someone! XD

  92. abi luv :) says:


  93. You says:

    I hope it gives Blow Jobs!

  94. 2cool4u_12 says:

    i’ll rip its fukin head off, this trick is a sink

  95. Makdaddy72 says:

    If it doesn’t work, try looking at it with only one eye open.

  96. Zaphod says:

    Haha, it works!But at certain angles it doesn’t work, so I wonder where to place it, hmm…

  97. unmasked says:

    i had one but they black and whit edont work as well as coloured ones

  98. dn says:

    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?

  99. lily says:

    there is one in wonderlad

  100. Scott says:

    That is just too cool! 8^o

  101. Scott says:


    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.

  102. Yin says:

    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.)

  103. Jason says:

    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.

  104. Aaron says:

    Mate, works briliantly…got it sitting next to the tv to freak my mother out

  105. Ringadingding says:

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

  106. Ringadingding says:

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

  107. Orangempress says:

    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

  108. Orangempress says:

    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!

  109. Cody S. says:

    thats pretty freakin awsome☺

  110. Arjan Bruin says:

    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.

  111. Dolphin says:

    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.

  112. maylow says:

    One time!

  113. Lola says:

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

  114. says says:

    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.

  115. Swetc says:


  116. Straw flower says:

    cooool !!!

  117. Banjo8 says:

    man this is so awesome!!!!!! i Think im gonna go make one xD

  118. kieran says:

    they are sooooo cute

  119. hiral says:


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

  120. stuckey says:

    I printed one from the other website, thats more cooler than this one.

  121. Julian says:

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

  122. John says:

    It’s really cool, he’s on my bedroom shelf!
    PS, misspelled “sure” as “shure”.

  123. Newbie :P says:

    The face is caved in :P

  124. Peter Grynch says:

    The dragon illusion was created by Magician Jerry Andrus who specialized in tricks based on unusual perception.

  125. Conrad says:

    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.

  126. paperdragonking says:

    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.

  127. Diablo says:

    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!

  128. Nana says:

    I want one so bad! But I don’t have a printer :(

  129. Games On PS3 says:

    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.

  130. cyspy says:


    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!

  131. Elina says:

    Love it! It’s really creepy in dim light and one eye closed. I chose the green one and named him Efraim. :)

  132. thebrainster says:

    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,

  133. 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.


  134. jack says:

    i made one once and they are cool.

  135. Vladimir says:

    It works n_n, Thanks :D

  136. This actually answered the downside, thanks!

  137. jezza says:

    i love these.Can one be done with a human picture? Thx

  138. bailey says:

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

  139. its incredible how can a piece of paper, overpass a computer fx at many ways, with just.

  140. 123 says:

    imagine its saying where you going

  141. vcg says:

    wow!! cool! i want to have one of these!! ^^

  142. Lolzatater=] says:

    I want one =3

  143. says says:

    It works!

  144. Martin says:

    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.

  145. zulu says:

    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.

  146. rabbit says:

    This was on an episode of Brain Games on Nat Geo.
    But bigger.

  147. Ram Dom says:

    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

  148. fdr says:

    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!

  149. Michelle Gill says:

    I had one of these sitting on my monitor for years. Lost the little guy when my parrot attacked it.

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