Dragon Illusion

This is a wonderful optical illusion. This little dragon is made out of paper - you simply cut it out and stick it together, and stand it on a table or window ledge. But when you move around, the dragon's head seems to follow you around the room. Have a look at the video, to see what we mean. The effect is really uncanny.

I cannot help but stare at it in amazement... the veracity of the illusion is unsettling; You have turned a dull weekend at the office into an exploration of the wonders of the visual centers of the brain. Jim S, Buffalo, NY, USA

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.

You can download a copy of the actual dragon and try this illusion for yourself if you wish. This is a PDF file. Right click to download the file. This is a 244k download. Once you have printed the dragon out (a colour printer is best since this is a colour image) then you can cut out the dragon, fold and stick it, and you will be able to see this fantastic illusion yourself. When you print the page out, you will see that the instructions for folding the dragon are included. Please follow these instructions exactly.

The dragon is reproduced here with the permission of the American company ThinkFun (formerly Binary Arts), who sell a wide range of fun toys. Visit the ThinkFun web site to see the wide range of wonderful things they have on offer.