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Gathering for Gardner Paper Dragon

June 15, 2005

One of the most powerful optical illusions I've ever seen is Jerry Andrus' paper dragon. It is a dragon made of paper which is folded in a certain way that it seems to follow you with his head wherever you go. Very interesting.


(note to notpron players: yes, it is the same dragon. perspective is the key.)

The project of this dragon is very easy to assemble. It is not an origami, all you have to do is cut on the template lines, fold it and glue some parts. It usually does not work with both eyes on short distance, you may get a better effect by either closing one eye or looking at it from some distance (2 meters is enough). Also, light influences the effect, it is not good to have a direct light spot over it - the less shadows the better. Check this video to see how it works.

You may use Photoshop to change the color of your dragon, mine is green (dragons are green, aren't they?). I have made templates available in three different colors:

Green Dragon, Blue Dragon, Red Dragon

There are many optical illusions on this site, where the original template came from, many of them are viewable directly through the browser and others require some assembling.

Update: a commenter found a different version of the same illusion, with a skeleton instead of a dragon. I didn't assembly it yet, but it seems to have far less folds than the dragon, which may compromise the effect but make it easier to put together. You may find it here.

ricardo at 11:46 PM :: ::
« :: »

Does anybody know of similar illusions that one can assemble?

Posted by: RogerJ at October 30, 2005 4:07 PM

i've seen anther dragon to sell somewhere, don't remember where though. i think it was made of wood or something. same illusion, only prettier.

Posted by: art at October 30, 2005 4:08 PM

thanks for tipping me off about the notpr0n thing :D i've spent ages trying to figure it out lol

Posted by: andy at January 15, 2006 3:10 PM

but where can i buy one

Posted by: IKE at January 26, 2006 12:21 AM

I t is so awsome but also kinda freaky!!!:P:P On a scale from 1-10 idd give it a 5

Posted by: Ashley at February 19, 2006 11:53 AM

Where can i buy the green Dragon? i live in mexico how much it cost?

Posted by: Alfredo at April 26, 2006 1:20 AM

if u know how tell me

Posted by: Alfredo at April 26, 2006 1:21 AM

I did the dragon and it works perfectly :D
I recommend putting a glass between you and the dragon to imrpove the ilusion. If you don't put a glasss try not looking at it to closely.
Have fun! :D

Posted by: Joka at June 29, 2006 9:05 PM

Man, that's very awesome. I had to make twice to work but it was no problem. It really works if u're doing the righ way. don't stay to close, close one eye and watch for light, it won't work with too many shadows. very cool

Posted by: Alande at July 2, 2006 9:35 PM

Really great effect - Just remember to printout two copies as you'll need the folds instructions and they're easier to figure out on an uncut sheet. Are there anymore of these illusions available??

Posted by: Stubbo at August 4, 2006 2:03 PM

mine didnt work you know somethig i can do?

Posted by: metal.. at August 14, 2006 11:54 PM

It is simple, just close one eye, than look right to it, it works fine....

Posted by: Erik at September 2, 2006 12:06 PM

Mine also didn't work at first because I made him the wrong way :) . Watch

The head should be concave!!! That is when you are making it, it looks rather strange. But when it is ready and you look at it at some distance, it's fantastic!
Thanks to the author!

Posted by: Victoria< Russia at September 10, 2006 11:02 AM

Illuminate it from below for best effect. Even a flashlight works well. The idea is that the concave head must be fully illuminated - no shadows to give the observer's brain any clues as to what's going on.

Posted by: bellzerr at September 10, 2006 3:00 PM

You rock. I've been looking everywhere for this template!!!


Posted by: DragonSlayer at September 18, 2006 8:47 PM

My name is Tora. I'm fourteen and I live in Japan. I made it. It's very good! Thanks.

Posted by: Tora at September 25, 2006 7:01 AM

anyone have any advise for printing this out? I'm not able to make this fit somehow

Posted by: thea at September 26, 2006 3:40 PM

i don't know how to make it please help, a video would be awesome

Posted by: dragon guy at October 1, 2006 8:05 PM

wow very nice illusion.
i will test the dragon very soon.


Posted by: macosbrain at October 3, 2006 8:29 AM

In case anyone is interested, here is a similar illusion, except it's a skeleton instead of the dragon... enjoy!

Posted by: Athios at October 14, 2006 6:47 AM


where can I buy it??? or Print it???


Posted by: Dams at October 26, 2006 10:16 PM

Achei a ideia do Dragão do caralho!!!

No começo eu achei que não iria funcionar, mais vi que funciona de verdade!!!

Porra to impressionado.

Posted by: Tico at October 30, 2006 11:20 AM

hi can u plz tell me how to get the dragon i want 1 my wood techer told me that he got his off this but i dunno how to get it plz help me plz send me something back to help like info

Posted by: sharp at November 3, 2006 1:27 AM

is it just me...or are the explainations for the head exactly the opposite? it says "valley fold" and "mountain fold", but from the pictures it doesn't fit at all.. for example the ears...and somehow it doesn't work unfortunately :( maybe because I printed it without colors

Posted by: blub at December 23, 2006 11:34 PM

ok lol just found out... its explained the right way i'm just stupid ^^ don't try to think, just follow the explaination. really impressive!

Posted by: blub at December 23, 2006 11:45 PM

Awsome!!!! Where can I buy that????!!!!

Posted by: Chris Johnson at February 3, 2007 11:45 PM

Download Here..:D Just, print, cut, and stick the tabs..


Posted by: Andres at February 15, 2007 4:03 AM

Es una de las mejores ilusiones opticas tridimensionales que existen.

Posted by: RetaYgana at February 24, 2007 9:40 AM

Hi !
Thanks for this little cute dragon ^^ (and i love dragons!)it's really weird (and i love optical illusions too lol), and i'm happy to have finally found the template here !

The effect is greater on a video ;)

Posted by: Mambba at April 16, 2007 8:07 PM

Try it at night with only a black light, now this is trippy and you won't lose the illusion at all.

Posted by: Michael at June 20, 2007 11:39 PM

Oh, also, if you have trouble getting it printed fully, try printing from your prefrences using the poster settings. Try using the 2x2 or rather the 4 sheets setting. I made a large one using 9 sheets of paper, taped them all together and cut it out. I had to brace it in back because his head was a little heavy but it works great. I'm making a 5' tall one out of wood to put in the garden so when people walk by it will watch them the entire way! If it works, I will try to get it on video and you tube it.

Posted by: Michael at June 20, 2007 11:46 PM

this a sorprendent hoo ,the dragon is movie

Posted by: israel at June 22, 2007 1:13 AM

es sorprendente

Posted by: keni at July 14, 2007 6:28 PM

Where can I buy it? I live in Madrid (Spain)

Posted by: Ángeles at July 18, 2007 1:20 PM

All you people asking dumb questions. Download the picture from the original post, print it out, cut it out, fold and glue and you have it. There is nothing to buy!!

Posted by: petros at July 18, 2007 2:54 PM

thanks you petros, I did it but my dragon don´t moves

Posted by: Ángeles at July 25, 2007 1:32 PM

Fools! Quit asking where you can buy it and just print the damn thing!

Posted by: Willow at September 11, 2007 3:15 PM

Hello guys,
I'm fascenated by this cool illusion, and I'm wondering if we can make our own illusions of any characters.
I mean, not just dinosaur, but any head of any creature, in my case that'd be a robot's head.

I tried a human head, but that didn't look stereo or following me.
I guess the essential thing is to build the silhouette,
but here comes the problem: human head is a lot different from dinosaur one, mainly on the part of nose and the lower part of the face.
How do I do to simplify a human head into this kind of cubic shape?

any suggestion is highly appreciated~

Posted by: Howard at October 26, 2007 4:46 AM

I can not get it to fit on the paper!

Posted by: hannah at December 8, 2007 12:06 PM

printed it out and tried it, works really well!

Posted by: hi everybody! at December 19, 2007 4:10 AM

The site rocks along with this dragon pattern! A must to check out!!

Posted by: Lisa at January 30, 2008 7:00 PM

i have a dragon in few colors,also a zombie,girl,robo dog and frogie.
I will send to who want it,for free :)
if someone want to reward me for sharing its cool,but no money need it to sent it :D

Posted by: Panter at January 7, 2010 12:48 PM

and my email ;)

and i have a cat too :) same illusion.

Posted by: Panter at January 7, 2010 12:50 PM