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How to make optical illusion drawings

Updated July 20, 2017

Drawings based on optical illusions, known as Op Art, are designed to deceive the eye. Typical designs favour bold colour theory or strong black and white combinations of pattern and geometric shapes. While these designs appear complicated, don't be fooled. Many optical illusion drawings can be created by following basic steps. With a few materials and a bit of practice, you'll be making your own optical illusion drawing in a short time.

Place your pencil about an inch away from the top corner of your paper. Lightly draw a wavy line from the top to the bottom, running off the edges. Keep the line soft and undulating, like a snake or a wave. When you're happy with the quality of the line, create another one about an inch away in the same wavy style. Continue to space lines with intervals of about an inch across your paper until you run out of space.

Draw a circle about the size of a quarter in any off-centre location on your paper. It will work best if you place the circle over a wavy line, bisecting it. This circle will be the central focal point of your illusion.

Create another, concentric circle around your first circle in the same approximate shape. Make the space between the outside of the first circle and the inside of the new one about an inch wide. Continue to create concentric circles with inch-wide intervals around each circle that you draw, running off of the paper when necessary. When you've finished your paper will have an organic checkerboard grid.

Place your pencil in one corner of the paper and draw a dot in the closed shape created there. From that point, imagine each undulating shape as squares meeting on a checkerboard. Just like with those squares, the spaces will alternate between light and dark. With your pencil, lightly mark the spaces that will be coloured in. This will help you avoid mistakes when you're working in marker.

Fill in the spaces that you have marked with a dark coloured marker. Move across the paper in an organised way so that you avoid making permanent mistakes and ruining the visual illusion.

Clean up the pencil lines of your drawing with an eraser. A clean, crisp contrast between the two colours will help your drawing play tricks on the eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser
  • Black marker
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About the Author

Clarissa Morgan works within the field of education and has been writing freelance articles for Internet publications such as eHow and Answerbag since 2010. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration from Moore College of Art and Design and is pursuing her Master of Education at Arcadia University.