Origami: Arrow Illusion, v2

Announcement: I now have a flickr account for my origami photos!  Now the images are bigger, and you can find them all in one place.  There are also lots of photos that I haven’t (yet) posted on my blogs.

Image is of two origami arrows in front of a mirror. Both arrows point to the right, but in the reflection, one of the arrows points to the left.

Arrow Illusion, version 2. An original design.  My hand is in the photo to show that this is a real mirror.

Over a year ago, I designed an origami arrow that points in the opposite direction when looked at in a mirror.  I wanted to revisit the design, and make it easier to fold, because this is basically the most popular origami thing I have ever done.  Below, I show detailed diagrams, and a sneak peek behind the curtain.

This model was based on a paper by Kokichi Sugihara, explaining a particular optical illusion.  You can watch an amazing video showing a cylinder that has a square reflection.  My model is optimized for viewing at a 45 degree angle, and it works best at a distance (because of field of view effects).

You are free to print out these instructions.  But if you plan on distributing copies, please ask permission.  E-mail me at skepticsplay at gmail dot com, so I can give you a proper pdf.

First page of the Arrow Illusion folding diagramsdiagrams, page 2 What does the illusion look like from a different angle?  The illusion breaks down fairly quickly, as you can see here:

A peek behind the curtains of the arrow illusion.

The red arrow on the left is not an illusion, it’s just a regular arrow I folded on the fly.


  1. DonDueed says

    Minor correction: it looks like the second page of your instructions is labeled “Page 1 of 2”, same as the first page.

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