Phenakistoscopes | STEAM Project (How to Make/DIY) | Drawn to Life: Animation in Nature Mike Cope

Learn how to make optical illusion discs based on an early animation invention called a “Phenakistoscope.” A great STEAM activity! This video will review and build on animation concepts covered in previous episodes (ex. animation cycles) and demonstrate how frames per second (FPS) help animations create the “illusion of movement.”

The first phenakistoscope that Mike Cope shares is the animated cycle of a fish opening and closing its mouth. He will then demonstrate the steps on how you can create your own phenakistoscope. We’ll first learn how to prepare the cardboard disc by recycling an empty cereal box. Then using the example of a bird flapping its wings, Mike will lead you through the animation drawing steps (starting with the extreme poses, then adding the in-between drawings). After that, we’ll take our optical illusion discs for a spin!

Time to Complete Project: 30 minutes

Materials: blank paper, pencil, scissors, ruler, thin black marker, empty cereal box, circle stencil (ex. plastic bowl or lid), wire hanger. The circle stencil should be large enough to fit and fill a piece of paper.

(STEAM = Science + Technology + Engineering + Art + Math)