It’s Alive! The Mind-Bending 3D Optical Illusion Anyone Can Draw

You don’t have to be a magician (David Copperfield, David Blaine, David ... you get the idea) to fool the eye into seeing something that isn't there. In fact, all you need to pull off a mind-bending, look-twice trick is a piece of paper, some colored pencils or markers and the fun op-art technique I'm about to teach you.

Try your “hand” at this drawing exercise, then make it your own by playing with different colors and shapes. Your friends will think you’re the next MC Escher!

Drawing an Op-Art Hand

1. Draw Your Shape

Decide what shape or subject you want to illustrate. We chose a hand (it's right there at the end of your arm, and easy to trace). But you can use any object, so long as it has curves (a heart symbol, for example, would work really well). Use a pencil to lightly trace or draw your chosen subject in the center of the page.

2. Choose Your Colors

Time to select your color palette. The options are pretty much endless. You could opt for a cool palette, as we have here, or go with warm tones, a monochrome effect, even a mixture of random colors — U2U! If you don't know where to start, review the color wheel to determine which hues look best together. Mark down the order you want the colors to appear in your drawing so you can remember and repeat the sequence.

3. Make Your First Lines

Begin to draw thin straight lines across the background, keeping your subject blank. Do your best to keep the lines straight and aligned, separated by just a few millimeters.

4. Fill in the Background

Continue working your way down the paper with each new line, repeating the same sequence of colors.

Tip: Try to keep your lines aligned, even when they’re separated by parts of your object, such as the fingers in our drawing (this will make the next step a lot easier).

5. Fill in the Shape

Once the background is completely covered, it’s time to fill in your shape. Using the same colors as before, connect each line from one edge of the shape to the other, but this time make the lines curved. Continue filling in your shape, keeping your curves roughly the same distance apart.

Do a double take: Your hand is popping off the page!

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