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Make your own zoetrope inspired by DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition – Journey from Sketch to Screen.

Model of a zoetrope, showing a series of dots drawn on the inside.

Did you know ...

A zoetrope is a device that gives the illusion of a moving image. The earliest zoetropes are from the 1860s.

The Museum's collection includes a model praxinoscope and a chromatrope, which used a series of slides. Modern ones can include the use of 3D technology.

How to make your own zoetrope

Skill level: ★★★ Challenging – you may need an adult to help
40–60 minutes

What you need:

  • paper
  • cartridge paper (this stronger paper card can be bought at local art stores)
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape
  • pencils and textas
  • pebble, marble or string (something for your zoetrope to pivot on)
  • print outs of the zoetrope and animated strips templates.

Parts of a zoetrope:

  • Wall – the outside part of your zoetrope. When you spin the zoetrope and look through the gaps you will see your animation.
  • Base – the circular bottom part that attaches to the wall
  • Animation strips – two strips of paper (21 cm wide x 4 cm high) that fit inside the wall. This is where you make your frame-by-frame drawing.
  • Pivot point – the centre point from where the zoetrope will spin.

Step 1

Supplies for making a zoetrope including scissors, glue and paper.
  • Gather your materials.
  • Download the zoetrope and animation strip templates and print them out.

Step 2

  • Glue the template onto the cartridge paper.

Step 3

  • Once the glue is dry, cut out the template using scissors. Remember: scissors are sharp! Please ask an adult for help. Don’t forget to cut out all the narrow viewing slits.

Step 4

  • Tape the wall ends together to form a circle. Keep the black side facing outwards.

Steps 5–6

  • Tape the walls to the base, making sure the slits are at the top.
  • Turn your zoetrope over. Tape a small, smooth pebble or marble to the centre of the circular base, to provide a pivot point for the zoetrope to spin on.
  • Turn the zoetrope back over, so the slits are at the top.

Steps 7–8

  • Cut out the animated strips from the template.
  • Practice drawing your animation in pencil on scrap paper.
  • When ready, draw the stages onto the animation strip, in sequence.
  • Place the animation strip into the zoetrope against the wall, below the slits.

Step 9

  • Look through the slits from the outside while you spin the zoetrope. Does your animation come to life?
  • Test out different designs and animations.
Zoetrope 0:07

We used a simple series of dots. This video shows how they appear when we spun our zoetrope on a small marble.

Share your creation

We’d love to see your creation by emailing us a photo to:

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