Optical illusion: Making an Ames room from scratch

I first heard about the Ames room when the Royal Institution of Great Britain
uploaded a ‘Tales from the prep room’ video on facebook

The Ames room was invented by an opthalmologist named Adelbert Ames. It is an oddly shaped room; the ceiling, floor and two of the walls are trapezium shaped. When viewed from a certain point the room appears to be in the cuboid shape that we are used to. If an object is moved around in the room it appears to change in size.

I decided to make one for my self but all that’s available on the internet are templates. Templates that you need to print out. As I was out of ink I decided to start from scratch. Using the template in the .pdf below by Project LITE I measured the angles and began constructing…


Equipment: Protractor, ruler, shoe box/cardboard box/A3 piece of card (the bigger the card, the bigger the Ames room the better the illusion), pencil, sellotape, coloured pens and paint.

Note: An ERROR I made here was not making sides F and D the same length. Remember this if you’re planning to make one!


Half of the Ames room constructed using a ruler and protractor.

Half of of the Ames room

Shoe box flattened out

Cut around the shape but not along the vertical edge

Cut around the shape but not along the longer vertical edge of region A

Fold along the vertical edge

Fold along the longer vertical edge of region A


Draw around the diagonal and shortest side of region A

Unfold and add in the other diagonal of region A

Unfold and pencil in the other diagonal of region A

I went over the pencil lines with pen and cut out the entire shape

I went over the pencil lines with pen and cut out the entire shape

Place the shape onto the left over card and draw around regions B and C

Place the shape on to the left over card and draw around regions B and C


Adding in the labels according to the Project LITE link

Cut out a viewing hole. Paint each section using the Project LITE link as guide as to which parts are walls, ceiling and floor. Put the sections together and you have a miniature Ames room!

And the finished product…

20140422_072531Granted, it doesn’t look too neat. I removed the roof as it kept getting in the way and had to make the rectangular walls smaller in width due to my error at the beginning. To give an idea of the size, the longer sides were 15cm in length so the illusion wasn’t too easy to notice.

Lessons learned: don’t make assumptions about dimensions especially when it’s an optical illusion you’re dealing with!

optical illusion
  1. something that deceives the eye by appearing to be other than it is.



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