Peep Show

Make a Peep Show

This peep show creates a 3D effect by the layering of images. No special glasses are needed.

Step One: Download the Images

Step Two: Print

You’ll want to either choose a thick paper (like card stock) or print and mount them on something stiff enough not to fall over.

Choose a size that works with your enclosure (Step Four). For the sake of reference (and authenticity, in case you’re replicating the originals exactly), the original cards are 14.5 cm wide and 9 cm tall.

Step Three: Cut Out the Cards

Trim the external edges, but leave them square. Cut out the dark central portion (on all except the backdrop image. Cut carefully, since the illusion will be damaged if you leave portions of the background.

Step Four: Create Your Enclosure

Our peep show is displayed in a wooden box with slots that the cards slide into. You could also fashion something more permanent. You could also use whatever boxes are available (a shoe box, for instance).

Step Five: Line Up the Cards and Attach Them in Your Enclosure

The backdrop will be farthest from the viewer; image 1 will be closest. You can also decide to vary the tableau by leaving out cards. Or you can design your own backdrop and shake things up.

Step Six: Enjoy

When finished, it might look like this. This particular example was most likely created sometime in the 1700s in Germany by a man named Martin¬†Engelbrecht. You can see another example at Yale University’s Cabinet of Curiosities blog.