Here is quick and easy way to make a fully functional miniature zoetrope. You can put this together in half an hour (plus paint drying time) out of easy-to-find materials.

Video Instructions


  • Cardboard cylindrical food container. Grits, corn meal, and oats often come in this type of container. The size seems to be standardized in the U.S. so the pattern should work with any of these containers.
  • Black paint. I used flat black spray paint.
  • Hammer and nail (if your container has a metal bottom).


  1. Cut out the two template pieces with the notches and tape them together to form one long strip.
  2. Wrap the strip around the cylindrical container and tape it in place. I found that you can use either end of the container to make the zoetrope. If the container you are using has a plastic lid, it is easier to work with that end than with the end made of metal, but the metal bottom spins more smoothly.
  3. Using a craft knife or scissors, cut the cylinder to size and cut out the slots. Remove the template.
  4. Poke a hole in the middle of the bottom of the can and push a pencil partway through the hole. If your container has a metal bottom, you might have to drill a hole first and tape or hot glue the pencil in place afterward.
  5. Paint the outside of the cylinder black. I found that this is an important step. Before I painted the outside of the cylinder black, the designs on the cylinder were very distracting and diminished the effectiveness of the zoetrope.
  6. Cut out two strips with images, tape them together to form one long strip, and place it inside the zoetrope.
  7. Look through the slots at the images on the inside of the zoetrope as you spin it. It helps to hold the zoetrope under a bright light.
  8. Draw your own animation using the blank strip provided on the template.


  • You do not have to have the same number of images as you have slits. Experiment with fewer or more to see what effect it has.