National Gallery at Home: Make your own camera obscura!

Camera Obscura

Follow these simple steps to create your own camera obscura! 

Follow the steps in the video below to make your own camera obscura, inspired by the early type of camera used by some artists. You'll find all the materials and instructions listed below. Let's get started!

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National Gallery of Ireland at Home

Make your own Camera Obscura!


Materials and instructions

You will need:

  • Tinfoil
  • Baking paper (or the bag from a cereal box)
  • Scissors
  • Toilet roll insert
  • Kitchen roll insert
  • Sticky tape


  1. Draw a circle on your baking parchment or cereal bag, and cut around it
  2. Cover one end of your kitchen paper insert with it.
  3. Make sure it's flat, and then stick it in place by taping down the sides.
  4. Now take your toilet paper insert, and cover one end of it with tinfoil.
  5. Using your tack or pin, pop a hole in the centre of the tinfoil.
  6. Take your toilet paper insert, and place the uncovered end on top of the uncovered end of your kitchen paper roll, and stick them together.
  7. Decorate them however you'd like!
  8. Now, take a peek through, pointing it towards the light. 
  9.  Everything is now reflected upside down!

Share your artwork!

Would you like to see your artwork featured on the Gallery's website? Take a photo of your artwork and send it to us by email ([email protected]) or using this online form to upload your picture. We'll feature a selection of pictures in the Creative Challenge Gallery, so check back to see if yours is included!

Upload a picture of your artwork using this form

Inspired by ...

Oil painting of a woman writing a letter at a table with a maid standing beside her
Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), 'Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid', c.1670. Image © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

This activity is inspired by this painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. The painting is called Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid. Some people think that Vermeer might have used a camera obscura to help him create his paintings.


Thank you to Fia Nic Con Iomaire, aged 5.

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