Designs in 90 Seconds – Shadow Casting

by David Hamilton, Director of Programs

In our latest “Designs in 90 Seconds” video, we explore shadow casting.

With a few pieces of cardstock, some Playdoh, and your smartphone, you can have a quick and easy way to explore composition, movie-making effects, visual story-telling, and even (coming soon) trigonometry. We like using shadows as a teaching tool because they are low-cost, simple to set up, and have a significant visual impact. On top of that, shutting off the lights always makes things quieter. Give it a try!

The secret to casting good, crisp shadows is to use a flashlight with a single LED (the smaller, the better). The shadows will be fuzzy and undefined if the flashlight is too big. The light on most camera phones is an excellent place to start.

For a brighter light, this Mini-Maglight is our favorite and this even smaller one is a close second.


Materials List


8.5″x11″ 65lb Cardstock 

3mm Baltic Birch plywood (for character bases)