The elaborate hoax behind crop circles

Crop circles around the world still cause mystery and intrigue. Whether you believe it

How to Make a Crop Circle

Crop circles (a generic term for the phenomenon of flattened plants) form in many areas of the world, with visual effects ranging from irregular shapes to amazing geometric patterns. The source of their formation is surrounded by controversy (see How to Explain Crop Circles), but there are some crop circles out there that have definitely been made by people. If you’ve ever wanted to explore making crop circles as a skill and an art form, here’s how!

1. Choose a legal location for your crop circle. Obtain permission from the land owner before you start planning. Ideal choices are sloped fields that rise from public vantage points (a road for instance), or even an amphitheater-like valley.
2. Plan your crop circle using a large scale map, to ensure access for both you and your audience. Plot your straight-line or circular design. Mark on the map the directions you will be flattening, to avoid visible signs of passage (inexperienced circle makers can spoil a design by leaving stripes like a lawnmower would). Initial access is normally through existing farm tracks and trails, so note the position of them before you start.
3. Create your design on computer, and make amendments until you have the design you can be proud of. Use inspiration from state-of-the-art designs as seen on the internet. Practicing shape-making in the field will only result in people seeing your mistakes. Start simple: consider making your first crop circle from an arrangement of discs in a geometric formation. More advanced curved lines can be created by overlapping partial circular arcs.
4. Equip each member with the equipment listed further below:
5. Once in the field, use measurements to place markers exactly. Your friends can help you place markers, make line-of-sight calculations, and lay the rope to mark areas for flattening.
6. Make construction lines by laying rope outlines to shapes. Then flatten circles at the intersection points. To make the shown example formation, create a rope outline of a equilateral triangle, and create flattened circles at the triangle corners. Avoid flattening over the rope, to create an implied triangle.
7.  There are two methods commonly used to flatten:

  • Plank Flattening – use a roped plank (see Things You’ll Need) to flatten by holding the rope or looping it over your shoulders. Press forwards and down by keeping one foot on the plank. Advance using a shuffling gait.
  • Using a roller – some circlemakers prefer using a light roller (available from garden centers) to speed up flattening.
8. Keep on flattening until you have completed your design and have a really nice, well-made complex formation.
9. Wait for the media to spot the new formation. This may take several days, or you can speed the process by making an anonymous call. A good design will provide local newspapers with many column-inches of speculation.
10. Ask local pilots if they can try and help your research by photographing for you when passing and leave them your email address.


  • For best results you should probably spend more time planning the crop circle than actually making it. By carefully planning the design, working out what equipment is needed, and discarding ideas that will be difficult or impossible to achieve, you can reduce the scope for embarrassing errors.
  • Use measurements scaled up from your design and a surveyors tapemeasure to subdivide your circle into parts, put posts on the points. Don’t try and guess stuff by eye as these circles usually fail.
  • Hold tapes or measuring ropes tight, slack tapes mean wobbly circles. Experienced circlemakers hold tape measure so tight it hurts. No pain, no accuracy!
  • Flatten during a dry period, to avoid churning up mud.
  • Walk sideways using edge of your foot to flatten corn AKA “sidestomping” when tolding tapes to do circles, this makes fatter lines easier to see.
  • Straight lines are created by two persons holding tape and one person “sidestomping” along the tape with it almost touching their belly.
  • Try to use the cover of night. Remember that ideally you should be finished by dawn, when you can take a picture of the pristine design before swarms of “croppies” come and trample all over it.
  • To leave a ‘weird’ crop circle of cosmic origins:
    • Bend some stalks around by exposing them to a blue light source for a few hours. Applying small amounts of natural gum or plaster will lock their new shape. Sadly this approach may not satisfy a detailed or scientific inspection.
    • Create swirled nests in the flattened areas by your clever weaving of stalks.
    • Also, melt some iron filings into droplets on site and sprinkle them around the flattened area to leave ‘meteorite particles’ and magnetized stalks.
    • Try varying the direction you flatten the corn, wavy lines or up a line then back a line. This creates amazing shiny lay patterns visible from the air.


  • Crop circle art is like graffiti for ‘cerealogists’, often undertaken without permission. Be careful, as not surprisingly, farmers do NOT want damage to their property. Always operate within the law.
  • The amount of crop flattened need not be excessive to make a strong impression of shape and form. In fact, you should not plan to flatten a larger area destructively, and it had better be beautiful or you can expect criticism and opposition.
  • Remember to take away everything you brought to the site, including the soft drink bottles which are so easy to discard in the outlying field. These are a sure distractor to the otherwise mysterious formation.
  • Do not attempt this in the US. Over here in the States, you could end up being shot OR arrested.

Things You’ll Need

  • A light plank (4-6 feet in length) with a rope (10-12 feet) knotted through holes in each end. Alternatively, you may prefer to buy a light garden roller from a garden centre.
  • A surveryors reel measuring tape as it doesnt stretch. Rope or nylon can be used but may stretch and make wobbly edges to circles.
  • Marking poles – paint tips white to aid visibility at night
  • Protractor for measuring angles
  • Measuring tape (100 ft)
  • Night-vision goggles (optional) – your eyes adjust to complete dark in 20 minutes.
  • Laser-pointer to assist placing markers (optional)
  • A really good imagination! (rdn)
Posted in How To, Odd News, Odd Stuff & News, Off Topic.


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