The art of making things disappear involves a combination of both psychological misdirection and physical skill, according to LiveScience. A magician must first redirect his audience's attention away from his target, and then he must be able to palm or otherwise dispose of the item without creating obvious movement.
LiveScience states that distraction is the key to most magic tricks. Magicians use humor to disarm the audience and get them to lose their focus. They also use physical gestures as well as pointedly directing their own gaze where they want the audience to be looking. When a magician performs this misdirection properly, he can actually cause a spectator's brain to miss the small cues that may identify what happens to the disappeared subject.
Once the audience loses focus or is misdirected away from the action, the magician can make his move. In the case of small items such as cards or balls, the magician simply palms the item or slips it into a hidden pocket while keeping the audience focused elsewhere, according to The Brain Bank of the University of Bristol. In the case of larger objects, animals or people, the illusions usually rely on special equipment, such as a top hat with a hidden pocket or a cabinet with hidden trapdoors and mirrors to obscure a hiding place.