Drawing optical illusions, math equations, and other things that people stop to look at
November 22, 2006 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Help me draw interesting simple things.

I've learned how to draw the classic Penrose triangle, the impossible cube, the Devil's Pitchfork and some other optical illusions but I'd like to expand my repertoire. (Think: whiteboard graffiti).

Complex math equations (like the limerick "integral z squared d z, from one to the cube root of three...") and things like the "power circle" (the diagram derived from Ohm's law that shows power as well as current, voltage and resistance) count too.

Anything simple: line drawings, especially ones that can be filled in with color (like the Penrose triangle and cube) are a super-bonus. Thanks!
posted by ostranenie to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Escher did lots of tiled drawings where there is no "negative space", or background. Just start lightly drawing simple faces or animals or objects, then look at the background spaces, and turn these into objects or animals by modifying the originals. You don't need to tile these--you can fill the whole paper with unique drawings. It might help if you cut some out and moved/rotated them on the background.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2006

those are called tessellations.
posted by nimsey lou at 10:10 AM on November 22, 2006

Very interesting, but I'm looking for more one-shot drawings that have a finite beginning and end. I'm going to have to throw down some tessellated octahedron origami though, for sure!
posted by ostranenie at 10:18 AM on November 22, 2006

Not really new, but I like this blueprint of three impossible objects combined:

posted by Glum at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2006

this used to be my favorite thing to draw as a kid:

impossible triangle
posted by farmersckn at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2006

this multiplication trick might be simpler than you wanted but i found it very interesting.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 10:41 AM on November 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

Thanks again - Does anyone know the author of the Impossible Fork blueprint diagram Glum posted?
posted by ostranenie at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2006

the blueprint seems to be from D.H. Seckel?
posted by soma lkzx at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2006

Maxwell's equations in differential form are surprisingly compact (partly because the notation hides a lot of calculus machinery), but hidden in those four little small equations lie the complete description of how all things E&M work - light, radio, microwaves, electricity, magnetism, radiation, etc.

Euler's formula (often expressed as e + 1 = 0) contains 5 fundamental mathematical symbols/ideas in one very elegant equation, and in general the equation is very useful when manipulating/transforming expressions involving complex numbers.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:07 PM on November 22, 2006

Note that if you want to use Euler's Identity, most people would write it eπi + 1 = 0. Use of j to indicate the imaginary unit is mostly confined to electrical engineers and Python programmers.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 12:22 PM on November 22, 2006

Bryne's Euclid would seem to have a ton of things along this line. The graphical proof of pythagoras theorem as a good example.
posted by alikins at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2006

Other ideas, any variation of a unit circle and it's friends. Or a involute circle.
posted by alikins at 2:49 PM on November 22, 2006

posted by Meatbomb at 7:42 PM on November 22, 2006

Also see last image on this page, and this.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:45 PM on November 22, 2006

Sorry, last one: Möbius strip.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:47 PM on November 22, 2006

They're a little involved for simple whiteboard doodles, but you might get some inspiration from Escher's impossible worlds like Belvedere and Waterfall. You'd have to pare them down to simple line drawings, but many people would probably recognize them. Thus, bonus points for Culture as well as optical illusions.
posted by Quietgal at 9:45 PM on November 22, 2006

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