How to Make an Impossible Building | Creating the Image

This video is about how to create the image of an impossible building using a stair drawing. The drawing is in the style of M.C. Escher who was a talented dutch artist (1898 – 1972). A few of his pieces depict impossible scenes featuring stairs that would otherwise never work. In honor of Escher’s brilliant imagination I set out to create a simple piece of impossible architecture. To do this I relied on a similar approach to Escher’s by creating a praline drawing called an oblique projection. In this case the projection is represented with the plan lines set at 90 degree angles to one another. The drawing, like Escher’s, is also a plan view looking down from above. In the same way Escher’s 4 sets of stair appear to climb and yet go nowhere I am able to show a similar kind of illusion with only two sets of stairs and switchback planes in space. The stairs appear to work, but if one descends one set, then another, they still arrive at the top of the first. The same is also true if one ascends one set, then another, they travel nowhere. Furthermore, by projecting a large mass below I’m able to reinforce the illusion. Just as Escher shows a large building mass below his stairs, the impossible stairs in this drawing appear to be a smaller part of a larger object. What tricks the mind is that the building looks like it works so the stairs should too. The climbing effect created at the top of the object is also reinforced by adding a set of stairs at the bottom. As an added detail I’ve added parapets to the roof which further contribute to the illusion that the roof is both a familiar form and more like steps. After the massing is complete I then add large office like windows to the object to make it look as though it’s a building floating in space. Adding windows to the interior reinforce further the depth and believability of the object. Next, You’ll notice that I’ve added dark and light planes to give the illusion of three dimensionality. I’ve chosen the darkest value for planes facing to the left, a slightly lighter value for those facing right and the lightest values for the planes facing upward. This reinforces the idea that the sun is above the object and it is in fact real. Finally, I’d like a background to reinforce the infinite nature of the object and thus the form of infinity is an appropriate place to start. Then simply overlay the two images and that’s how I made an impossible building. I’m Doug Patt. We’ll see you next time.


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