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How to Draw Impossible Stairs

Easy, step by step Impossible Stairs drawing tutorial
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Impossible stairs - also called Penrose stairs, Penrose steps, continuous staircase, or the impossible staircase - is a type of optical illusion called an impossible object.

The illusion is created as the brain tries to perceive the two dimensional drawing as a three dimensional figure.

What makes these stairs so impossible? Each flight of stairs on its own appears normal. It is the connections between the stairs, however, that make the figure impossible in real life.

The staircases appear to connect at right angles to form a circuit; yet, a person could seemingly ascend or descend the stairs forever without getting any higher or lower.

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The Penrose stairs were developed by Lionel Penrose, a psychiatrist, and his son Roger Penrose, a mathematician, in 1959. The pair are also responsible for the Penrose or impossible triangle, on which the impossible stairs are based.

The impossible stairs feature prominently in the work of artist M.C. Escher, including the lithographs Ascending and Descending and Waterfall. Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvard employed similar impossible objects.

Would you like to draw impossible stairs? This easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial is here to help. All you will need is a pencil, pen, or marker and a sheet of paper. You may also wish to shade your finished drawing. Now, it's time to get to stepping.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Watering Can, Kite, and Spaghetti.

​Step by Step Instructions for Drawing​ Impossible Stairs

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 1
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 01

1. Begin by drawing three connected straight lines, one vertical and the remaining lines diagonal. Notice that the lines vary in length. These lines outline the base of the impossible stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 2
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 02

2. Draw straight vertical lines of different lengths from the corner and end of the lines. These form the sides of the walls comprising the stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 3
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 03

3. Draw a series of short, connected, straight lines. The lines should be arranged in a zigzag pattern, forming the edge of the stairs and connecting two form the vertical lines.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 4
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 04

4. Draw a second set of connected straight lines, forming a zigzag pattern, to connect the remaining vertical lines. This forms the edge of another side of the stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 5
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 05

5. Draw diagonal straight lines extending from the points of the first zigzag line. These short lines should be parallel to one another. Then, connect these lines to one another using short straight lines. This forms the first set of three-dimensional stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 6
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 06

6. Extend short straight lines on the opposite diagonal from the points of the second zigzag line. The lines should be parallel to one another. Then, connect the end of each line to the line beside it using short straight lines. Notice that each successive stair is attached to the approximate midpoint of the stair before it.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 7
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 07

7. From the base of the second set of stairs, extend a zigzag line upward on a diagonal slant. Use two short straight lines to connect it to the top of the first set of stairs. This outlines the interior edges of the far sets of stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 8
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 08

8. Draw short straight lines extending at a diagonal angle from the third zigzag line. The lines should be parallel to one another. Then, connect each line to the line before it using short straight lines. This forms the third set of stairs.

Impossible Stairs drawing - step 9
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 09

9. Extend short straight lines from the points of the remaining zigzag line. Connect these using straight lines, forming the final set of stairs.

Complete Impossible Stairs drawing
How to Draw an Impossible Stair Step 10

10. Color your impossible stairs, shading them as pictured in our example in order to enhance the three dimensional nature of the optical illusion.

Check out our man-made objects drawing guides for more impossible objects, including an impossible square, impossible cube, and impossible heart.

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The Complete Impossible Stairs Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to draw: Impossible Stairs - all drawing steps
How to Draw Impossible Stairs Step by Step Tutorial

Printable Drawing Tutorial

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