How to Draw an Impossible Triangle

Two Methods:Starting with an Inverted TriangleExtending a Triangle

The "rule of three", where arrangements of triplets have a pleasing effect on the eye, makes this triangle an intriguing shape to ponder and to create. It appears frequently in the art of MC Escher. It is also known as a Penrose triangle or Penrose tribar.

Method 1
Starting with an Inverted Triangle

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    Sketch an inverted equilateral triangle. This will be the center of your triangle.
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    Lightly sketch two parallel lines outside one side of the triangle. The lines should be equally spaced. Take caution that your lines are drawn straight.
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    Do this for each of the other two sides. Your sketch should look like three triangles nested together.
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    Choose one side of the "center" triangle. Extend one end of that straight line until it reaches the "middle" triangle.
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    Find the same side of the "middle" triangle. Extend one end of that straight line, in the same direction as before, until it reaches the "outside" triangle.
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    Repeat steps for the other two sides of the triangle.
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    Erase short segments so that the triangle begins to look three-dimensional rather than flat. Each edge of this "3-D" shape should look like a reverse "L".
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    Add short segments at an angle in the corners. These short segments will finish off the outside points.
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    Cleanup your drawing by erasing the points outside of the short segments drawn in the previous step.
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    Add shading if desired.

Method 2
Extending a Triangle

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    Draw a triangle and extend the ends of the lines past where they join.
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    Draw lines from these tips, extending them beyond the corners of the inner triangle.
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    Draw in the 'corners'.
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    Draw in the final long lines to connect the corners.
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    Finished.

Tips

  • After you learn this basic optical illusion, you can experiment with more complex arrangements.
  • Try to outline it with a sharpie to make it look sharp.
  • Practice shading techniques. Shading is a technique to provide depth in two-dimensional images.
  • Always sketch first because you might get it wrong also do it behind an old scrap piece of paper instead of wasting new paper.
  • Practice before you make your final copy.
  • Make sure the shading is well done to give it the wow effect.
  • A protractor might be a good idea as well.

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