Penrose Stairs / Endless Staircase Printable Optical Illusions

Endless StaircaseThe Penrose Stairs, also known as the endless staircase, is one of my favorite optical illusions. In this post, I wanted to share my own versions of the famous never-ending stairs. I created these impossible objects using Adobe Illustrator and an isometric grid. If you’d like to use any of these illustrations for your personal or educational projects, you’re welcome to do so, but please don’t use them for commercial use.  I’ve also included a Penrose Staircase printable puzzle activity.  Cut out the shapes and piece them together to make the endless stairs.

Penrose Stairs Optical Illusion

Penrose Stairs
This was the first version of the Penrose Staircase I created in Illustrator. I first turned one of the cubes into an Illustrator symbol, and then built several isometric shapes from that. Click on the image to open a larger version. Jpeg Format.

Endless Staircase Optical Illusion
For this endless staircase, I traced over the previous drawing. Then I added a thick stroke around the object to make it pop out. Jpeg Format.
Penrose Stairs
The third stylization of the Penrose Steps. For this version of the optical illusion, I got rid of the outlining strokes entirely, and used only shades of yellow to show depth. This gives the image a very clean look. Jpeg Format.


Penrose Staircase Puzzle
Here’s a tricky little puzzle I created. Cut out the pieces and see if you can recreate the impossible staircase. The pieces are allowed to overlap, but only as they naturally would in 3D space. I suggest trying to figure out each individual wall before putting the four walls together. Jpeg Format.

About Lionel Penrose and the Penrose Stairs

Lionel Penrose was a British Psychiatrist and mathematician. Penrose created the Penrose Stairs with his son Roger in the 1950s. They had been inspired to create their own “impossible objects” after seeing the work of M.C. Escher. While Escher had created other optical illusions, he had not yet created an endless staircase. When he learned about the Penroses’ creation, he incorporated it into the artwork titled, “Ascending and Descending.”

A variation of the Penrose Stairs is the Penrose Triangle.

Source: Wikipedia: Penrose Stairs, Wikipedia: Lionel Penrose.


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