Build a real-life Escher’s Waterfall

Instructables user [GuokrDIY] has provided a translation of a detailed guide on making one of our favorite Escher inspired illusions. Unlike the previous speculated solutions to Escher’s waterfall this one manages to keep the water path coherent up until the top level. The trick of the whole setup is very carefully controlling perspective to overlap the water source and outlet.  We say water but for some reason the builder is actually using “toilet detergents” as the liquid… At any rate, the liquid is allowed to flow downhill until it reaches the fourth corner, which does not exist. The liquid actually falls off the end of the table (out of sight) and into a basin. A carefully timed pump in the basin pushes liquid up to the top of the waterfall through one of the model’s pillars, where it then cascades over the wheel.

Using sketchup to model the various structural components of the waterfall the design is fashioned out of PVC and ABS plastic, then skinned with mapped textures to ensure that everything looks coherent. The visual details are fine tuned by viewing the whole setup through a camcorder.  The hardest part of the illusion seems to be modulating power to the pump in order to time it with the liquid’s flow.

We just hope that thing about toilet detergent was a mistranslation or some kind of sarcasm from the original Chinese article.  Check out the model in action after the jump!

16 thoughts on “Build a real-life Escher’s Waterfall

  1. That is excellent! I’m super glad to hear that he used a carefully timed pump because that means that his illusion is technically sustainable. All that would need to happen is that the water in the basin would be the source for the pump and it would look completely perpetual.

    I guess the only thing I would have done if I were this guy is try and get the flows to match up more completely and get the lighting on the last corner more even. It looks absurd in the original, but a million floodlights were there for a reason!

  2. And sorry for the double post but I wanted to say that I don’t sound as blown away by this as I am in the first post: THIS IS AWESOME. Nice work making it match the original!

  3. Wow this is simply amazing. I wish they showed a 360* view of the structure so you could see the actual construction.

  4. They’re using toilet boil cleaner simply because it is a distinctive blue color so it’s much easier to see on the video of the illusion. Think about it, if you poured regular water you most likely wouldn’t even see it on the video until the waterfall.

    Also, if you watch the “behind the scenes” video on the instructables you can get a better idea of the 360 degree view and what it looks like from behind.

  5. what’s wrong with water+food coloring? i can make a “distinctive blue” color with that, and it’s a lot less hazardous.

  6. This is awesome. Look at the stains on the floor of the reveal shoot. Shows the amount of time, effort and frustration that has gone into this. I like the reality as much as the illusion.

  7. you may be better off using food coloring to color normal water .

    toilet cleaner may work but if there are children near it could be a poison problem and colored water would be perfectly safe.

    if the model is going to be placed out of reach of children then toilet cleaner may be ok

  8. Reminds me of the advert in Popular Science.
    Basement toilet flushes up to overhead sewer or septic tank.
    OR or just a bathroom, toilet roll is clue.
    Japanese toilets high tech so cleaner is probably not very nasty. It could even be the airline and RV stuff just disinfectant.

  9. This was done in a country where they regularly manufacture children’s products containing industrial toxins… They probably just slap a nipple on a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner and hand it to the baby when they get hungry.

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