Part of complete coverage on
Wildly detailed drawings that combine math and butterflies
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
Rafael Araujo creates hyper-detailed drawings of nature using principles of geometry.
The science of art
A master of geometry
A structure emerges
Constructing the image
Order in complexity
Symmetry of nature
Beauty of precision
Attention to detail
Science of art
- Rafael Araujo creates stunning geometrical illustrations
- He uses trigonometry and dot sequences to create da Vinci-esque drawings
- Each illustration takes him more than 100 hours to complete
(Wired) -- Rafael Araujo's illustrations are bewilderingly complex - so complex that you might assume the artist uses a computer to render the exacting angles and three-dimensional illusions. And true, if you were to recreate his intricate mathematical illustrations using software, it probably wouldn't take you long at all. But the craziest part of all is that Araujo doesn't use modern technology to create his intricately drawn Calculations series - unless, of course, you count a ruler and protractor.
Read more: Mind-blowing portraits made of test tubes and pushpins
The Venezuelan artist crafts his illustrations using same skills you and I learned in our 10th grade geometry class. Only instead of stashing those homework assignments deep into the locker of his brain, Araujo uses these concepts to create his da Vinci-esque drawings. In Araujo's work, butterflies take flight amidst a web of lines and helixes, a shell is born from a conical spiral, and the mathematical complexity of nature begins to make sense.
Rafael Araujo creates remarkable drawings, like this shell, using principles of geometgry.
Courtesy Rafael Araujo
He says perspective and angles have always come naturally to him. "When I was young I began drawing perspective almost out of the blue," he recalls. "I loved three-dimensional drawings and liked to find out ways to locate dots in the space." Before computer-assisted drawing, there were artists like M.C. Escher, who Araujo counts among his biggest influences. "When I first saw M.C. Escher, I was speechless," he says. "His artwork was so akin to my geometrical taste."
Read more: Origami - perfect blend of math and art
Working on an old drafting table, Araujo began drawing his own perspective illustrations, eyeballing the trigonometry to plot dot sequences that would allow him to create curved shapes like double helixes and cones. If you look closely at Araujo's drawings, you'll notice each of the main shapes sits within a line-drawn square or rectangle - he began adding this to his works after realizing these scaffolding boxes created a more reliable way to correctly position the dots. "There is naturally a learning curve," he says. "And as problems are solved, you become more adept and, again, daring."
Painting is very similar to cooking. You've got to be always careful!
As Araujo became more confident in his skills, he began adding ink-drawn butterflies, insects and shells to the canvas and painting them with acrylic in order to add visual complexity to his work. Each illustration takes him upwards of 100 hours, and that's if he doesn't mess up. "Painting is very similar to cooking," he says. "You've got to be always careful!"
Read more: These shimmering LED installations transport you to an alternate universe
Even with the added embellishments, his work is restrained and exacting. But that scientific honesty is also what makes his illustrations so visually compelling. Scientists and mathematicians often say there's a comfort in their work because they know there's always a right and wrong answer. It's the same with Araujo's art.
There's little gray area to be debated when it comes to angles and lines, and somehow that reliability and predictability translates into something beautiful. "I love Pollock, and enjoy very much casting paint onto a canvas without rules," he says. "But you've got to make it to appear, if not "beautiful," well done, and that is difficult."
Read more from WIRED:
Swirling Time-Lapse Nudes Capture the Allure of Bodies in Motion
How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet
Ghostly Photos Reveal Subzero Shortcuts Through Post-Soviet Cities
Cyanide Mixed With Photoshop Creates an Insomniac's Nightmare Fantasy
Subscribe to WIRED magazine for less than $1 an issue and get a FREE GIFT! Click here!
Copyright 2011 Wired.com.
Part of complete coverage on
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1323 GMT (2123 HKT)
Despite the dominance of digital tools, a new wave of artists are using paper to make mind-blowing art.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1037 GMT (1837 HKT)
Glowing trees and carnivorous tables? Why creepiness is the secret to sustainability.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Matthew Malkiewicz takes beautiful photos of historic steam trains whose nostalgic romance transports you to a bygone era.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)
Imagine watching the northern lights through the transparent roof of your own glass igloo. CNN takes a look at the most awe-inspiring hideouts.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
Photographer Romain Jacquet-Lagrѐze captures the giant skyscrapers swamping Hong Kong
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0439 GMT (1239 HKT)
It's largely devoid of human life -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Beauty with purpose - these impressive clocks stun with their intricacy, history and grandeur.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 0722 GMT (1522 HKT)
Opening in December 2016, The Krystall Hotel might melt hearts as guests check into this giant floating snowflake
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1337 GMT (2137 HKT)
Wim Noorduin, a Harvard scientist, creates delicate micro-sculptures of flowers using a chemical reaction.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Designer Justin Plunkett layers photos and computer-generated illustration to create Mad Max-like images of post-apocalyptic architecture.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
CNN went to the International Talent Support contest in Trieste, Italy, to find out who will be the next big name in fashion design.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Patrycja Makowska's enigmatic images show crumbling palaces with ornate ballrooms, swirling staircases, and grand rooms strewn with rubble.
Today's five most popular stories