This Is Why You Can’t Draw a Perfect Circle

If you were to take out a piece of paper right now and try to draw a perfect circle, you’d fail. Though you may come close, drawing a perfect circle is seriously one of the hardest things you can. So hard, in fact, that there’s an entire competition built around it. So what’s going on here?

The act of drawing a perfect circle is a lot more complex than you think, because it requires your elbow and shoulder to work in perfect, independent harmony. This task is incredibly hard because your elbow is usually passive to your shoulder, which means that your shoulder movements typically dictate how your elbow moves. So, in order to draw a perfect circle, your brain has to coordinate a lot more than it’s used to. Also, research has shown that circle drawings actually deteriorate quickly because our minds start to forget about keeping our elbows in check.

In fact, our brains are actually hardwired to detect imperfect circles. Long ago, our ancestors needed the ability to distinguish things that were safe to eat and things that would have killed them. Over time, our eyes and minds gained the unique ability to find minuscule imperfections in mushrooms, plants and fruits. This ability, which isn’t as useful today, means that we can spot a perfect circle with a ridiculous amount of accuracy. However, it also means that we can’t ignore our drawing mistakes. So, our minds can accuracy decipher a level of perfection that our bodies are not able to physically create (the irony!!!!).

Though it seems like the world is against us, some artists have indeed created perfect circles. Researchers believe this is a skill that takes a complete mastery, though, which is something most of us do not have. One of the best perfect circle stories comes from the 14th century when Pope Benedict wanted to find the best artist in the land. After surveying many artists in the area, the Pope’s team came across Giotto di Bondone, an artist and painter. While many of the artists visited by the team gave them elaborate works to take back to the Pope, Giotto drew a perfect circle and handed it to the team. Baffled, they presented it to Pope Benedict who, knowing how difficult it was, crowned him the best artist of all.

The sad news is, most of us are not Giotto. Instead, you are destined for a life of imperfect circles that are brains literally cannot ignore.