Da Vinci's Creation

Welcome to The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition

The Exhibition is a world class display of some of the inventions and designs of the great Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci, who was perhaps the most diversely talented person in history.

Da Vinci was born in Vinci, near Florence, in 1452 and became one of the most celebrated artists of all time. We know him as the painter of such great works Mona Lisa and The Last Supper; but he is less well known for his outstanding achievements as an inventor, designer and engineer.

The Da Vinci Machines presents lovingly crafted models made by a group known as The Artisans of Florence to bring to life some of Da Vinci’s designs and inventions in many different fields including: flight, warfare, hydraulics, civil, military and industrial engineering and transportation.

These models are crafted in materials that would have been available in the 15th century and their scale and dimensions are faithful to the original da Vinci designs.

Some of the exhibits can be gently handled, others should not be touched, and we ask that you respect this.

The Da Vinci machines have also been modelled in 3D graphics and can be viewed as working demonstrations on the PC in the exhibition. In addition the exhibition features a recent 50 min documentary on the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. (Both of these DVDs are for sale in the Da Vinvi shop)

We hope you can enjoy this wonderful exhibition, which is brought to you by the Ficino Educational Trust.

Air Screw

This is certainly one of Leonardo’s most famous designs since in it one recognises an ancestor of the helicopter. This craft made of reeds, linen and iron thread would have been operated by four men who, by rotating a shaft, could lift themselves off the ground. It is clear that the mechanism so conceived could never have taken off, but the idea remains that with the force of an adequate motor, the machine would actually have spun itself into the ar and off the earth.


Leonardo showed his great talent with this machine. He created not only the flying machines, but also the instruments to control flight. One of these instruments is the anemometer which measures the power of the wind. In its simplicity it is just a graduated stick with a hanging blade which is moved by the wind.

Annunciation, The

In this Annunciation, Leonardo, no doubt under instruction from his master Verrochio, has used a formal arrangement of the Virgin Mary sitting to the right of the picture, approached from the left by an angel in profile with rich flowing garment and raised wings. The angel holds a lily, a symbol of Mary’s virginity and of the city of Florence. It is supposed that Leonardo originally copied the wings from those of a bird in flight. A closer look at the flowers bed just in front of the angel reveals the effects of air drafts caused by vigorous flapping of wings, while at the back the lawn is undisturbed. Unlike the usual traditional depiction of this subject, Mary is not submissive. The beautiful girl, interrupted in her reading by this unexpected messenger, puts a finger in her bible to mark the place and raises her hand in a formal gesture of greeting or surprise. This calm young woman appears to accept her role as the Mother of God not with resignation but with confidence. Art critics have seen in this early painting by Leonardo’s errors in perspectives, even scornfully referring to is as the three legged mary.

Archimedes Screw

This machine for lifting water certainly cannot be considered an innovation. It seems that it was known as far back as ancient Egyptian times and was later studies in the Greek world by Archimedes. In the Renaissance all engineers were familiar with it and put it to use on a regular basis. Leonardo drew a great and varied number of them, often adding ingenious improvements.

Assault Mobile Ladder

This project is very interesting due to its composition of removable parts connected to a toothed wheel-worm screw mechanism that allows the raising and lowering of a stairway. A moving stairway would be more difficult for defenders of a city wall to push away.

Assault Techniques

Leonardo invented many attack and defence systems. Here we see a man climbing a wall using “alpine” techniques by driving spikes into the wall to be scaled. These techniques are still wdely used.

Autolock Device

The use of this device is essential above all in machines designed for lifting great weights. It consists of a wheel with teeth set at an acute angle and of a flat-tipped hook that engage the teeth one at a time so that the wheel cannot turn backwards.

Ball Bearings

Leonardo attempted to find ingenious techniques for reducing friction. Here eight concave-sided spindles rotating on their own axes prevent lateral movements by the balls, which can however rotate freely. The ball-and-spindle system reduces friction, allowing the top platform to turn easily even when carrying a heavy load.

Baptism of Christ, The

The painting portrays St. John the Baptist baptising Jesus by pouring water over his head The extended arms of God, the golden rays, the dove with overstretched wings, and the cruciform nimbus show that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Trinity. Two angels on the riverbank are holding Jesus’ garment. The special fame of the work is attributed to the pupil who helped him paint it. The blond angel on the left and parts of the landscape background belong to the hand of the very young Leonardo da Vinci, who was as apprentice in Verrocchio’s workshop around 1470. We are told by Vasari:”So fine was Leonardo’s angel that, on viewing Leonardo’s work Verrochio swore never to paint again”.


This is one of the many mysteries still surrounding Leonardo’s life and work. During restoration of the Codex Atlanticus, this drawing was found between two glued-in pages. The lack of detail in the drawing and the signature of Leonardo’s pupil, Salai, lead us to think that the drawing is not by Leonardo, but by his pupil, who may have copied the bicycle from a model seen in his master’s workshop.

Boat with Blades – The Scorpion

The escorpio (Scorpion) project is remarkable not only for the aggressive power of the instant drop of the large scythe but also for its manoeuvrability by means of a revolving platform. The mechanism for lifting the scythe worked by a crank and gears, and its rapid drop together with this mechanism ensure the effectiveness of the machine. The vessel is equipped to protect the rowers with strong leather-covered screens with secure entrances to lessen the effect of fire from above.

Boat with Double Hull

Another of Leonardo’s modern inventions now applied to all ships is the double hull. It is designed as a defence system to be used in maritime warfare. The double hull can prevent the boat from sinking if the outer hull is crushed.

Cam Hammer

Leonardo often made use of cams, the projection on a rotating oart which generates reciprocating motion or regular percussive motion from a rotary motion. Because of the cam, the action is regular.

Car Powered by Springs

This is one of the most famous Leonardo’s inventions. It is a self moving car propelled by a complicated mechanism powered by leaf springs (Balestre). The car system suggest that an operator would have to hand-load the leaf springs. The stored energy is transmitted to the diving wheels by means of a complex set of gears. He also incorporated a small rudder-wheel to steer the car.

Cart with Differential

The drawing shows how to transmit motion to the axle of a wagon. A crank turns the cog wheel which engages the lantern rocker linked to the wagon’s axle thus increasing its velocity. The motion is transmitted to a single wheel so when entering into a curve, it enables the other wheel at different speed. In its modern version the same function is performed by the “differential”.


This is one of the world's oldest war machines. In the Codex Atlanticus there are many drawings showing the catapults and some of the important modifications that Leonardo made to make them more powerful.


Leonardo studies many different types of flexible chains, used for transmission of continuous motion. However the square shape of the teeth and the weights hanging on them lead us to believe that they were meant to transmit discontinuous motion and in particular were conceived for release mechanisms like clocks. Chains are also used in one of the most famous machines: the bicycle.

Replicas of the Da Vinci Codices

Leonardo da Vinci dedicated himself with passion to scientific studies in anatomy, biology, mathematics and physics. His manuscripts, known as Codices, exhibit keen scientific observations and ingenuous solutions to practical problems of his time and future possibilities such as flying machiens and automation. At Leonardo’s death all his writings and sketches were inherited by his trusted assistant and scholar, Francesco Melzi. He kept and catalogued them carefully but after his death most of the work was dispersed. About a quarter of Leonardo’s manuscripts have survived have survived, most have been grouped by scholars in Codices and Manuscripts of various chronology and size.


· Codex Atlanticus 1478-1519 the largest wth 401 sheets, in the Ambrosiana Library Milan.

· Codex Trivulzianus 1487 – 1490 in Library of Castello Sforzesco, Milan

· Codex Marciano c. 1505 in the Royal Library, Turin


· Codex Arundel 1509 in the British Museum, London

· Codex Forster 1487 – 1505 in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

· Windsor Collection 1502-1513 in Windsor Castle Royal Library, London


· Manuscripts Madrid I and Madrid II 1490 – 1505 in the National Library of Madrid


· Paris Manuscripts labelled A to M 1487 – 1515 in the Institute of France Paris


· Codex Leicester (hammer) 1506-1508 owned by Bill Gates, Seattle.

Codex on Flight of Birds (1490 – 1505)

The Royal Library, Turin. This codex consists of 13 pages, out of an original 18 and was originally part of Manuscript B. This manuscript mostly analysis what Leonardo observed to build a mechanical flying machine. The mechanics of flight, air resistance and the effects of wind on the wings, as well as the birds’ flight were all described in detail.

Codex Trivultianus 1487 – 1490

The library of Castel Sforzesco, Milan. These are the earliest known manuscripts of Leonardo. The codex contains 55 manuscripts, from the original 62, in its original binding. It has architectural drawings related to the Milan Cathedral’s plans and drawings for real and imaginary portraits.

Covered Cart for a Town Wall’s Attack

Here Leonardo was inspired by ancient technology. This large siege machine is equipped with wheels and is moved by animals protected at the bottom of the structure. The upper part is connected to an armoured bridge designed to pass over moats and literally allowing attacking forces to slide over defensive walls.

Crane for Long Poles

A rope connected to a winch pulls the object horizontally from the base, considerably diminishing the need for human effort. The wheels also help by limiting the strain. The drawing and the comment should be connected with Leonardo’s interest in geometry and, in this particular case, the triangle.


This object has now become part of the public collective imagery of Leonardo da Vinci, thanks to Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code. Many people have asked documentation, drawings and information on the Cryptex.

Likewise we were also surprised and intrigued when we first heard about it, because in all our studies in the past we never noticed anything of that kind. Furthering our research we realised that Dan Brown gave as reference a Leonardo’s drawing in the French Manuscript B, folio 33 verso, that had nothing to do with the object in question. Furthermore we have found in other codices similar mechanisms but even in these cases Leonardo was referring to other themes. Therefore we have to advise the public that the Cryptex was created in the imagination of Dan Brown as is the claim that Leonardo belonged to some secret organization, there are no historical documentations or reports that indicate that. We must therefore thank Dan Brown for giving Leonardo and the Mona Lisa the role of superstar they just deserve.

Da Vinci’s Mechanical Lion

Folio 90v Codex Madrid I, Folio 296v-a [812r] Codex Atlanticus

Lost for centuries, another of Leonardo’s great inventions is the mechanical lion made to honour the arrival of King Francis I in Lyon in 1515. According to the posthumous testimonies by Vasari and Michelangelo, Leonardo’s Lion could walk and raise its front legs and open its chest revealing the King’s much loved lilies, the floral emblem of France. Unfortunately no explicit plan of the project has ever been found. For years scholars have speculated on different interpretations but none has been fully satisfactory.

Now the mystery has been solved and a working animation of da Vinci’s Mechanical Lion has been constructed.

The mechanical lion we propose is a simpler and more functional model in keeping with Leonardo’s tradition.

Wheels, well hidden inside the legs resolve several technical problems and provide stability for simulated walking and raising. The wheels and thr front legs are connected to a transmission shaft through a system of pulleys. Such a device was designed by Leonardo in Folio 90v of the Codex Madrid I.

This ensemble, when properly connected to a driving force, can provide the full three phase automation of the lion. The question arising however… What amazing programmable enginer was available to Leonardo 500 years ago?

We discovered the mysterious engine in Folio 296v-a [812r] in the Codex Atlanticus, where Leonardo depicted a self-propelling equipped with leaf springs and escapement systems often, erroneously described as Leonardo’s “Car”. In this machine the leaf springs permit the unlocking of the wheels through cams. The recharging of the leaf springs is done by the special device sketched on the left corner of Folio 296v-1 [812r] in the Codex Atlanticus – often referred to as the “Jack”.

The mechanical lion is the first automation to have a programmable mechanism able to perform different actions thanks to a perfect timing engine.

Defence of Town Walls

Among the various defence systems invented by Leonardo, this ingenious system for dislodging enemy ladders is of special interest. If the enemies managed to prop their ladders against the walls, a long rod worked by a lever would push them away.


The drawing of the breathing tube is one of Leonardo’s ideas for ways to remain under water. Even if this idea is not new, in the drawing by Leonardo it is possible to see details in which he anticipated modern solutions to the breathing apparatus.

Flapping Wing Experiment

Leonardo thought that if it was possible to lower the long lever rapidly enough, the wing would have lifted the plank mounted on it (about the weight of a man). Leonardo calculated the measurement of the wings span on the basis of his observations of birds. The correct measurement of the wings must be have been 12 metres long by 12 metres wide.

Flat Ball Bearing

A ball bearing based on the extraordinary drawing showing top and side views – that in itself was revolutionary. The structure shows 8 balls moving freely each embedded between as many spools. It is believed Leonardo designed it to allow a whole stage to rotate during the theatrical performance of Orpheus in Milan c. 1497.


One of Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest memories, as recorded in his notebooks, is a dream about a kite-bird coming to his cradle. He was inspired by nature’s achievements and compelled by the possibility of human flight. The flight of birds and bats was a source of great inspiration to Leonardo: he bought caged birds in order to release them and watch the way they moved through the air, and the mechanics of their wings.

Leonardo made a number of designs for flying machines, all based on the conviction that a machine could be powered by the activity of man, allowing it to hover in the air like a bird. The main is in some cases upright, in others lying flat, and propels the mechanism with his arms, legs and even his head, as we see in the design for the vertical machine. MANOSCRITTO B, F. 80R. It is this design that heralded our modern-day helicopter.

“The main in a flying machine [Has] to be free from the waist upward in order to be able to balance himself as he does in a boat, so that his centre of gravity and that of his machine may oscillate and change where necessity requires through a change in the centre of its resistance.”

Leonardo da Vinci SUL VOLO 6 [5] R.

We do not know if Leonardo ever successfully constructed a flying machine, however his notes reveal a special place for testing flight from one of the Sforza palaces. He also wrote instructions for necessary precautions during testing: “the machine should be tried over a lake, and you should carry a long wineskin as a girdle so that in case you fall in you will not be drowned.” MANOSCRITTO B, 74V.


After studying carefully the physical principles involved Leonardo came up with this demonstration machine. The device is able to build momentum in order to overcome inertia and thus, reduce effort.

Flying Machine

This is one of the most famous drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. It is very precise and is accompanied by useful explanations. The man lies stretched out on the platform and puts his feet in the stirrups, which raises the wing while the others lowers it.


Leonardo was the first to understand the Earth’s strata formation. He was the first to provide what we now know to be the correct scientific explanation for the existence of fossils. His discovery also explains how air and water change the earth’s surface over time. In two of his most important paintings, The Virgin of the Rocks and The Mona Lisa, we can see his geological understanding and scientific approach in the meticulously painted mountains and panoramic views. Leonardo based his theory of geological evolution on scientific evidence provided by the niche (fossils such as shells, crustaceous, gastropods, seaweeds, corals etc). during his detailed investigation of terrain and his topological study of the Alpine region north of Milan, Leonardo made accurate annotations on fish fossil and leaf fossil niche in the Codex Leister, Codex Atlanticus and Paris Manuscripts. He was the first to understand that the Alps were once submerged under the sea and then raised. This was only fully understood by the scientific community in the 1950s when the theory of Plate Tectonics gained acceptance.

Gear with a Circular Mechanism

This system for producing motion appears often in Leonardo’s machines. In order to produce rotary movement, he frequently used the cogwhell. But Leonardo also tells us that cogs wear down moving big loads, thus suggested using this ‘corkscrew’ mechanism instead.

Hydraulic Drill

The drill is powered by a horizontal hydraulic wheel. With this machine, Leonardo demonstrated a way of boring tree trunks to create tubes. He also designed “zips” to firmly connect the various modules.


This instrument serves to regulate flight. It consists of a pendulum inserted in a glass bell so as to protect it from the influence of wind. The position of the ball of the pendulum indicates the position of the craft in relation to the horizontal.


This machine is easy to understand for anyone who has tried to change the tyre. It is made from a crank, reduction gear and a rod with teethe that can move up and down.

Last Supper 1495 – 1497, The

Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie, north wall of the refectory

One of the Leonardo’s most famous painting is The Last Supper. It represents the last meal shared by Jesus with his disciples before his capture and death. It shows specifically the moment when Jesus said “one of you will betray me”. Leonardo depicts the dramatic reaction this statement caused to the twelve Apostles. Once again, Leonardo was unable to complete the painting quickly as he was troubled by the choice of characters and according to Vasari, was hounded by the monastery prior, until Leonardo used the prior as the model to depict the face of the traitor Judas, interestingly, the painting is full of symbolisms of religious and historical meanings. Judas, for example, is the more detached figure of the twelve and is spilling salt, which in Italy is regarded as a sign of bad luck. The Christ face and posture are the blend of 2 states-resignation and anger. When finished, the painting was acclaimed as a masterpiece of design and characterization. But it deteriorated rapidly and within fifty years it was already ruined. Leonardo, instead of using the reliable technique of fresco, had use tempera over a surface that was mainly gesso, and became subject to mould and to flaking. Despite this, the painting has remained one of the most reproduced artwork of all times.


The lifebuoy is one of the water instruments conceived by Leonardo. It is made of perfectly waterproof leather and it can be filled with wair in order to increase its volume and buoyancy.

Machine to lift Columns

Not all the machines designed by Leonardo were new inventions. However, in some cases, he was able to greatly improve machines that were already in existence at the time. One example is the column hoist. He perfected this machine for lifting columns on the basis of systems devised by Francesco Di Giorgio and other engineers. The mechanism is powered by the turn of a crank that sets into motion both a cart on which the column leans and a worm-screw that lifts the other end of the column.

Mirror Chamber

The study of optics was also great interest to Leonardo. Here he drew and probably built, a mirror chamber with eight sides – each with a mirror. This “machine” permits an observer to view completely and simultaneously all the sides of an object placed in it, without moving around it. We can see a hole in which the observer monitors the object in drawing.

Movable Bridge

In 1482 in a letter to Ludoviso il Moro, ruler of Milan, Leonardo boasted that he could build bridges that were extremely lightweight and strong with characteristics potentially useful during wartime. In this page, Leonardo drew two mobile bridges that could easily be assembled and rapidly disassembled. The bridge presented here is mobile at both ends permitting soldiers to cross the defensive moat of a fortress but it can be rapidly moved so the enemy cannot cross it and strike back.

Naval Cannon

Naval warfare was one of Leonardo’s areas of interest. He intended to equip special boats with revolving platforms of lines of cannons, or, as in this case, a large square mortar from which incendiary projectiles could be fired in order to sink enemy ships.

Naval Tank

This extraordinary war machine is another example of Leonardo’s creativity in his desire to impress his patrons with new forms of military strategies. Here he proposed to equip an armed boat with a new type of devastating “circular multiple bombard”, a system of 12 cannons mounted on a rotating platform. The cannons would be firing simultaneously as such to prevent the boat from shifting from its desired coarse.

Night Clock

Leonardo often amazes us with the simplicity of his demonstrations. With this very simple model Leonardo shows how it is possible to keep track of time in the darkness simply by strategically positioning a candle next to an appropriately marked rod. We can assume that, very likely, he used this model himself in the dwindling light of the evening, so prolonging the time he could spend on his studies and drawings. This Night Clock was also very useful to regulate the changing of the guard at night.

Paddle Boat

One of the problems that Leonardo tackled was how to increase the speed and navigational precision of boats. Naturally the shape of the hull had a primary importance and Leonardo used the shapes of fish as a models since they were at home in the water. He also thought of equipping some boats with large paddles that would have been worked by hand or foot cranks perhaps aided by flywheels, thus increasing the rhythm and efficiency of traditional oars. In the dynamic drawing one has a sense of the vessel’s agility (It has a tapered prow and operates on the surface of the water) as well as its manoeuvrability which is made possible by the fact that the rower faces forward.


Leonardo was always fascinated with symmetric regular multi-faces objects (Polyhedrons). This three dimensional solid is one of the many examples found in his Codices. The model is constructed by interesting three wooden solid squares in a perfectly symmetric way, thus creating an elegant and futuristic architecture. It’s reminiscent of modern style furniture or even of some daring – scientific attempts to describe the Universe as a supersymmetric entity.


This device is a simple box with a large glass lens on one side and a candle inside: this is how Leonardo made “an intense and wide light”. The principle is the same as that used in floodlights and experts believe that the design was intended for use in the theatre. The projector which we use nowadays is another application of this device.


During his Milan period, Leonardo conducted extensive studies on ways of reducing the effort necessary to lift heavy objects. He designed various types of pulleys, some simple and some extremely complex. This study, made by Leonardo, shows the way one person can lift considerably long and heavy objects without much effort. This is achieved by distributing the weight of the long object over a number of equally spaced pulleys.

Reaping Wagon

This type of reaping wagons already existed in ancient Roman times and as Leonardo mentioned would be quite destructive: “… against these vehicles, archers, men with slings, stones and guns, all kinds of darts, lances… must be used… and these will frighten the horses which unbridled will bolt in spite of their drivers…” Leonardo’s drawing shows a wagon pulled by horses with rotating scythes set in motion by an ingenious mechanism. It is connected by means of a shaft to a system of spiked wheels and lantern wheels directly linked to the movement of the wagon’s wheels.


This is one of Leonardo’s least-known designs, probably developed during his extensive studies of the human body. It is now evident that the robot is designed to open and close its jaw (which was anatomically correct), sit up, wave its arms and move its head.

Study of Perpetual Motion

Leonardo using drawings and comments proved the impossibility of perpetual motion, the subject of many discussions in his time. The instrument drawn here is built from sticks with weights attached to the ends.

Study of a Wing in one Piece

After his studies on bird anatomy, Leonardo decided to apply the same laws too his flying machines. He directed his interest towards a united wing which, like that of a bat, was supposed to have a single cloth stretched over a structure of wood and cane.

Study of Forces and Rotational Motion

A bovine pulling 9 ropes attached to a pole in front of 4 wheels representing the wheels of a cart. …”Any object struck or pulled at a distance from suo nascimento/its birthplace (fulcrum) is more easily pulled to the ground”. The tree trunk shown will be pulled to the ground by a single bull if pulled by rope 9. As a consequence Leonardo explains that it is easier to pull (or rotate) the larger wheel if it is of equal weight to the smaller ones.

In this experiment Leonardo demonstrates that the further the distance of the applied force to the fulcrum of an object (suo nascimento/its birthplace), the more easily it is rotated.

Study of the Mechanical Wing

Leonardo was not contented to put feathers on people’s arms as in Greek Mythology; he was determined to create the mechanism to give man flight. In a series of revolutionary drawings, such as the ‘Flapping Wing” and the “Mechanical Wing”, he showed details of the first prototype of a fully mechanised flying machine. In this particular study of the wing, Leonardo mimicked the birds; flapping structure with levers, pulleys and flexing of rods and ropes for tendons. These studies would lead him to the discovery of a modern day invention – the Glider.


The idea of a covered vehicle that could penetrate enemy lines, followed by soldiers, had already appeared in the Middle Ages and was enthusiastically taken up again in the 15th century. Leonardo designed a heavy vehicle shaped like a tortoise with cannons all round it and perhaps reinforced with metal plates. Some people had thought of moving it with sails, but Leonardo’s solution was a system of gears moved by cranks which were worked by eight men inside. He even thought of using horses instead of men but the risk of the animals panicking in such a tight, noisy space made him change his mind.

Three Ball Bearings

The application of this principle is still widely used today. A series of balls is placed between two moving surfaces that would otherwise rub together creating a great deal of friction, and thus, greater damage to the parts. In this instance Leonardo improved upon this principle by devising a ring-shaped track along which the balls could move without coming into contact with each other.


The greater the weight held by this lifting tong, the better and stronger it will be supported.

Trench Excavating Machine

The bucket of this digger is operated via the release of the balance weight. The large rocking half-wheel helps lift the excavating bucket and lower the balance weight. The operation is repeated until the bucket digs down into the ditch. Then the digger is hauled to a new position for excavating a new stretch.

Vertical Drill

The device is designed to move the drill up and down by means of one screw activated by men. Between the earth’s surface and the screw is a funnel, which is to prevent the soil falling on the head of the workers.

Virgin of the Rocks, The

This is a work full of artistic and legal dramas. The painting is based on a legend of the meeting between the baby Jesus and John the Baptist on the flight into Egypt. There are more than one version in the world. The first version is in the Louvre painted around 1483 – 1486. A second version had to be produced to fulfil original commission as the first version was regarded not religious enough. This second version eventually found its way to London. The painting depicts the Madonna in the centre ushering John towards Jesus who is seated with the angel Uriel. Hesus is blessing John who holds out his hands in a gesture of prayer. The London version contains attributes missing from the Louvre version, notably haloes and John’s traditional cruciform stick. These clarify the identification of the babies Jesus and John. It is generally believed that the Louvre version is the earlier work. This apinting is a perfect example of Leonardo’s “sfumato” technique. The word “Sfumato” comes from the Italian “Sfumare” which means “to tone down” or “to evapourate like smoke”. It refers to da Vinci’s fine shading and subtle transitions from light to dark giving his paintings an illusionistic atmosphere. With this technique Leonardo was able to paint the effects of light in-and-out of the cave like no other had done before.

Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man, also known by Conon of Proportions, was drawn by Leonardo around 1487. The drawing was based on the correlations between the ideal human proportions and geometry, described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. It is now stored in the Accademia, in Venice, Italy.

Leonardo pointed out the following in his drawing: spreading the legs to reduce the stature by one-fourteenth, opening and raising the arms, so that the middle fingers touch a horizontal line at the top of the head; the centre of the extremities of the outspread limbs will be the umbilicus, and the space between the legs makes an equilateral triangle. He pointed out that there were 15 set of proportions on the human body. For example, from the top of the hairline to the bottom of the chin is 1/10 of a man’s height and from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head is 1/8 of the total height.

Water Skis

It is well known that Leonardo is not the first who tried to walk on water. He was fascinated by the element and studies many mechanisms to help men dominate water. In this drawing, we find enormous skis which supposedly enabled one to walk on the water.

Worm and Worm Gear

Leonardo invented worm and worm gear: he recommended the use of this feature to prevent the wheel’s inverse rotation. By pressing on multiple cogs the force is distributed.