1. ## Ellipses and circles

ellipses and circles have been my bane recently. It's one thing to make a *circuluar* object or shape, it's another thing entirely to freehand a perfectly circular (say, a clockwork gear), let alone with accurate foreshortening.

Does anyone have any tips for working with these elusive creatures? Clearly, if I was working in photoshop, this would be less of an issue, but I'm doing my pieces freehand pencil and ink.

The biggest problem I'm facing is that, when dealing with shapes that demand some kind of precision in concept, the slightest error (say, a slight flattening of an arc or vague misalignment of a spoke) is glaringly obvious. Somehow, I have this idea that there's a cheat that freehand draftsfolk who are not robots use, sort of like guitarists who tune their guitars between keys, if that makes any sense.

...or should I just dig up my protractor and compass from high school, gods knows from where...

Included are the two guilty parties.

2. Simple solution..don't do it freehand. Get Google Sketchup and make a simple gear in perspective. If you want to learn to draw it yourself, just copy your mockup a few times until you understand the shape in that perspective.

3. get some elipse templates

4. String and pushpins work really well, see how here

5. Originally Posted by RyerOrdStar
Simple solution..don't do it freehand. Get Google Sketchup and make a simple gear in perspective. If you want to learn to draw it yourself, just copy your mockup a few times until you understand the shape in that perspective.
An obvious solution to a simple problem. Thanks. I have sketchup, I've used it before, it just completely slipped my mind.

dpaint:

Magic. I'll have to remember that, though I suspect it'd work a lot better for larger pieces.

6. You could also try a flexible ruler.

7. Take several pieces of cardboard, and cut them into squares of different sizes. On each square, draw a horizontal and vertical center line, and the two diagonals. Then inscribe a circle in each square. Randomly scatter them about, then draw them from observation. Repeat etc etc etc. Doing this will train your visual memory for perspective, and teach you how a square and circle in perspective (ellipse) relate to each other.

8. And, if you need to draw a perfect circle, use a compass, that's what it's for. You can always redraw it freehand if you don't want an overly perfect, mechanical look (same goes for straight lines and rulers, btw).

9. Originally Posted by Elwell
Take several pieces of cardboard, and cut them into squares of different sizes. On each square, draw a horizontal and vertical center line, and the two diagonals. Then inscribe a circle in each square. Randomly scatter them about, then draw them from observation. Repeat etc etc etc. Doing this will train your visual memory for perspective, and teach you how a square and circle in perspective (ellipse) relate to each other.
That's another awesome, simple solution. I tried to brute force the square to circle method in my drawings, but it was clear that I couldn't figure out how the arcs deformed with the foreshortening. I thought of stupid things like getting a bracelet and dangling it in front of me on a string or something, but that seemed tiresome and, well... string rotates.

Thank you thank you.

10. Doug Chiang just uses ellipse guides for his concept art, but I'm not sure if that would fit every need with illustration. However, this might help with the perspective of gears and clocks, etc.

(These pages are from "Perspective Drawing" by Ernest Norling.)
http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1295316184

http://conceptart.org/forums/attachm...1&d=1295316212
Last edited by manlybrian; February 1st, 2011 at 05:07 AM.

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Ellipses are the bane of mechanical drawing for me. I'm reliant on templates for that sort of thing. Trying to freehand them within a constrained square in perspective just gets too messy.

12. Jester Level 7 Gladiator: Samnite
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Toronto, Ontario
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Apart from all of the tools mentioned, it is just a matter of practice. In order to improve, you must train your muscle memory, which is done by moving slowly. Practice drawing circles, ellipses and other animals as slowly as you can.

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