# Thread: Going around in 'circles' here.

1. Urban Legend Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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## Going around in 'circles' here.

Sorry for the pun but I couldn't help it.
Nyhooo I won't blabber anymore(I've habit of doing that) and get straight to the point. I am following Scott Robertson's basic perspective tutorial to get started and posted a couple of things in my sketchbook. Now nearly half way through (I am taking things slow, understanding one thing at a time, again refer to a post of mine in my sketchbook) I come across the topic of ellipses and circles and the problem they present to n00bs in general. My problem is more or less generic but I still wanted to ask around if someone could give me some pointers.
How do you control the degree and size of an ellipse without going over it again and again?
I would really really detest using an ellipse template since I want to draw free hand and not depend too much on rulers, ellipse/circle templates in general.
So.... are there any pointers available to be thrown in my direction except "draw pages and pages of ellipses", since I am already doing that(drawing two lines meeting at the VP and drawing ellipses in between those lines, doing the same but with parallel lines and just filling the page with random circles.).
Last edited by Baron Flame; December 12th, 2012 at 03:22 AM.

2. I know 'draw pages and pages of ellipses' is useless advice so I'm going to elaborate on it a bit.

Instead of mindlessly drawing ellipses because Scott Robertson told you to, you have to engage your brain to all the different elements that make the ellipses the shapes and proportion that it is. You need to be simultaneously thinking about:

1. The inherent shape of the ellipse
2. The perspective plane from which it is being viewed, whether it's a high angle elipse or low, try and visualize the 3D space the ellipse resides in before you even put your pencil down
3. Coordinating your hand and your brain to get the actual line that you want (And here it's probably better to put more work into the straight lines)
4. Following from 3, Don't go over your lines again and again. If it's the Scott Robertson video I'm thinking of, he says a thicker line has more weight and draw's the viewers eye to your mistakes. Think about a stroke, draw it, and move onto the next.
5. Be intentional - don't just draw for the sake of drawing, draw with intent and purpose.

So instead of just 'draw pages nd pages of ellipses', think more 'fill pages and pages with you practicing your mark making, hand eye coordination, precision and intentionality. The nice ellipses will follow. Random circles isn't going to help you get better at all. Well-executed circles will. Focus on executing them precisely.

Also, post some examples of your ellipses to help us sort out more specific things you're doing. You could be making mistakes you can't even see just yet.

3. Urban Legend Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by Beeston
I know 'draw pages and pages of ellipses' is useless advice so I'm going to elaborate on it a bit.

Instead of mindlessly drawing ellipses because Scott Robertson told you to, you have to engage your brain to all the different elements that make the ellipses the shapes and proportion that it is. You need to be simultaneously thinking about:

1. The inherent shape of the ellipse
2. The perspective plane from which it is being viewed, whether it's a high angle elipse or low, try and visualize the 3D space the ellipse resides in before you even put your pencil down
3. Coordinating your hand and your brain to get the actual line that you want (And here it's probably better to put more work into the straight lines)
4. Following from 3, Don't go over your lines again and again. If it's the Scott Robertson video I'm thinking of, he says a thicker line has more weight and draw's the viewers eye to your mistakes. Think about a stroke, draw it, and move onto the next.
5. Be intentional - don't just draw for the sake of drawing, draw with intent and purpose.

So instead of just 'draw pages nd pages of ellipses', think more 'fill pages and pages with you practicing your mark making, hand eye coordination, precision and intentionality. The nice ellipses will follow. Random circles isn't going to help you get better at all. Well-executed circles will. Focus on executing them precisely.

Also, post some examples of your ellipses to help us sort out more specific things you're doing. You could be making mistakes you can't even see just yet.
Thank you so much.

I admit that I was doing zombie ellipse drawing(I do believe that I've invented a new term here ) earlier but for the last day I've been focusing on a little bit of what you've advised but not that much. I've tried to place some ellipses into some of the planes I put in 1 point perspectives but I kinda got frustrated after a couple of tries and went back to the above mentioned zombie-drawing.
Usually I do warm up with a couple of pages of straight lines, accelerating curves, circles and ellipses but since I do it every time as nothing more than a simple warm up exercise I never really thought of posting it in my sketchbook. Guess I will the next time I get some time at home(at work right now, graveyard hours and I forgot my sketchbook and the bundle of empty pages I carry around )

4. there is nothing wrong with drawing a grid in perspective to help you draw ellipses until you get comfortable enough to draw without the grid. With a grid you can draw the quadrants of the ellipse more carefully.

5. Jester Level 7 Gladiator: Samnite
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Draw pages and pages of ellipses No, really, study the construction of ellipses in perspective, study ellipses in the real world, and study freehand ellipses. For the latter, do 'm as slowly as you can, and that is a lot slower than you think. You need to train muscle memory, and for this, move slooooooowly. This can be frustrating, since you will feel each and every imperfection, every weakness, but in the long run, it really helps to improve...

6. Urban Legend Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by dpaint
there is nothing wrong with drawing a grid in perspective to help you draw ellipses until you get comfortable enough to draw without the grid. With a grid you can draw the quadrants of the ellipse more carefully.
Will definitely do that. Thank you.

Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl
Draw pages and pages of ellipses No, really, study the construction of ellipses in perspective, study ellipses in the real world, and study freehand ellipses. For the latter, do 'm as slowly as you can, and that is a lot slower than you think. You need to train muscle memory, and for this, move slooooooowly. This can be frustrating, since you will feel each and every imperfection, every weakness, but in the long run, it really helps to improve...
I see. I know that going really slowly or just slowly for that matter makes my line look like one straight out of a heart rate monitor.
It's for the same reason that whenever I am practicing straight lines during my warm up exercises or just drawing in general I am rather quick.
I don't know if it effects my accuracy(specially when I connecting two defined points) but like i said, I do it so that I may not end up with a wobbly line.
And just out of curiosity, is drawing slowly a better way of developing muscle memory or is it just the same as drawing quick ?

7. Jester Level 7 Gladiator: Samnite
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Originally Posted by Baron Flame
I see. I know that going really slowly or just slowly for that matter makes my line look like one straight out of a heart rate monitor.
It's for the same reason that whenever I am practicing straight lines during my warm up exercises or just drawing in general I am rather quick.
I don't know if it effects my accuracy(specially when I connecting two defined points) but like i said, I do it so that I may not end up with a wobbly line.
And just out of curiosity, is drawing slowly a better way of developing muscle memory or is it just the same as drawing quick ?
There is a difference between warming up, performing and improving. When warming up, do anything that brings you in the mood, physically and psychologically. When performing, do whatever what works best for you, which will usually be working fast, for lines and ellipses. When improving, work slowly, which is really the best way to develop muscle memory. It can be torture, because it confronts you with your weaknesses, while you are skipping them if you're warming up or performing.

Give it a try. Draw ellipses and circles, 10 minutes a day, as slowly as you can, paying attention to correct pencil grip, body posture, working from shoulder and, maybe, elbow: it is okay to spend 1 minute on each. Work on your easel, or in your sketchbook, whatever you want. Feel the ellipse, do it in one go, without going back, construction or erasing. Do a couple with your eyes closed. Do a couple as target practice, trying to fit them into a rectangle.

All I'm asking of you is 70 minutes of your life: if it does nothing for you, then come back here and tell me I am an idiot who wasted your time, and never look back. It is okay.

8. Urban Legend Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl
There is a difference between warming up, performing and improving. When warming up, do anything that brings you in the mood, physically and psychologically. When performing, do whatever what works best for you, which will usually be working fast, for lines and ellipses. When improving, work slowly, which is really the best way to develop muscle memory. It can be torture, because it confronts you with your weaknesses, while you are skipping them if you're warming up or performing.

Give it a try. Draw ellipses and circles, 10 minutes a day, as slowly as you can, paying attention to correct pencil grip, body posture, working from shoulder and, maybe, elbow: it is okay to spend 1 minute on each. Work on your easel, or in your sketchbook, whatever you want. Feel the ellipse, do it in one go, without going back, construction or erasing. Do a couple with your eyes closed. Do a couple as target practice, trying to fit them into a rectangle.

All I'm asking of you is 70 minutes of your life: if it does nothing for you, then come back here and tell me I am an idiot who wasted your time, and never look back. It is okay.
I never meant it in an offensive way, I was just curious. And I wouldn't consider any time spent on practice, slow or not, to be wasted. I've already started to slow down when it comes to straight lines but the ellipses are proving to be a pain in the ass because 50% of the time I am not accurate enough to close it. I rarely use an eraser, I feel that having an eraser makes you more prone to making mistakes since you have no fear of messing things up.

Thank you for taking out the time to help me, I really do appreciate it. I'll post some scans/photo updates in my sketchbook as soon as I get some time(overtime this week, didn't really get a chance to cut lose and relax).

9. Drawing slowly doesn't help you draw fast. Drawing fast helps you draw fast. Usually to learn to draw fast you start slow and intentionally increase your speed to where you want it to be. There will always be some trade off between fast and slow, each creates a type of mark that has a beneficial side and a detrimental side to them. Learning when to go fast and when to slow down is most of the battle.

10. Yeah, sorry but I would offer very different advice. I think you do want to practice page after page of ellipses...fast and fluid. To develop your ability to "sketch freehand" you should be aware that drawing lightly, practicing strokes before touching paper, light construction lines are all part of the process. I teach drawing ellipses by making many series of "elliptical motions" or strokes...drawing lightly on the page at first then refining and emphasizing/darkening the "core/accurate" ellipse that develops. Same with circles. Eventually you require less and less of the "sketch cloud" effect and the more you practice this approach the more quickly you can lay in a quick, accurate ellipse that has some energy and life.

11. Urban Legend Level 1 Gladiator: Andabatae
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Originally Posted by JeffX99
Yeah, sorry but I would offer very different advice. I think you do want to practice page after page of ellipses...fast and fluid. To develop your ability to "sketch freehand" you should be aware that drawing lightly, practicing strokes before touching paper, light construction lines are all part of the process. I teach drawing ellipses by making many series of "elliptical motions" or strokes...drawing lightly on the page at first then refining and emphasizing/darkening the "core/accurate" ellipse that develops. Same with circles. Eventually you require less and less of the "sketch cloud" effect and the more you practice this approach the more quickly you can lay in a quick, accurate ellipse that has some energy and life.
Thank you for taking the time to answer. I apologize for the late reply, I had a rather busy week with working overtime and stuff. Barely had enough time to do some warm up exercises. Nyhoo I do 'ghost' over a spot before I eventually take a shot at a circle or even a line for that matter. It gives me a general idea as to where and how the line goes.
Like I said earlier, I used to fill pages and pages of circles and ellipses, the only problem being that when I was just filling the pages with one circle/ellipse after another, it used to be very hard for me to control the degree for some reason. The sketch cloud effect was and still persists when I try my hand at ellipses because I find it really hard to nail down a perfect shape in the first go but as I try to draw over the same shape again my line deviates at some point and makes it appear like a second ellipse.

I guess that both fast and slow have their pros and cons like dpaint stated. I am probably going to try both as to see which one I am comfortable with and hopefully trying out both won't confuse me further :p. I'll post some scans/photos as soon as I get some time off.
Cheers.

12. I normally fill tons of ellipses on my pages normally horizontal ellipses. I just though I might share that in the beginning I used have poor control over the size of ellipse but I am now starting to draw them really quickly without effort and even make the to ends connect. Now when I attempt to do do ellipses vertically I am back to square one with this so I guess it is mostly in practice and conditioning your muscle memory or whatever it is that stores this information to be able to draw ellipses perfectly. I also noticed that during a warm-up I would int the beginning get those ellipses out of sync(two ends don't meet) but after a couple of attempts it gets in sync and I could draw them perfectly.I guess to get the most out of the practice is to think about each ellipse you draw(you can draw it slow or fast though) instead of mindlessly and recklessly drawing it.

I hope this information from my personal experience might have been useful someway, somehow.

13. Well... I'd say that it's really not so important that an ellipse looks pretty or perfect like it often does in the books, only that it functions correctly in perspective. If it's really bothering you though, all I can recommend is to draw slowly, carefully, control your breathing, and draw from the shoulder. Nobody, not even the masters, finds it easy. It requires a lot of high precision and control which comes from years of practice, so keep at it.

14. Vaguely related.

I'm lefthanded so I hate drawing ellipses that angle towards the top right/bottom left corner of the page. I can do them, I just have to think about them a bit harder because my hand naturally wants to angle everything towards the top left/bottom right corner.

15. Yep...the horizontal ellipse tends to be much easier to draw - the sideways motion tends to have more control than the vertical. Solution: turn the paper as necessary to draw ellipses in whatever orientation is required. If the paper can't be turned...just have to tough it out.

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