A Good way to Observe Ellipses

Ellipses can be one of the most challenging parts of sketching. Not only is getting the right degree and perspective tough, but getting a smooth consistent line is a whole other story.

Fortunately JESTER, one of our awesome users in the forums came up with a neat way to show how ellipses work. By simply finding a clear or transparent cylindrical object and applying some tape along the cross-section at evenly spaced intervals, it’s easy to see how ellipses work and behave at varying viewpoints. It’s a pretty effective way to remind yourself how they look in perspective when you’re trying to sketch that sick design full of ellipses.

Here are a couple other resources on the site as well for you to check out. Of course, you can always email me – spencer [at] idsketching [dot] com for help or questions. I may not get back immediately, but I usually do get back.

The Sketch Lab

Some Ellipse Basics

Primitive Combinations

  • sven

    simple, yet very effective. would be good to have one of these always on my desk.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HELCKFQDKAMHYH3L2VH3E2ROQY them

    Or maybe invest in a clear Slinky toy! :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2E46AB4WBHKJVOIVHN36J6XBWE –RICOCHET–

      I think a Slinky would just corkscrew down. It wouldn’t make ellipses.

      • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/HELCKFQDKAMHYH3L2VH3E2ROQY them

        True…. didn’t think about that. Good catch!

  • Diogocarvalho

    Hey Spencer, I have been reading your blog for quite some time but it’s the first I am posting. I am fresh industrial designer that just came out of school (politecnico di Milano) and like most of my colleagues, we were pursuing car design careers. The thing is that I love drawing and sketching, and I found another brand of business that is giving me the same pleasure of sketching, plus an impressive level of creative freedom which is furniture design (limited edition pieces). There are no countless departments analyzing and removing details of our creations.. but, enough speaking, here is the video one of my works! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDwLeiwJ72k&feature=youtu.be&a , in case you enjoy it, you can see more pieces here: http://www.bocadolobo.com/le/

    There is hope besides car design! eheh

    Keep up the good work

  • amiria_gale

    Hey there,
    My name is Amiria – I write a blog to help high school art students gain excellent grades. I have just written a post about observational drawing (http://www.amiria.co.nz/artist/realistic-observational-drawings/) in which I have used the ellipse diagram above. I have credited you as the source and linked back to this page for students who wish to seek more information.
    Please let me know if you are happy with this usage – if not, I will delete the image immediately.Thank you! :)Amiria 

    • http://www.idsketching.com snugja

      That’s fine.


  • Pingback: Perspective Ellipses | Alex Smith()

  • Joyce

    Hello! I am preparing a ‘cheat sheet’ document of sorts to help high school students draw ellipses in technical drawings and would like to reference your photo above. May I do so while giving proper credit back to this site at the bottom of the image?

    Please let me know! Thank you. – Joyce