Drawing ellipses is one of the basics of drawing techniques. However, I have seen many of my students struggle with drawing a basic ellipse. The ellipse’s gentle curves and its symmetry can be hard to put down freehand. Not only that, but the ellipse’s arc will shift in appearance depending upon how the vessel is viewed.
Difficulty in drawing Ellipses
|Drawing an Ellipse|
The challenge becomes ever more difficult if an object has multiple ellipses such as that seen on the thread of bottle tops or ornaments. The best thing to do is to draw the simplest ellipse shape before venturing further. My video clip on drawing the most basic ellipse shape will enable the artist to build upon this skill when more complex subject matter is tackled.
Mistakes in Drawing Ellipses
Improvements can be made in drawing when looking out for common mistakes whilst drawing an ellipse. This can also be seen in the video clip, which includes: drawing ellipses with corners, sloping ellipses, ellipses without symmetry and ellipses without depth to the rim. The secret is to plot the ellipse before drawing it. This will guard against the elliptical element turning out wrong.
Drawing Techniques for Still Life
Make sure the plotlines on which the ellipse rests is perpendicular in form and symmetrical in shape before laying down the lines. To this end, the beginner may plot a faint cross onto a piece of paper before drawing the ellipse. Make sure the cross is true to vertical and horizontal. The video slip shows how to plot the elliptical element of an object into a rectangle sketched on top of the cross. The ellipse shape itself can then be placed within the rectangle and the rectangle rubbed out. Make sure the ellipse shape rests centrally within the rectangle before going further.
The Curves of an Ellipse
The curves of the ellipse can be sketched faintly at first. Turn the drawing upside down to check if any element of the ellipse is not central or symmetrical. Bear in mind that the curves of an ellipse will alter between top, bottom and sides. Ellipses will never possess corners, regardless of how obliquely it is viewed. The curves simply become tighter in appearance. This means taking care on how the curves are drawn. Of course, the arc opens out on the top and bottom of the ellipse form.
|How not to Draw an Ellipse:|
Asymmetrically, tear-shaped, with corners & with a rim of equal depth
Sketching Techniques for Still Life Objects with Ellipses
The rim of an ellipse will have depth of some kind. Due to the foreshortening effect, the depth will appear widest to the far left and right of an ellipse. This can be seen in the video clip. Never draw the rim of an ellipse as having the same depth all round, also this is true in reality.
Once the ellipse shape is sketched in, the rest is simple. Sketch the rest of the vessel using the cross as guidance. Note that the curve at the base of the vessel (if viewed from slightly above) will appear more curved than the ellipse at the top. Never illustrate the base of a vessel with a flat bottom.
Objects with Ellipses in Drawing
The key to drawing good ellipses is to avoid common mistakes, which are asymmetry, illustrating corners, rendering sloping ellipses or tear-shapes ellipses. This often means sketching plotlines onto which the ellipse may rest. The outline of an ellipse can then be keyed into these plotlines. The video shows how an ellipse element can be plotted over a cross and a rectangle. The ellipse is more likely to be even, perpendicular and symmetrical in shape. The rest of the vessel is then made more easy.
More Drawing Techniques