How to Draw Ellipses Freehand

How to draw ellipses

How to Draw an Ellipse Freehand

Do you lack confidence, and no matter how much you try, you fail at drawing freehand ellipses?
Don’t worry, it is actually simple when you know these tricks:

  • I start by showing the 5 common beginner mistakes.
  • Then I give you 8 easy techniques to succeed your ellipses by today!

Take a ballpoint pen, paper, and let’s draw 10000 ellipses together! 😀


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once,
but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
– Bruce Lee


How to Draw an Ellipse Freehand

A message I received from Sam:

Sam can now draw ellipses with success!

How to Draw an Ellipse Freehand

01:01 MISTAKE #1 🥞 PANCAKE ELLIPSE

The most common mistake is the ellipse that looks flat at the bottom.
You try to draw many of them, but this flat surface keeps coming back.

MISTAKE #1 🥞 PANCAKE ELLIPSE
The Pancake ellipse
MISTAKE #1 🥞 PANCAKE ELLIPSE
They are no good for drawing, but they look delicious though!

01:23 MISTAKE #2 POINTY ELLIPSE

The shape of the ellipse becomes an “egg”?

MISTAKE #2 POINTY ELLIPSE
The Pointy ellipse
MISTAKE #2 POINTY ELLIPSE EGG SHAPE
The egg shape is the second most common beginner mistake

01:58 MISTAKE #3 FURRY ELLIPSE

Lacking confidence, you trace many small lines one after another.
But the outcome looks amateur and hesitant.

MISTAKE #3 FURRY ELLIPSE
The Furry ellipse

02:27 MISTAKE #4 SHAKY ELLIPSE

Lacking confidence, your hand is shaking.
You feel a bit of fear when you draw.

MISTAKE #4 SHAKY ELLIPSE
The Shaky ellipse

02:35 MISTAKE #5 OVERCONFIDENT ELLIPSE

On the opposite, you want to imitate the professional design sketchers.
You draw fast and your lines express speed.
But… you can’t achieve drawing any ellipse properly.

MISTAKE #5 OVERCONFIDENT ELLIPSE

By drawing with overconfidence, it is like trying to drive a sport car that is too fast for you. You need training on the basics first.

MISTAKE #5 OVERCONFIDENT ELLIPSE

03:25 HOW TO SOLVE THE 5 ELLIPSE MISTAKES

We saw the 5 beginner common mistakes.
Now let’s see the 8 complementary techniques to master freehand ellipses with confidence!

HOW TO SOLVE THE 5 ELLIPSE MISTAKES

03:41 SOLUTION #1 GHOST DRAWING

If you want to learn how to draw like the professionals,
this technique is the most important to master early (for drawing “perfect” lines, circles, and curves)

SOLUTION #1 GHOST DRAWING
SOLUTION #1 GHOST DRAWING Simulate the movement
Simulate the movement before tracing your ellipse helps you better visualize the outcome.
SOLUTION #1 GHOST DRAWING Draw multiple loops
Don’t stop at the first ellipse loop. Draw adding 3 to 4 loops on your ellipse to gain momentum and precision.

5:00 SOLUTION #2 DRAW GENTLE

If you have a heavy wrist,
it is time to be gentle with your pen.

Use the ghost drawing, and let your ballpoint pen nib touch progressively the surface of the paper. Then bold along the way if needed.

SOLUTION #2 DRAW GENTLE

05:53 SOLUTION #3 REGULAR SPEED

If you start sketching, avoid making acceleration to show fluidity.
You also don’t need speed to draw dynamic lines.
Take your time.
What matters is the momentum you create during the ghost drawing, not the speed.

SOLUTION #3 REGULAR SPEED

06:30 SOLUTION #4 ITERATE

If you feel that you start drawing a bad ellipse, don’t stop!
Continue and iterate on top of it. If it is not satisfying yet, draw another one!

SOLUTION #4 ITERATE

08:52 SOLUTION #5 WHOLE ARM DRAWING

Do you draw with your elbow resting on the table?
If yes, get ready to make big progress by starting drawing with your whole arm.

SOLUTION #5 WHOLE ARM DRAWING
SOLUTION #5 WHOLE ARM DRAWING don't draw with wrist
SOLUTION #5 WHOLE ARM DRAWING don't draw with elbow on table

11:04 SOLUTION #6 GOOD SUPPORT

To draw with precision, you need stability.
You use below fingertip to “hold your pen like a tripod”.
So when you draw, your fingertips slide on the paper surface with sketching control and stability.

SOLUTION #6 GOOD SUPPORT
SOLUTION #6 GOOD SUPPORT Pen slides on table

12:18 SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY

A beautiful ellipse is symmetrical.
To start this exercise, let’s see how to draw plenty of them!.

SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY
Avoid the egg shape starting drawing the minor axis first
SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY 45degrees movement
Drawing with 45º makes the movement a lot easier as it respects your body movements
SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY
Practice drawing only one angle to master it well.
SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY Turn your paper
Remember to turn your paper anytime you need!

16:23 SOLUTION #8 FOCUS

It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many ellipses on your paper. Your vision gets blurred, and your ellipses get slanted.

Visualize the angle of your minor axis before tracing your ellipses.

SOLUTION #8 FOCUS

Remember to start to apply today to make progress fast and use these techniques anytime to sketch at home, office, train, cafe…


If you want to learn more about how to draw an ellipse in perspective,
I made a 7 Steps ellipse drawing video tutorial

See you!

Cheers,
Chou-Tac


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I really like your step-by-step lessons, they can be studied gradually, they can be printed. It is very convenient.

I watch videos when I have a little more time. I like to look directly at the drawing process. This is inspiring. Both formats are needed!

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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim is to help you all along with your design projects and journey! Leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : ) Chou-Tac

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