How to Draw an Ellipse Freehand

DRAWING TIP-A-DAY CHALLENGE: 3/30

“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


If you are a beginner,
drawing basic forms is difficult.

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 the 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!



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.

The 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”?

The Pointy ellipse
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.

The Furry ellipse

02:27 MISTAKE #4 SHAKY ELLIPSE

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

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.

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.


03:25 HOW TO SOLVE THE 5 MISTAKES

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


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)

Simulate the movement before tracing your ellipse helps you better visualize the outcome.
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.


05:53SOLUTION #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.


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!


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.


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.


12:18 SOLUTION #7 SYMMETRY

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

Avoid the egg shape starting drawing the minor axis first
Drawing with 45º makes the movement a lot easier as it respects your body movements
Practice drawing only one angle to master it well.
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.

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 tomorrow for the 4th DRAWING TIP-A-DAY CHALLENGE!

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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. 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 to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

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