How to draw ellipses in perspective step-by-step.
If you wonder what is an ellipse, it is basically a circle in perspective.
For example, if you see a cup from the top, you see a circle. If you hold the cup below your eyes, you’ll see an ellipse!
Knowing how to use ellipses will be great for you to start drawing things such as glasses, bottles, bowl, wheels… basically cylinders and offset.
However, you will need to know how to draw a box in perspective first. If you don’t know yet, I invite you to watch this first: How to draw a cube with a 2-point perspective.
Step 1 | Draw a box with 2-point perspective
We will use this box with a 2-point perspective as a base for the ellipse drawing.
Step 2 | Divide the front face into 4 equal parts and find the center.
Remember to use foreshortening. In this picture, I use my eye estimation.
DRAWING TIP: If you want to find the perfect spot, draw the diagonals first. Their intersection will be the center.
Step 3 | Draw the Minor axis going through the Vanishing point and the center.
Far behind on the right, you have the Vanishing point.
This is the start of this blue arrow (called the converging line).
Step 4 | Find the middle of each edge of the square
Spot where the box gets divided at each edge.
Step 5 | Trace your ellipse!
Draw the ellipse following these 2 conditions:
- Connect the 4 blue dots
- Get the blue arrow (Minor axis) as a Symmetry axis
Step 6 | Optional: Check that the Major axis is Perpendicular to the Minor axis
Step 7 | Check that both minor and major axis is the Symmetry axis of the ellipse!
GOOD TO KNOW
- The Minor axis is the shortest distance of the ellipse.
- The Major axis is the longest distance of the ellipse.
Take a pen, explore multiple angles of the box, and draw many ellipses from different angles!
To complete this tutorial, I have created a video on How to draw ellipses freehand.
See you there!
Hi Chou-Tac, thanks for your and this video.
Your ellipse and perspective is wrong! But let me explain:
You can put a perfect circles in a box, where all sides have the same length, so you can put a perfect circles in a square.
If you want a perfect square in perspective, you are using ellipses.
They are not the only tool to get a square in perspective, but its one of the fastest ways.
In your video, you first established the right and left vanishing point, you draw the “square” in perspective, and then you draw the ellipse in it. Maybe it will work sometimes, but thats not the correct way, because this can lead to a wrong ellipse.
The right way doing it, is to draw the ellipse first and let your ellipse guides your vanishing points, or you draw your left and right vanishing points first, draw a square but only with 3 edges (top, down and left side), then you put your ellipse in and CHECK if its the correct one, to get the 4th edge (right side).
I hope you understand what I mean and that you can do a video about that, because there are only a little material about that topic.
In fine I understood how to draw the minor axis. But it doesn’t work with ellipses in the rectangle. How to draw those? Just with four points in the middle of every side?
this tutorial works for circle inside a square only. 🙂
Thanks for the tips…Any chance in having a quick explanation of using eye level perspective to draw complex objects
In few words, you have to SIMPLIFY complex objects in multiple simple one. To do that, you need to ignore the details, colours, logos… Think” “structure”.
For example, if you create a new way to ride a bike, draw the “architecture” of the bike. Focus on how it works, how people will ride it. Then only you will spend more time on the shape and details of the bike. It’s convenient start drawing a side view so you can get the proportion. Later your challenge will be “transposing” this side view in perspective.
There is multiple ways to start a project, but this one is pretty efficient.
About the eye level, it’s all the same as what you can find in the Designer Starter Kit for a cube.
Thanks Chou-Tac,i will apply this methodology and try to avoid getting distracted by details.
Good stuff Chou-Tac!
I feel it’s worth adding that we usually draw ellipses to present CIRCLES in perspective. As a result, the bounding box needs to be a SQUARE in perspective. If accuracy is important, you may need to use a few more steps and construction techniques in your sketch. Personally I need more practice with this, but I’m down on the theory involved.
Cheers – Luke
Hey Luke, you are right it’s worth mentioning the Circle. Thanks !
Great tip! By drawing the cube in perspective first you eliminate the guesswork as to how open the bottom ellipse should be compared to the top.
thank you and keep it up,
My pleasure Nick !
I agree, it’ all about eliminating the guesswork.