Drawing Lesson | How to Draw an Ellipse

Draw An Ellipse with Sadie J. Valeri

Learn to draw ellipses for your still lifes with this step-by-step demonstration.

By Sadie J. Valeri

When I draw a still life as a drawing or in preparation for a painting, I draw each object as if it were transparent. It’s important to draw the entire structure, even of objects that are mostly hidden behind others. When drawing containers such as vases and jars, I use ellipses to help construct the fundamental shape of the objects.

What is an Ellipse?

An ellipse is a tilted circle.
how to draw an ellipse

 

An ellipse is NOT an “eye.”
how to draw an ellipse

 

An ellipse is NOT a “racetrack.”
how to draw an ellipse

An ellipse is horizontal at its top and bottom points, and vertical at its left and right points.
how to draw an ellipse

 

Construct an Ellipse

1. Block in the basic height and width of the object.
how to draw an ellipse

 

2. Sketch the general shape of the ellipse.
how to draw an ellipse

 

3. Measure to construct a symmetrical, level diamond.
how to draw an ellipse

 

4. Draw the ellipse around the diamond.
how to draw an ellipse
Repeat for the second ellipse.

Ellipses in Perspective

If we draw an ellipse around a square in perspective, the ellipse will also be in perspective.
how to draw an ellipse

1. A perfect square fits inside a perfect circle.
how to draw an ellipse

 

2. The “diamond” is actually the perfect square, tilted.
how to draw an ellipse

 

3. With perspective, the near side is larger than the far side. To render this, we lower the top point.
how to draw an ellipse

4. An ellipse seen in perspective has a near side slightly larger than the far side.
how to draw an ellipse

When I draw a still life as a drawing or in preparation for a painting, I draw each object as if it were transparent. It’s important to draw the entire structure, even of objects that are mostly hidden behind others. When drawing containers such as vases and jars, I use ellipses to help construct the fundamental shape of the objects.

 


Sadie J. Valeri received her bachelor of fine arts degree in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1993 and also studied at Bay Area Classical Artist Atelier in San Carlos, California, the Hudson River Fellowship in New York and the Studio Escalier in France. She has taught graduate students at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and is co-founder of the blog womenpaintingwomen.blogspot.com. She currently teaches workshops and classes at Sadie Valeri Atelier in San Francisco. Visit her website at www.sadievaleri.com.

See Sadie J. Valeri’s entire instructional article, “Constructing Vessels,” in the January/February 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here for the print issue. Click here to find the digital download.

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