Ellipses Are Your Friends

Circles become ellipses when viewed from above or below eye levels.

Eye level

Below eye level

Below eye level

Artist's Sketchbook

An ellipse is a curved geometric shape, different from a circle.

A circle has one central point, from which can be measured its radius, or all the way across for its diameter. An ellipse has two points that determine its shape and proportion, the farther away from center the two points are, the flatter the ellipse is.

A 3-D ellipse is called an ellipsoid (something to remember for advantage in Scrabble games) and is a shape to use when sketching in the fullness of things.

Your practice in warm-up drawings of basic shapes and your practice in drawing basic geometric shapes should have acquainted you with ellipses. Practice more if you need to. Note how they are flattest near eye level, whether above or below. They get fuller and fuller as they are further from eye level, so that when you are looking completely into a round object, it appears round, too.

Here are a few simple objects that Lauren has drawn above, at, and below eye level, so you can see how their appearance changes. First, in sketch form; then, as polished contour drawings.

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Above eye level

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, v ■ .y

Eye level

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Below eye level

Above eye level

Above eye level

Eye level

Eye level

Below eye level

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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Responses

  • OLIVIA
    How to draw things which are above and below eye level sketches?
    7 years ago

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