A lil question about Ellipses in Perspective

  • Hello 🙂 I'm currently working through the "How to Draw Everything" course, and practicing all the exercises, but the one on Drawing Ellipses in perspective, I'm not sure mine look right, and I wanted to check so as not to form any bad habits.

    Watching Jake, he cuts the ellipse through the four points of the cross, but seems to elongate the ellipse towards the top and bottom corner, depending on the angle of the paper. I'm going to struggle to explain this, so I'll stick a photo in, but how do you know how far to take the ellipse towards the corners? Is there a rule, or is it just eye balling it?

    I don't quite understand the rule of ellipses maybe, I'm not sure.

    Here's a photo of one of my pages of 2 point perspective ellipses, with one close up showing what I mean.
    ellipses in perspective

    Thank you for helping me 🙂

  • Pro SVS OG

    I don’t think there’s a rule that it would be practical to follow. My gut tells me it depends on your vanishing points and the angle your´re looking from. Drawing ellipses correctly is definitely one of the skills that took me longest to master (and not sure I do master it) and it´s a crucial one....there are just so many circles in the world....
    Some tools and exercises that help: take photos that have ellipses in them (not difficult: cars, laps, vases, an arrangement of cups and plates, anything) and trace the construction and perspective of each ellipse. It helps to see how distorted the ellipse is in relation to its axes (which is what you´re asking here about). There are ellipse stencils you can buy if you work traditionally and of course the ellipse tool in PS (or any other software) if you work digitally. My life changed when I learnt how to work with paths in Photoshop....You can create a straight ellipse and then transform it and skew it until it looks right. I can draw ellipses decently free-hand, but I´d say using digital shortcuts has helped with developing the “ellipse sense” a lot.

  • SVS OG

    @sophie-lawson There is a way to lay our where the spandrels should hit on the radius lines in perspective... it is a bit labor intensive and hard to explain... There is an entire chapter devoted to this in Framed Perspective Vol 1 (awesome book) - here is a video of someone flipping through the book... skip to one minute sixteen seconds where they skim through chapter 8 to get an idea of what is involved... Marcos Mateo-Mestre is as good as it gets for understanding perspective - here is a photo of one of the pages from chapter 8



    Here is the link to the book too


  • @Sophie-Lawson Oh yeah, ellipses! They are so difficult to get right, kudos for trying to tackle this difficult and super useful tool!

    @Kevin-Longueil I'll have to check out Framed Perspective! I have Framed Ink and I love how it's pretty simple, and yet how I keep learning more from that book each time I revisit it.

    Another amazing book is Scott Robertson's "How to Draw". It's my bible for this kind of constructive approach to drawing objects and environments. It's such a simple title, and in fact I didn't pick it up for so long because I thought it sounded too basic, but it's the one I reference more than any other. So incredibly packed with great information on how to draw objects that feel like they're sitting in a real space.

  • @smceccarelli Thank you Simona. I have some ellipse stencils in my art cupboard somewhere that I bought yonks ago, I forgot about them till you said lol I'm going to combine everything you said and create sheets of ellipses in photoshop, than print them out and trace over the top to practice 🙂 Thank you!

    Ellipses are so weird though lol

  • @kevin-longueil Thanks Kevin. That page scares me a bit (aka a lot) lol

    I have Marcos's other book Framed Ink, which is cool, didn't know he had a book (two books even) on perspective 🙂 Just watched the video, love how he incorporates that female character in the book, he has a cool style. I've added this to my little list of books to buy 🙂

    Thank you Kevin.

  • @robgale I like copying the drawings in Framed Ink. That was one of the first things I did for Inktober this year 🙂 The reviews for that How To Draw book on Amazon look really good, another one for the 'future books to buy' list 🙂

  • @sophie-lawson Yep. That page terrifies me and hurts my brain. 😂

  • @sophie-lawson I just thought of another, free resource, it's actually how I started digging in and found the Scott Robertson Book. It's this video series by a guy who calls himself ModerndayJames. He covers things in pretty much the same way as the book (though the book goes deeper into some things). It's free, and for me, it's not crazy complicated, though everyone has a different sensibility for this perspective stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gBpf47phh0

  • SVS Instructor Pro


    I've been reading (and watching) all the suggestions being made about drawing ellipses. And they are great!

    There's something that hasn't yet been mentioned about the original drawings. Most of the time when an artist talks about and "ellipse" what they mean is "a circle drawn in foreshortened perspective". I'd like to clarify -- is that what you mean in your original post?

    If so, then there's a more basic issue that you would need to address first. That is, the plane in which you draw your ellipse needs to be a square plane correctly drawn in perspective.

    In looking at your OP drawing some definitely are squares in perspective but a number are actually rectangles in perspective. Attempting to draw a circle inside a rectangle will invariably result in an ellipse that looks "wrong".

  • @davidhohn Hello David. Thank you.

    I'm about 90% into the Draw Everything course now, but noticed a perspective course on the SVSLearn, so I thought I would do that one maybe next … I have been practicing drawing things in perspective each night before bed though, and while in that original post I wasn't focused on drawing squares, I just wanted any old shape to practice ellipses, I have noticed even drawing a square in perspective is pretty hard 🙂

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