Hello and welcome, fellow artists! Thank you for taking some time to read my article on reflected light.
There is a lot to understand about The Fundamentals of Light and The Fundamentals of Art, and sometimes it can all feel large and overwhelming. In this article, I’ve broken out reflected light, a small and vital piece of light fundamentals, to explain and demonstrate what it is and how it works.
I hope to help you build your understanding of light one small step at a time, so it all feels less daunting. To make this article helpful, I’ve kept the focus narrow. This article is only about reflected light. I’ll explain what reflected light is and how it’s different from other light effects, and I will give examples and demonstrate how to paint reflected light.
To fully understand how light works, we need to study it. In my Fundamentals of Light article, I explore and explain the basics of light fundamentals. But, first, let’s review a few points that will help with understanding reflected light.
A light source is anything that produces its own light. Typically, we draw and paint light effects from familiar natural sources such as the sun and fire and artificial sources like light bulbs.
Each light source has its own properties and characteristics, and most produce a lot of heat to emit light. A couple of exceptions are bioluminescence and chemiluminescence, which see light photons produced without much or any heat (“cool light”). We see bioluminescence in fireflies and jellyfish, and we see chemiluminescence in glow sticks.
Objects and organisms that do not create the light that comes from them are called Reflectors. So, for example, our moon, mirrors, eyes, and other things with reflective surfaces are all reflectors–they all reflect light from a light source but do not emit (or produce) any light of their own.
Understanding light means exploring light sources as well as objects that act as reflectors.
Light always travels in a straight line called a ray. However, the direction of light rays is changed through reflection and refraction, and what I’m covering is fundamental light reflection.
Direct light and Indirect light
For a surface to receive direct light means there is nothing between the light source and that surface. Therefore, the lighting is directly contacting the surface with no interference to affect the direction of the light rays.
Indirect light is light that is being diffused or reflected in some way before it reaches the lit surface–its direction is changed. This means before light hits an object’s surface, there is quite a lot of light bouncing around off other surfaces.
A sunny day experienced through a bedroom window is an example of indirect light. The sun’s light is being diffused and reflected off clouds, the atmosphere, the ground, the window glass, and the bedroom walls and objects to light the bedroom. The light source, in this case, the sun, is not shining its light directly into the bedroom, but its light is illuminating the room in an indirect way.
Primary light source
In the example of a bedroom on a sunny day, the primary light source is the sun. There aren’t any other light sources acting on the bedroom in this scenario. When light bounces off so many surfaces to illuminate an area like that it’s also an example of ambient light.
When lighting a scene, the primary light source is the strongest (most intense and bright) light source that is responsible for most or all of the light and shadows occurring. A primary light source can be any type of light as long as it is the main source of lighting.
Secondary light sources tend to be smaller, closer to the subject, less intense, and less bright.
What is reflected light in art?
Reflected light in art is the same as reflected light in nature. The only difference is nature doesn’t need tutorials like we do 😉.
Reflected light happens when light emitted from a source bounces (or reflects) off objects and surfaces and illuminates other areas/surfaces/objects with that reflecting light.
Here are some examples of reflected light.
What is the difference between light and reflected light?
Context, intensity, and whether or not absorption is happening are the main differences between the terms “light” and “reflected light.”
Light and reflected light in context
When we refer to light, we’re usually talking about a light source–something that is producing and emitting its own light that we can see. So, when we say, “turn on a light”, “light a candle”, or “hand me that flashlight” we know we’re talking about light sources like lamps, candlelight, or a flashlight.
If you were to walk into a bedroom ambiently lit as in the earlier example, you’d probably say the room appears “bright” because of the light falling through the bedroom window and light bouncing off various reflective surfaces. It’s not likely you’d say, “what a nice bedroom with reflective light.”
So, the context is important. Typically, we don’t refer to most lights as reflected lights unless we are specifically calling out the fact that light is being reflected.
There is a significant difference between the intensity of source light and that of reflected light. Source light loses most of its intensity when it begins bouncing around off surfaces and objects, so reflected light is much weaker than the source that creates it.
An exception to this rule happens when light is bounced off a highly reflective surface, such as glass or water.
Let’s use direct sunlight as an example. When it is reflected (or bounced) off highly reflective surfaces such as water, glass, or a mirror, direct sunlight loses little to none of its intensity because almost none of the sunlight is being absorbed by those materials. It is all being reflected.
Most reflected light we see has been bounced off surfaces with considerably lower reflectivity than water or glass, meaning much of the light is being absorbed. The absorption results in lost intensity for the bit of light that gets reflected, which is why reflected light appears so much weaker than source light.
What is reflected color in art?
This isn’t really a thing. “Reflected color” is really just light that has reflected off a colored object and taken on the local color of that object, or it’s colored light that is being reflected or both. We cannot see color–or anything else–without light, so there is no such thing as “reflected color” only reflected light that has a color.
What is reflected light in drawing?
Reflected light is the same whether you’re drawing or painting, or observing light in real life. The medium you use to describe light in your image doesn’t change the behavior of light. Reflected light in a drawing is still light that is coming from a source and being reflected off an object or surface to illuminate another area, surface, or object with the light reflected.
The main concept to understand with reflected light is the light’s behavior when it is being reflected, and the materials it is reflecting off of. Technique changes with the medium used, but the behavior of light will remain consistent and predictable.
What is the difference between reflections and reflected light?
The reflectivity of the object/surface material and the light intensity involved is what separates reflected light from what we usually call a reflection. The behavior of the light is the same for both, but the refractive index and reflectivity of materials play a big role in how light’s behavior is conveyed to our eyes.
With reflected light, we see an indication of an object’s reflection on a matte surface, whereas we see clear to mirror-like forms with reflections.
Examples of Reflection vs. Reflected Light
Differences and changes in materials’ characteristics can alter light’s direction and the appearance of reflections. As you can see in the images below, the quality of reflected light and reflections is noticeably different as materials, form, and light intensity change.
Below are more images to demonstrate the differences between reflected light and a reflection.
In the first image, everything above the horizon–sky, clouds, mountains, and treeline–is reflected perfectly on the mirror-like (specular) flat surface of the lake’s still waters.
In the second image, we have much the same effect but with even more reflections happening on the glass sphere. The spheric form and highly reflective–and transparent!–quality of the glass further alter the direction of the light through refraction as well as reflection, so there’s a lot going on there.
The same is true of the third image, but the soap bubble has an additional characteristic of iridescence that drastically alters the appearance of the reflections cast upon its surface.
All three images show highly reflective materials, each with its own sets of characteristics that greatly impact the quality and appearance of the reflections.
The next three images show how changes to the materials can alter the specularity of the reflections, creating more of a Lambertian effect.
In the first image above on the left, we have an evening/night scene with artificial light reflected on the surface of a large body of water. In our earlier example of light reflected off water, we had a daytime scene and still water that created a mirror image of the objects above the horizon line. In this image, the water is not still and the light sources are smaller and less intense.
This change to the material and light intensity creates a Lambertian reflection rather than a specular reflection. The main difference between the two is the texture of the surface material receiving the reflection. The water is still highly reflective, but it is now choppy and textured instead of still and smooth and that creates more of a matte (diffusely reflecting) surface on the water.
Smaller, lower intensity light that is bouncing around more on a now matte surface means we see reflected light on the water rather than reflections of forms.
The next image with a person’s reflection on wet sand applies the same principle. The surface material here is actually wet sand, not water. Sand is not reflective, but soaking wet sand on a shore when the tide is in? That scenario combines the texture of the sand with the reflectivity of the water, and we get a reflection that is somewhere between Lambertian and Specular.
The last image shows a wooden cylinder next to a purple plastic cup. The cylinder has a matte surface, the plastic cup shiny and reflective. When lit and placed near each other, we see reflected purple light (Lambertian reflection) on the wooden cylinder, and a more specular form reflection on the plastic cup.
Notice on the cup we can clearly see the reflection of the wooden cylinder, the light source, and a couple of other items on the shadow side of the cup. All of the reflections on the cup also have a purple tint, reminding us that local color for each object is always a factor.
Understanding how reflected light works
First things first, let’s review some basic light and shadow terminology, shall we? In the image below, I’ve labeled all the stuff and gubbins and you can always refer to my Fundamentals of Light article if you need an in-depth explanation.
We’ve discussed materials, reflectivity, and light intensity as a few factors that affect how light reflects. A couple of other factors to consider when we’re studying reflected light are distance and position.
The next few callout images demonstrate how the distance between objects impacts the amount of reflected light that is able to reach the subject.
In this next round of callouts, I’ll demonstrate more about how object position and materials affect reflected light.
You might have noticed that most of the time when we observe light bouncing onto an object or surface it does so in the form shadow (dark side, shadowed areas) and/or in the cast shadow areas. The reason is all about positioning. When one object is in front of another it will cast a shadow on that object, reflecting little to no light onto it. This is because the light falling on any object will reflect out at the same angle it came in (Law of Reflection).
In the image with the red box and the wooden cylinder, we see a slight exception because of the proximity of the objects. The intensity of the light, and the proximity of the objects to the light source and to each other, means the light is able to bounce around from the source to the cylinder, to the box, and back onto the cylinder giving the red box’s cast shadow a red tint.
Since materials play such a big role in how light interacts with objects, it’s worthwhile to examine a few more instances of how changes to material characteristics affect everything from form shadows to cast shadows, to the tint and shade of reflections and shadows, and the edge of a shadow or reflection.
Light transmission is a separate but obviously related light effect. When materials are translucent or transparent light is allowed to pass through to varying degrees, and can then bounce around on other objects and surfaces. Since it is a separate area, I won’t lose focus by delving into it here, but I thought it would be helpful to offer a few examples so you’ll know the differences in the light effects you observe as you study and practice the Fundamentals of Light.
How to paint reflected light
I created a basic demonstration that I hope helps bring all this together in a simple example. My demo uses simple matte forms so the focus remains on reflected light. Painting reflections and specularity are a whole other demonstration and require a lot more explanation of additional factors like global illumination, so I’ll save that for another time.
Just a few more points
I wanted to mention a few things about local color, colored light, and shadows. In my examples and demonstration, I focused on how light reflects onto objects rather than in shadows or on surfaces. It’s important to mention that the same behavior happens in shadows and on surfaces as on objects. Even a dark shadow can be illuminated with some reflected light, and create interesting visual tonal contrast.
One exception to this, however, is occlusion shadows. The absolute darkest part of any image is where no light can reach– and bounce light is far too weak to penetrate occlusion shadows. Darker shadows will still have color and temperature even if they aren’t illuminated in any way (shadows aren’t really black), and they are still impacted by the local color of the object casting the shadow and the surface the shadow is being cast upon.
When the light source is a colored light, like blue light or the yellow light of the sun, the hue and temperature of the shadows and bounce light will be affected. Of course, we must still account for light intensity and changes to materials.
These are all things we should keep in mind as our understanding and practice of lighting effects grows, and there are a lot of moving parts. If it feels overwhelming, just break down your practice into smaller steps with fewer factors and build up over time.
At first, I recommend tackling basic lighting and simple bounce light on objects, in forms shadows, and in cast shadows with matte materials.
Another Light and Shadow installment, signing off!
As always, Thank you so very much for stopping by my site and reading what I hope you found to be a great article. If not a great article, I hope you found it helpful. If it wasn’t helpful, then yikes! Please let me know that, too, so I can find areas to improve.
If you have any questions, need guidance, or have feedback for me, please send them in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.
Good luck and best wishes on your practice! Stay safe, take care, and happy drawing!
In this how-to-draw, we’ll be learning how to draw a football using shapes, forms, and lines.
American football uses a very differently shaped ball compared with other sports. It is more oblong and looks a bit like a short drum with cones attached to each end.
Its odd shape can make football drawing a little awkward, but I’ve come up with a couple of useful tricks to keep our football drawings from looking wobbly. I’ll go over the basic shapes and forms of footballs and show you the basic construction steps.
I’ll show you how to draw a football step-by-step, how to create a football drawing in perspective and talk about some of the ball surface details.
As always, let’s start by learning a little about what we’re drawing. The better we understand what we’re drawing, the better our football drawings will be.
Let’s learn about footballs!
American football is hugely popular in the United States and Canada. Cheering for your favorite team and tossing around a football with the kids is a lot of fun. And who doesn’t enjoy those creative Superbowl ads?
Where it’s most popular, a football is also known as a “pigskin” and used to play gridiron football. There are 32 teams in the American National Football League (NFL), with each team using 11-player teams. In the Canadian Football League (CFL), teams feature 12 players.
For the professional collegiate leagues, footballs are most often made of brown tanned cowhide leather and stamped with a pebble-grain texture for easier gripping. Balls for average recreation or youth leagues may also be made of composite rubber, plastic, or rubber.
Construction of each football requires four panels of leather or plastic, and two of the panels are laced together. Each ball weighs about 14 to 15 ounces.
If you’d like to see how footballs are made, check out this helpful Youtube video:
Drawing a football is almost as easy as watching it, so let’s explore its shapes and forms. This will help us learn how to get a football shape so we can draw an easy football (and learn how to draw a football for kids, too!)
Exploration and study: Football drawing focused on shape and form
When I’m learning how to draw something, I begin by looking for references. It’s always helpful to create your own reference board to help with creating your exploration and study sketches.
If you need some help learning how to create your own reference board, I made a video guide to show you how.
A good reference board is really important because it helps us learn how to understand and draw our subject. The ref board I created for this how to draw a football tutorial is below.
Once I have all my refs, I begin my study sketches.
During this phase, I use pencil, pen, and colored pencil on a sheet of paper to break down the major shapes and forms of a football. I observe the location of the curve lines, stripes, laces, and stitching along the middle and center of the ball.
I visually measure the length and size of the curved lines, middle circle shape, and all the other lines and elements to see which are the same length and where each lives on the ball’s surface. Each of these things serves as a marker that helps us with our football drawing.
This is my messy phase, and it’s a lot of fun! 😁
I encourage you to let yourself make a big ‘ole mess on your page as you learn how to draw a football. Here are my first wobbly, messy sketches:
One of the first things I noticed as I began sketching for this how to draw a football tutorial was how awkward the transition from the middle of the ball to its tip is. Visually, it looks normal. But when I started to connect my shapes and forms to create that area, it felt odd and wobbly my first several tries.
At first, it seems like a simple circle is enough to define the center shape of the ball. I started that way before going on to connect the ends, but more often than not it made my football drawing come out funky, bumpy, and wobbly–which is totally fine at first! This is the phase for making a messed up messy mess as you learn how to draw a football. Don’t despair at your wobbles and bobbles–It’s all good! This is all a normal part of the learning process, I promise!
When I run into this kind of thing at any point, I take some time to re-evaluate my shapes and forms and look for ways to improve my form construction process.
How to draw a football: form construction
After a bit more sketching exploration, I came up with a solution I like better. I added a cylindrical drum shape to help firm up my construction, which helped keep my football shape from turning wobbly.
After several more sketches, I found that using more construction lines, shapes and forms helped a lot when it came to getting my football drawing to have that recognizable football shape.
Adding more structure to a drawing you’re having a challenging time can go a long way toward helping you understand and draw your subject better.
Shape breakouts and variations
Normally, at this stage of my how-to-draw tutorials, I like to give examples of the natural shape variations that occur in the subject, but…that’s not really a thing with footballs 😜
Unless they are deflated, deformed, or damaged in some way, the overall shape of a football–and any sporting ball, really–remains the same. The variations we see with a football are found in the materials it’s made with and its surface designs with things like logos and coloring.
Other variations that might interest you as you learn how to draw a football can be found in how the ball has evolved over time and how it compares to other sports’ balls, such as a soccer ball (which the rest of the world calls a futbol).
There is some speculation that the ball of choice for America’s Game started out as an inflated pig bladder, but that is hard to verify–though I did a search and found some fun pictures from places like The Smithsonian Magazine and Scoutlife.org!
I don’t own these images, but I’ve credited their sources as best I can. For more information, and to see the source of each photo, just click on the images below.
How to draw a football step by step tutorial
Now that we’ve found our references and done some sketching, let’s jump into how to draw a football step-by-step!
How to draw an easy football, Step 1
First, draw a line guide on your page. This line represents the unseen middle of the ball from tip to tip. This kind of guiding or action line helps orient the rest of your curved lines, shapes, and forms.
Next, draw another line perpendicular to your first guiding line. This second line helps you start to place the round center area of the ball.
Now, connect each line point to create a diamond-shaped envelope. This establishes the basic area where your ball will “live” in your drawing.
Remember, these are construction lines. We won’t keep all of them, but they help us develop a solid drawing.
Begin rounding off the overall football shape inside your envelope by drawing curved lines near each corner as shown.
Here, I started with rounding the center area of the ball.
Next, I drew small circles on the ends of my first and longest guiding line. This helps with making the ball’s tips rounded instead of pointy, and gets us closer to a football shape.
Use more curved lines to start defining the shape of your football drawing.
Now, you have a football shape!
The line and shape guides helped keep it from going all wobbly 😉.
Add some stripes to help your drawing look more like a real football.
Be sure to use curve lines as you go around the surface. Making the stripe lines too straight will make your drawing feel flat.
These surface details help us identify our object. This is a good stage to add any other designs or personal touches you’d like for your drawing.
Some finishing touches with a marker or pen help the football drawing stand out.
Erase your construction lines and, tada!
A completed football drawing!
So, how was it? Not too bad, huh? These steps came from my how to draw a football exploration and study phase. I came up with a couple more versions for this how to draw a football tutorial in case you could use some more structure help as I did.
Football drawing in Perspective
Knowing how to draw a football in perspective will be helpful if you’re drawing from a game you just saw played or from your imagination.
Here are some examples of how to draw a football in one and two-point perspectives.
The Details of footballs
Another part of learning how to draw a football is understanding how to construct the stitches and laces that make the ball so recognizable.
The next group of images will visually take you through the steps of how to draw a football’s lacing and stitching details.
Thank you & Farewell!
Hey, look! You made it to the end of this how to draw a football tutorial! There are a lot of choices out there, so even if you just took a few seconds to scroll through my article to find the bits you need, I appreciate you stopping by!
I’m always working to improve the quality of my content and to make sure I’m creating content that helps artists like you on their art journey. I’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, questions, or comments for me, please leave them in the comments section below! If there’s an art topic you’re looking for guidance on, please feel free to message me in the comments or email me at email@example.com.
If you liked this article, please share it! Sharing helps us all grow together as artists.
All about Scales
Making reference boards
Exploration and study
Shapes, forms, and construction
How to draw Scales step by step
Creatures with Scales
In our world, there are a …
Hello and welcome to how to draw a donut on cecelyv.com! In this how-to-draw tutorial, we’ll discuss and demonstrate how to make a tasty donut drawing and learn about the shapes, forms, and variations of a donut.
If you’re familiar with any of my other how-to-draw articles–like how to draw a snake or how to draw a mushroom–then you know I like to emphasize form andstructure. I’ll cover the basic shapes and forms that help us create a donut drawing, and I’ll explain the distinction between the donut itself and its delicious topping details.
First things first, let’s make sure we understand what we’re drawing a bit more.
Let’s learn about donuts!
A donut (also spelled “doughnut”) is a sweet treat food made from leavened fried dough. Donuts are popular, yummy to taste, and have a world full of variety, with just about every country and culture, from A to Z, having its version.
Donuts are most often deep-fried from a flour dough, with the two most common types of donuts being the ring donut and the filled donut. The ring donut has a circle shape with a hole cut out of the center, and filled donuts are injected with fruit jelly, cream, custard, or other delectable fillings.
Donut toppings vary wildly, from icing and glaze to sprinkles, frosting, chocolate, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and fruit. The hole from the center of a ring donut is often cooked as a donut hole.
Other shapes include twists, balls, buns, and thick and flattened small loaves. Donuts are also divided into cake and yeast-risen types and can be purchased everywhere, from grocery stores to cafes to donut shops and gas station convenience stores.
The History of Donuts
A cookbook published in 1485 gives us the first mention of fried dough cakes (as far as we know), so donuts have been around for quite some time. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the donut, here are a few sources to check out:
We like to eat them, and we’re making donut drawings, so we might as well look at how donuts are made, right? It’ll give us another good visual and insight for our drawings, and that’s always a good thing 👍🏽.
Time to make some donut drawings!
Okay! You’re probably like, “Finally, she gets to the point!” 😜😁
I know it can seem like a lot of extra stuff, but how can we draw what we don’t understand?
Now, let’s learn how to draw a donut and have some fun!
Exploration and study: Donut drawing shapes and forms
We know enough about donuts and their variations to make some drawings, so let’s start with reference boards and sketches!
If you need help making your reference board, I have an article and a video to help.
Donut reference boards help us sketch!
By studying references, we can develop a good idea of the basic shapes and forms as we begin making sketches and drawings. I like to do this for each of my drawing tutorials. Shapes and forms give us structure, and structure is vital.
How to draw a donut – My exploration and study sketches
It’s essential to do all the study sketches you feel necessary to be comfortable with your subject.
Donuts have relatively simple structures, so most of the drawing work is in the details of toppings like coloring, glaze, icing, sprinkles, shadows, and light, whether you put it on a drawing of a plate or with fruit in the middle, etc.
Here are my study sketches from my how to draw a donut explorations:
Compared with study sketches in my other tutorials, this one is pretty light on drawings–and that’s okay. If the subject is simple, it is easier to understand and draw.
Shape breakouts and variations
By studying my reference boards, I delivered the outlines and edges of an entire list of common donut varieties for us to draw. These outlines and shapes give us the basis for the forms we need as we learn how to draw a donut, and the form provides us with the structure we need so the delicious icing, glaze, and coloring have something to live on top of in our donut drawing.
Next, let’s have some fun with forms by tackling the form construction for each of these shape outlines.
How to draw a donut: basic form construction
To learn how to draw a donut, I started with the most common and recognizable type–the ring donut.
For beginners, I recommend starting with the most basic shapes and forms. Starting from simple shapes will help you grasp each edge, oval, circle, and line as you make your sketch.
This approach works for everyone from kids to hobbyists and professionals and can be applied to any medium from pencil and paper to crayons, colored pencils, or a digital format. Of course, if you need to trace at first to get started, that’s okay too!
Let’s have fun with donut forms!
How to draw a donut – more form construction!
I mentioned earlier that I identified more than one example of common donut shapes. Whether there’s a wavy line, curved lines, or straight lines, each shape gives us an example of how to start building our donut drawing forms.
It’s essential to my mission to emphasize form and structure in all of my drawing tutorials, so I created visual form construction examples for several of the common donut types to help you learn how to draw a donut of any style you choose.
To practice these form construction steps and learn how to draw a donut in different ways, follow the visual form construction steps below!
When in doubt, remember to lead by drawing an entire shape, like an ellipse, circle, oval, etc. It serves us better than individual lines or edges when we have a whole shape.
The twist type is less round than a basic/traditional donut, so I start with a box shape to capture its overall soft boxy form.
The churro is very tubular in its construction, essentially made of one long cylinder.
Learning how to draw a donut that is a cake type is a little more complex, but we can handle it! The cake types tend to be the ones with more complex top forms and toppings, so it makes sense that their form construction is a little more involved.
How to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial (from my sketches & Imagination!)
Next up in how to draw a donut, I will go through the “official” step-by-step tutorial for drawing a basic ring-type donut.
What you saw earlier with all the form construction was essentially a collection of visual step-by-step tutorials. I wanted to make sure I shared multiple ways of how to draw a donut with you so you can choose for yourself which type of donut you want to create.
Follow along with me, and you’ll have a realistic donut picture, complete with a slight indication of shadows. I won’t delve too deeply into the shadows and light or details in this tutorial because that crosses into the realm of painting and rendering, and we need a solid drawing to paint on top of first 😉.
This step-by-step should work for kids, too. So let’s get to it!
How to draw a donut, Step 1
Start with a horizontal oval, also called an ellipse. Extend two lines straight down from each end of your oval.
Connect the straight lines you extended with another oval/ellipse.
You’ve created the form for your donut hole!
Now that we have the empty middle of the donut, it’s time to construct the ring donut itself.
Add two large circles on the horizontal ends of the donut hole form you finished in step 2. Make the circles as large and as round as you’d like.
Connect the outside bottom edges of the circles with a large ellipse as shown.
This creates the bottom plane of your donut.
Draw another ellipse to connect the outside top edges of the circles. This creates the top plane of your donut where all the toppings will live.
Now, it’s time to erase some of your construction lines to prepare for the next stage of drawing some tasty toppings.
It helps to emphasize the inside edge closest to you in your drawing. When drawn next to your donut hole, it adds a sense of depth and three-dimensionality.
Sketch in some ellipses around the ring of your donut to help you visualize how the form turns.
This will give you a guide to help make your toppings look more realistic.
Sketch in the basic shape, size, and directionality of your toppings.
I chose a simple icing with light sprinkles, so here I blocked that in here with a different colored pencil.
To make room for the detail shapes and forms, I took some time to erase my construction lines more carefully.
I continued the detail phase’s block-in step here by adding the shapes and forms of each sprinkle.
I made the sprinkles out of tiny circles, 3D curls, and itty bitty cylinders. They may be small, but they still have form and mass!
I also added a little bit of color to the bottom of the donut. Using brown, I decided to make this a chocolate donut with icing and sprinkles on top!
To make the drawing clear, and to keep from accidentally erasing my work during clean-up of my construction lines, I went ahead and did a trace of everything in black marker.
The last step is color, shadow, and light!
I didn’t want this how to draw a donut tutorial to turn into a painting tutorial, so I didn’t do much with the light or shadows.
Still a slight indication of shadows under the icing is enough for our purposes here.
Congratulations! You’ve completed my how to draw a donut step-by-step tutorial!
The Details and coloring of donuts
Now you know all about how to draw a donut!
I want to offer a little more clarity on what constitutes “details,” so I created a short video to explain (COMING SOON!)
A warm farewell with encouragement
Thank you for visiting my site!
I hope you enjoyed my how to draw a donut tutorial, and I hope you had fun making donut drawings with me!
Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times you need to erase, or whether you need to trace or start again on a new piece of paper several times. It doesn’t matter if your donut drawing is round or if the donut hole you drew is a little wobbly. Learn the process, find your way of drawing. Keep at it! Art isn’t about being “good”, it’s about how making art makes you feel.
Try this with crayons and other media, try it with kids–or other kids if you are a kid!
Have fun and keep drawing! The rest will come.
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Welcome to my how to draw a circle drawing tutorial!
Hi and Happy drawing to you all! 😉
Welcome to my how to draw a circle article!
The first thing to know about a circle is that it’s a tool. Each of the two-dimensional shape tools and lines we learn to recognize and draw as kiddos are the foundation for all other forms, patterns, and designs.
The most common building blocks for everything we draw are the circle, the square and rectangle, and lines. Most other shapes can be created from these base shapes, similar to how each color can be mixed with the base colors of red, yellow, and blue. The only elements simpler than any of the base shapes are the line and the point (or dot).
Without getting too technical, let’s explore what a circle really is.
Let’s learn about circles!
A circle is a shape whose points are all equally distant from the center.
When points are not equally distant from the center point, you will get something different. This is where we find the main difference between a circle and its team of similarly round shapes: the oval and the ellipse.
Circles have been a known shape since before the start of recorded history, and the study of circles in mathematics helped the development of other disciplines such as geometry, astronomy, and calculus. Thankfully, we don’t need to get into the weeds of circumference, diameter, radius, distance, etc in order to draw circles.
Now, let’s look at some examples of natural and man-made circles.
Exploration and study: Natural & Man-made Circles.
A circle is an easy thing to find. Here are a couple of reference boards I created to demonstrate how prolific circles are in our lives.
Shape breakouts and natural variations (ovals and ellipses!)
Normally at this stage of my how to draw articles I like to cover the explorative study sketches I create, and break out all the naturally occurring variations in shape and form, but…that’s not really a thing with circles 😅.
The ways of how to draw a circle are so simple and subtle, and a slight change to any point on a circle brings you into different shape territory. So, let’s all agree that you guys don’t need me to break down or dissect an already simple shape 😉. We’ll just agree, as the intelligent and sensible people we are, that circles are circles, and when you stretch them out a bit they become ovals and ellipses.
How to draw a circle step-by-step: Several methods and tutorials
There are several different methods for how to draw a circle. There are a few that I don’t find terribly practical, such as the paper clip, string, and compass methods. Nevertheless, I’ve created or found an example for each method to offer you a variety to choose from.
PSA for this article: I am not teaching you how to draw a perfect circle. Why? Because it’s not practical or necessary. If perfect circles are your goal…this probably isn’t the best drawing tutorial for you. The wonderful search services of Google will get you to content all about ways to draw a perfect circle, but I’m not the one–sorry 😅.
Okay, moving right along! Let’s get into my how to draw a circle tutorials! I have come up with several methods of my own, and I will cover a few of the others I’ve come across (like the string, paper clip, compass, and rubber band methods). Each of the methods that I came up with emphasizes how to draw a circle freehand.
In my humble opinion, when you’re sketching and pulling out ideas, it’s cumbersome to need an additional tool for simple shapes. Plus, a sketch isn’t meant to be perfect; it’s a vehicle for your expression and problem solving.
I will now jump off my soapbox and list the methods I’ll be covering for how to draw a circle.
Methods for How to draw a circle
Crosshairs or ‘X’ method
Parallel lines method (my favorite!)
String and paper clip methods, and more!
Rubber band method
Rectangle method (for ovals & ellipses)
The Square Method
The square is pretty straightforward and freehand. We use a square as a bounding box to help us learn how to draw a circle. Here are some step-by-step visuals for this learning project.
Square Method, Step 1
Draw a square as your first step. I like to find the middle point on each side of the square and mark it with a line or a spot/dot because it’s helpful in the following steps.
Next, begin drawing your circle by connecting those middle points with curving lines/arches, as shown.
Once you’re happy with your circle, begin darkening it.
Lastly, erase your square leaving only your completed circle.
The Crosshairs or ‘X’ Method
Using crosshairs (like a plus ‘+’) or an ‘X’ to practice how to draw a circle is another super simple method, and it also allows you to vary the size of the circle as much as you like–and still draw freehand!
Crosshairs or ‘X’ Method, Step 1
Begin by drawing a simple plus sign (‘+’) or ‘X’.
Next, begin connecting the end points of your ‘+’ or ‘X’ using curved lines/arches.
Continue connecting the end points.
Complete your circle by connecting the last end point.
Erase your crosshairs or ‘X’, leaving your completed circle.
The Parallel Lines Method (my favorite!)
This method is my favorite for line work and circle/ellipse drawing practice. The parallel lines offer just enough support while leaving plenty of freedom for practice and experimentation.
The Parallel Lines Method, Step 1
Begin by drawing a series of straight parallel lines with a ruler, as shown. Varying the distance between the lines helps you practice drawing circles, ovals, and ellipses of different sizes.
The parallel lines act as guides for placement of the top and bottom of your circles/ovals/ellipses.
Staying within the lines, freehand draw as many circles/ovals/ellipses as you can fit onto each line, as shown.
Fill up all your parallel lines with circles, ellipses, and/or ovals. This is excellent line work practice, and a great warm-up exercise.
Here are a few videos to help make this how to draw a circle method more clear:
This is essentially the same concept as the square method. The point is to use your chosen shape as a bounding “box” from which to create your circle. Shapes create a contained space, so most of them lend themselves quite well to circle drawing. The simplest to use are the square and the triangle, but other shapes can be used just as well.
The Shapes Method, Step 1
Draw any shape to create a bounding “box”. Here, I’ve used triangles and trapezoids. It helps to mark the midpoints of each side on all the shapes.
Using curving lines/arches, connect the midpoints of each side.
Erase your shape bounding “boxes”, leaving only your completed circles.
String & Paper clip methods, and more!
I found a helpful YouTube video from DaveHax that demonstrates several examples of how to draw a circle, so I’ll share it here:
Rubber band method
Here’s a YouTube video from DrawingWithDeeArtist on how to draw a circle using the rubber band method. The idea behind all these “hacks” for drawing circles is to get perfect circles, not freehand circles.
This next YouTube video comes from Lorri at Sunshine22854. In it, she’s kind enough to cover how to draw a circle using a compass.
Rectangle method (for ovals & ellipses)
Once again we’re utilizing the bounding box concept for how to draw a circle–we’re just using a longer box to create ovals and ellipses instead of circles.
Rectangle Method, Step 1
Draw rectangles of any width and length you’d like, and mark the center point of each side (or at the corners for angled ellipses).
Connect your sight marks with curving lines/arches, as shown.
Darken your lines once you’ve achieved the oval/ellipse you want. Here, I also used this method to create a tear drop shape.
Erase your bounding boxes, leaving your completed oval/ellipse.
Drawing circles in Perspective
Learning how to draw a circle in perspective involves first learning how to draw planes and boxes in perspective. In this next video, I’ll demonstrate how I set up boxes in 1-point perspective and draw circles on the planes of each box.
Since circles are flat shapes, the process for drawing them in perspective doesn’t change, even when the perspective changes.
Drawing a circle from Imagination!
Drawing circles as part of your line exercises or warm-up is important training that is beneficial to do regularly. Then there are times we just need fun and interesting–and there’re other ways of practicing how to draw a circle.
In these last couple of videos, I demonstrate a few simple ways of practicing circle drawing by adding depth to transform circles into forms/objects, and by dissecting some forms built from simple ellipses and circles.
Thanks for hanging in there with me! I’m sure you came across lots of choices in your search, and I appreciate being the author whose content you chose.
I hope I’ve been able to do my part to help you see another side to drawing circles, and I hope my article has helped your art journey.
I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any feedback or questions for me please leave them in the comments section below. I hope we can meet each other again for another “how to draw” article!