So far in our discussion of perspective we’ve talked about horizon lines, vanishing points and parallel sides. One might think that perspective is only for straight-sided objects. What happens when you’re drawing something round? Are there rules for drawing circles in perspective? Yes! A circle in perspective becomes an ellipse. The best way to understand how this works is to put your circle in a square. If we draw a square and divide with diagonal lines and mid-point lines, we see that each quadrant of the square is the same.

Now if we take that square and put it in perspective – it doesn’t matter if it’s one point or two point perspective – we can divide this square the same way with diagonal lines and mid-point lines. See how the circle becomes an ellipse.

Ellipses are all around us. Take this mug. The wideness of the ellipse shows it’s relationship to my eye level. When the ellipse is very thin, it’s close to eye level. As I lower the mug, the ellipse becomes wider and wider. Also notice that the curve of the bottom edge is similar to the curve of the top edge.

By placing a circle in a square, I hope it becomes easier to understand the concept of circles in perspective. You might wonder if I go to the trouble of drawing those squares ever time I need to get the right curve for circles. No, actually not. With all the drawing I’ve done, I have learned to see the shape of the ellipses quickly. The more you draw, the easier it becomes.

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