Course 2: Definition of an Ellipse

£75.00 £25.99

The reason why I felt I had to create a course to teach people about perspective was all about making it real for everyone.

When we talk of an ellipse, the mathematics teacher has a different meaning than the Art teacher. The theory of perspective can be a very technical one, but as artists we need to create what’s real to us. How many of us ever see a circle? We don’t! We see a circle drawn on paper with a compass or a pretty pattern on the wall made of circles, but when do we see a circle?

Yet circles are around us all the time in some form. How often do you pick up a cup of tea and see a circle, never! We see an ellipse, a “Circle in Perspective“.

When you want to create human forms such as hands, face, fingers, body etc., the ellipse plays a very important part.
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One of the most important skills in perspective drawing is the ability to construct circles (ellipses) in perspective.


The circle is so ordinary, when you are working with drilled holes in surfaces, circular parts protruding from a surface, rounded corners, cylinders of various types, cones and circular lines on spheres.

Even when you want to create human forms such as hands, face, fingers, body etc., the ellipse plays a very important part.

So what is an Ellipse?

The only way you can define an ellipse, the true way to define an ellipse, is that ‘an ellipse is a circle in perspective’, sorry, but that’s it. At this stage you should now have a good idea of perspective and it’s uses. So lets look at that statement again.

How often do you see a circle? Not a circle drawn on a piece of paper with a compass!

Not very often I can guarantee you, because the world is made up of what we often call 3D or ‘three dimensional’ images seen by our eyes, yet a circle is a 2D ‘two dimensional’ image, so it stands to reason that it’s not often you will see a circle.

In Perspective Drawing therefore we are able to see a circle in one place only and that’s at the point of intersection of the Line of Sight and the Horizon Line in One Point Perspective, as seen below. Indeed every circle we look at ‘front on’ in One Point Perspective is a perfect circle. I guess that’s the reason I will mention from the word go that we will not be working too much with One Point Perspective.

Our perception of a circle in Two and Three Point Perspective is not a true circle at all, but an ellipse that varies considerably from a perfect circle to an ellipse that is so compact that it becomes a straight line. This can happen on the horizontal and vertical plane as well as any other plane (angled plane) at any angle, that is aligned with our eye level.

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  • Technical illustrations generally have to describe and explain the subjects to a non-technical audience.

    Therefore, the visual image should be accurate in terms of dimensions and proportions, and should provide “an overall impression of what an object is or does, to enhance the viewer’s interest and understanding”.

  • Linear perspective, a system of creating an illusion of depth on a flat surface.

    In linear perspective parallel lines that diminish into the distance appear to get closer together or converge.

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