Sunday, 22 June 2014

Summer Drawing Project–lesson 8

Now that you’re accomplished at drawing swirling circles and ellipses, lets move on to drawing objects that are full of circles and ellipses. You might have already noticed that elliptical shapes look like the tops of cylinder shapes. So have a look around and find some cylinder shapes to draw. If you’re reading this while drinking your morning cuppa, like me, you’ll notice that your mug or cup and saucer are made up of elliptical shapes with side walls added. Just draw vertical lines down from some of your elliptical shapes you drew previously. This row of shapes could be the tops of a row of mugs, cylindrical hat boxes, cans of paint, sawn logs maybe?


Add some shading to them like this, below, and you turn them into hollow cylinders making them look like open cans of paint or hollow tubes. Notice that the shading on the inside of the cylinder is on one side and the shading on the outside of the cylinder is on the other side (on the left)!  This is because the light direction is from the right in my drawing situation at the moment. Identify the direction of your light source and you’ll need to adjust where you put your shading.

To make the shaded areas you can use scribbled lines to gently fade away from the drawn line. Or  you can use water to drag the colour from the drawn line if a soluble medium was used. Here I use my new Intens blocks to re-define the original drawn lines and then a paint brush dipped in clean water to drag the media away from the line to make the fading shaded areas.



Looking around, I then spotted my rack of cotton reels and drew a row of them. You’ll notice that the pattern of the threads were really only ‘partial’ ellipses and the sketchbook was turned up-side-down to get the swing of my mark a nice curve. (It’s so difficult drawing an arc or curved shape using your arm ‘the wrong way round’.


Looking around for other cylindrical forms, I found a vase, a jug and a cup and saucer to challenge myself with. Gather a few cylindrical objects yourself.

Draw a vertical line as a feint guideline down the centre of the page is helpful to get the item looking reasonably symmetrical although this isn’t essential as you’ll discover next week! But for this week’s lesson, it’s simple observation. So draw the vertical guideline and then place your ellipses so they straddle that line. You’ll notice that mine don’t always! Your cylindrical object will have an elliptical shape at the top as well as the bottom even though you might not be able to see the complete ellipse if your object is a solid one. For the moment, pretend that it is made out of glass, like the vase, and draw the whole ellipse. For this cylinder, another ellipse is drawn to make the level of the water in the vase and some cut-glass rings around the neck.

If your cylinder is a solid one, draw all the complete ellipses lightly and then go over only the edges that you can actually see to make it look as if it is solid. I don’t advise you to rub out the guideline or the unwanted ellipse lines as they (and any ‘mistakes’) all add up to a rich and interesting drawing. Seeing evidence of the ‘hand of the maker’ on any hand made object or drawing is considered a valuable and treasured ‘extra’ so don’t ‘tidy it up’ as it will look as if it has been done by a computer!

Your vertical guideline will also be useful when you come to draw the side walls of your object – if you keep them reasonably the same distance apart on either side of the guideline, the object will look reasonable up-right.



Your cylinder might be on a table in front of you (as the cup and saucer) or it might be on the floor (like a waste-paper bin or basket), or it might be on a shelf such as a vase or tin of paint. So, a different height will require a different type of ellipses.

The drawings of the wine glass below shows the left one as if it is placed on a very low level table, the middle one is on a table and the right hand one is perhaps being lifted close to your lips.  Notice how the ellipse is very wide and open when the glass is positioned quite low to your eye level and gets more compressed as it gets closer to your eye level. Try placing your cylinder at different heights and notice how the ellipses change at the different heights.


It’s fun to try drawing the same cylindrical object from different angles and overlapping them as below. Use different drawing media – pencils, crayons, biros, felt pens. You decide whether to add shading or to keep them linear drawings.


Perhaps you’d like to arrange a small group of some cylindrical shapes into a still life.


Next lesson 9 will be posted on Monday 30th June.

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