How to draw 3D objects from simple shapes?

Even the most complex objects are built from very simple shapes like circles, ellipses, curves, triangles, squares, and straight lines. If you learn how to draw these simple shapes from different angles, you’ll be able to create more complex 3D objects easily.

You can easily make the feel of 3D objects on a paper if you draw curves, circles and ellipses in a proper way. Watch the drawings below about forms and connections and try to follow the steps.

Step 1 – Practice to draw circles

As a first step, start drawing loose circles that overlap each other. In order to form the circle properly you need to keep your fingers and wrist rigid, and make sure that the circular movement is coming from your elbow and shoulder. First, do the movement slightly above the paper. Once you feel it, start drawing. Try to draw the circle in both direction clockwise and counterclockwise. Draw different sizes. Try to draw tangential circles as well. The speed should be 2-3 rotation per sec. Once your circles look good, try to draw circles with one quick movement. These exercises will help you to improve your circle drawing.

How to draw circles
How to draw circles

Step 2 – Practice to draw ellipses

Draw ellipses in different sizes and orientation. Mark the major (long) and minor (short) axes too in each ellipse. This will help to draw the orientation consciously. No matter in what position an ellipse is, its axes are always perpendicular to each other.

How to draw ellipses
How to draw ellipses

Step 3 – A pipe form through ellipses

Draw lots of ellipses that form a pipe. Highlight the contour lines. Think of which contour line will be visible and which one will be in cover. Watch those red T-shape connections. A 3D object starts forming.

Notice that an ellipse can be interpreted as a circle rotated in the 3D space. This pipe has a circle shape cross-section. So these ellipses are basically circles in the 2D world.

A pipe form through ellipses
A pipe form through ellipses

Step 4 – Draw a cylinder

Draw two ellipses in the same orientation, but with different sizes. Draw their major and minor axes as well. Finally, connect the two ellipses which will form another 3D object, the cylinder.

Draw cylinders by rotating ellipses
Draw cylinders by rotating ellipses

Step 5 – Draw cubes

First draw a square, then imagine that it’s a plane that is rotated around its vertical axis in the 3D space. Then build cubes from these simple planes. The three cubes use three different perspective drawing method. Read more about perspective drawing principles here.

Draw cubes by rotating planes
Draw cubes by rotating planes

Step 6 – Combine forms

Draw two different simple 3D objects like a cube and a sphere, and connect them with a cylinder.

Combine forms
Combine forms

Step 7 – Rotate planes

Imagine that a cube falls down from a table. It’s the same cube, but it’s just slightly rotated as it falls. You can draw several phases of the fall.

Rotate planes
Rotate planes

Step 8 – Rotate a cylinder

Let’s practice to draw a cylinder from different angles. See the examples below and try to draw a cylinder from as many angle as you can.

Rotate a cylinder
Rotate a cylinder