How to Draw a 3D Circle

By Matt Wooddy
A common light source defines the 3D circle

Creating an image on a piece of paper that seems three-dimensional can be a difficult task, but there are a few secrets to make the picture stand out instantly. Shading is extremely important in creating a three-dimensional object, such as a circle or sphere. Therefore a common light source must be determined to accurately shade this piece. With help from a few tools and some practice, drawing three-dimensional circles can become a regular technique that you can apply to future drawings.

Lay the protractor down on the piece of paper so that sits flat. Because common protractors feature 180 degrees of a line that forms half of a circle, you will want to place the protractor on the paper so that there is enough room for the device to be flipped underneath itself.

Trace the outer edge of the protractor from one side to the other. Keep the protractor steady throughout this process to create a clean line.

Rotate the protractor and line it up as best as you can with the semicircle you have just drawn. Trace the outer edge of the protractor to create the bottom of the circle.

Remove the protractor from the paper and check the circle you have just drawn. Clean up the middle section of the lines if necessary.

Determine a common light source by selecting a random point on the piece of paper. Treat this point as thought it is the sun shining light onto the circle. The opposite side of this circle will obviously be shaded, as light does not hit it in the same way as the side with the light source.

Shade the area opposite of the light source with your pencil. Start very lightly and gradually get darker in the furthest areas from the light source point. As you move closer to the point with your pencil, keep the marks on the paper light until they eventually fade out. You may also use your finger to smear the shaded area to create a more blurred and realistic look to the circle.

Add a line to the bottom of the circle to give it the appearance that it is sitting on a surface, if you wish. Otherwise, trace the outline of the circle with a pen to give it a bolder look. Depending on how you want your circle to reflect, you may choose to use the pen to shade in the areas that require this. Erase any outstanding pencil marks that are not necessary to the circle.

About the Author

Matt Wooddy has been a freelance writer since 2006. His work has been featured in local and national audio magazines. Aside from graphic design and illustration work, he has also taught several classes on painting and drawing basics. Wooddy is also a DJ and technical engineer.