How to Draw Roman Columns

roman column image by javarman from

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Drawing paper
  • Ruler

There are three types of Roman columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Drawing these pillars can be a daunting task because of the beautiful but intricate styles that the Roman architects used in the tops of the pillars. When you draw these, you want them to look just as iconic as the originals, but you also want to draw them realistically. To do both, you will need some help. Before long, you'll be able to draw pillars as well as the Romans.

Find a reference, whether from an art history book or the Internet. Then get your drawing paper and pencil and start with the middle of the pillar. Use a ruler and draw five or six vertical and parallel lines spaced about a millimeter apart. All three types of Roman pillars (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) have this element.

Connect the top of the first two lines with a small arc. Connect the next sets of lines the same way on the top and bottom.

The tops of Doric columns are simple, with little or no detail.
segeste (sicile) image by Nini from

Draw the top of the pillar. This will vary depending on which column you'd like to draw. Draw the Doric column with simple rectangular shapes (and rounded edges) horizontally placed on the top of the vertical lines you drew in Step 1.

Ionic columns appear to have a scroll shape on the top.
ionic capital and column base, c. 1910 image by nextrecord from

Draw the top of an Ionic column by drawing a horizontal line on the top of the vertical lines from Step 1. On the end of the horizontal line, draw a small spiral toward the pillar. Do this on both sides. It should resemble an open scroll lying on the pillar's top. Use this sketch and begin to fill in detail by drawing another line about a millimeter above it, following the curls at the end. Later you will shade this to make it more realistic.

The tops of Corinthian columns are intricate and detailed.
classical building image by Robert Kelly from

Draw a Corinthian column the same way you did the Ionic column. However, before you draw the "Ionic part," consult a reference image of a Corinthian column. Notice that the space between the scroll shape at the top and the top of the vertical lines (from Step 1) is filled with detail. Draw this detail with small strokes and occasional lines curling away from the pillar. At the top of this, follow the instructions from Step 4.

Finish the base with a simple shape (such as a rectangle with rounded edges).

Shade your column with the edge of your pencil lead. To create shadows inside the rows from Step 1, shade between the lines that are connected at the top by the arches you made in Step 2. Shade about half of the space you drew by darkening the space closer to the light source. When you shade the top of the columns, use the same technique and only shade with the side of your pencil lead.


About the Author

Sarah Streitwieser has been writing professionally since 2009, with many articles appearing on various websites. Streitwieser is seeking her Bachelor of Arts in industrial design with a double major in English from Purdue University.

Photo Credits