2. Curves and Circles

In this stage of the exercise, we’ll move onto adding curves to our designs. This might seem a small change, but it increases the complexity of the designs many times over.

It also allows us to start to introduce ideas from our corner ornament exercise here. Think back to some of the designs you came up with for your corners, and see if you can introduce ideas from them here. Use transition to soften the hard angles created by opposition. Try to find a balance between hard, straight lines and angles, and soft curves.

As before, we’ll be trying to create original, simple themes within the restrictions of the exercise: The restrictions are that all lines should be of even width, and the designs should be line only at this stage – no value yet.

As you create your design themes, remember that geometric perfection is not the goal, neither is complexity.

We are looking for:

  • Strength of line.
  • Good spacing and proportion.
  • A coherent design. This means that the design must hang together as a whole, and the character of the whole should be reflected in the elements that make it. This is most effectively achieved by repeating elements of the theme in different positions and sizes.

What you need:

  • Sketchpad
  • Pencil
  • Charcoal
  • Sandpaper
  • Putty rubber (kneadable eraser)

How to do it:

Begin simply. Lay out a number of squares, and begin to create themes in squares with a mix of straight lines and curves.



As confidence grows, start to introduce more complexity – but never at the expense of coherence of the design. Each design should be a little theme, complete in itself, and with a distinct character.



After some practice with square formats, begin generating ideas in circles – again, begin simply and develop your ideas.




Drawing a reasonable circle without using a compass isn’t easy at first. If you want a good method for drawing circles, have a look at this page:

Drawing out a circle.

Once you have created some initial themes, follow the stages in the Simple Symmetrical Themes section: Create variations, and then trace the best in ink.

Have any questions about this stage? Pop over to the facebook group and ask.