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Drawing out a Circle

This is a handy way of laying out a circle that requires no use of a compass or ruler.

Why bother? Why not just use a compass?

Two reasons:

  1. It’s good practice. Being able to draw a reasonable circle is a handy skill to have for the times when you can’t find a compass.
  2. Do you struggle with ellipses? If you change the square at the beginning for a rectangle, you can create pretty good ellipses with this method. With some thought, you can even create pretty good ellipses in perspective.

The Method

First, start with a square. You can do this pretty well without a ruler, but use one if you have to.

circle-layout-1

Now sketch in the diagonals.

circle-layout-2

Now subdivide the square horizontally and vertically. At this point, you have a pretty good idea where the centre of your square is. Now find the distance from the centre to the horizontal or vertical edge. Just use your pencil for this, not a ruler. It’s good practice, remember? This measurement is the radius of your circle.

circle-layout-3

Now take that measurement and measure it out along each diagonal. Join all the points on your circle and you have an octagon.

circle-layout-4

Now all you need to do is to draw your circle around the octagon, making sure that the circle goes through all of the points of your octagon.

circle-layout-5

Here’s a quick video demo of me doing this, so you can see how it’s done.

Obviously, I’ve drawn it much darker that I usually would, using a 6B pencil. Usually, I’d use an H or harder pencil, but the marks wouldn’t show so well on the video!