Freehand circles mandalaTo draw really good kawaii it’s not necessary to draw perfect circles freehand (although it’s a very cool skill!). As long as the circle is mostly round, it will work!

After all, we are drawing real living kawaii, not machines. And real living heads and bodies are never perfectly round.

What we don’t want is aiming for a circle and producing a potato :).

In this post I will share how I practiced drawing circles for a week and my drawing results (like this freehand mandala design).

This is Week 3 of my personal drawing challenge to learn how to draw kawaii in 6 months.

How I Practiced Drawing Circles

I used to think that I suck at drawing, because my circles were never round… But after some practice (just a couple of days), they got MUCH better!

First, I practiced lots of circles on graph paper. This develops the eye-hand necessary for drawing circles.

Here is a sample page:

circles on graph paper

Example of drawing lots of circles on graph paper

When I felt confident with circles on graph paper, I drew random circles on printer paper (folded in half) and colored around them. This created a fun doodling page! You can wait for a bus and practice your circles at the same time :).

Doodle with circles

Doodles with circles

Another fun way to practice circles is to create designs with them and use as coloring pages. The finished coloring can be a binder cover or a cute message card.

Below is an example of a design I did. The circles are not all perfect, ha. But it doesn’t matter!

Coloring page with circle designs

Coloring page with circle designs

How I Practiced Drawing Believable Spheres

By the end of the week I was curious about how to make my circles look three-dimensional. Like a real head! I tried to draw curved lines over the surface, but they still didn’t look round :(.

What to do???… Use a reference!

I got a $1 styrofoam ball from a dollar-shop and drew the axis on it with a permanent marker.

How to draw believable spheres by using a reference ball

How to draw believable spheres by using a reference ball

Then I used the ball to draw lots of circles at different angles.

3D Spheres

Spheres exercise, perfect for learning to draw faces

This understanding of how to draw spheres will be VERY useful, when I get to drawing heads and faces. The axis show where the eyes and nose and mouth will go. No matter what the angle, I will be able to place the face correctly!

Techniques for Drawing Perfect Circles

When if comes to drawing circles, the biggest factor is “muscle memory”. Your hand needs to know how a circle feels and how your arm needs to move. So in one word: practice.

Second most important thing is being able to complete the circle in one motion. To achieve this, you need to be able to see the space where the circle will go. Move your paper around until you are confident that the circle will not be obstructed as you draw it, and that you have enough space for the hand to move.

Below are a few more tips:

  • Start by drawing lots and lots of circles on graph paper to get used to the motion
  • Experiment with drawing circles in different directions. Sometimes, go left-to-right, then change right-to-left. You might find that one of the directions works better for you.
  • If you become frustrated and unhappy with your drawing results, lower the challenge. Draw something simpler until you become satisfied again. When I first drew the circle mandala (at the beginning of this post), I made if very complicated, and it came out to be a mess! I was upset. Then I simplified it to only 3 layers, and I was enjoying myself again. Phew!
  • Use smaller drawing paper (A5 works well) to make sure that you can easily move the page around
  • If you do need to produce a perfect circle (say, you are drawing a robot), just use a compass or a round object to outline. That’s why we have them!

Materials I Used

Here is a complete list of materials I used this week.

  • Micron pen, black, size 04
  • Artline pen, black, size 04. I’ve always used Micron pens before and I thought they are the best. But I decided to try Artline, just on a whim, and I really like it! It draws smoother than Micron, and it feels more juicy. I still use Microns, when I need a precise line. But I will now add Artline to my tool box for more expressive lines.
  • Tombow Dual Brush pen, black
  • Styrofoam craft ball to use as reference
  • Staedtler permanent marker, black, to draw on the styrofoam ball
  • Graph paper
  • Printer paper (so you can draw with no pressure, if you mess up you can just throw it out!). Fold the paper in half to make it smaller and easier to move around the table. This is very important for drawing circles!
Full disclosure: I personally own and use all of these. If you buy anything using my links, Amazon will pay me a small commission (no cost to you - thank you!). But if you normally shop somewhere else, it's totally ok too.

Drawing Time Diary

Monday, Nov 28: two sessions, 45 min, 1 hr
Tuesday, Nov 29: two sessions, 20 min, 40 min
Wednesday, Nov 30: two sessions, 45 min, 1hr
Thursday, Dec 1: one session, 35 min
Friday, Dec 2: one session, 1.5 hr
Saturday, Dec 3: no drawing ๐Ÿ™
Sunday, Dec 4: one session, 30 min

Total drawing time: 7 hr 5 min