Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Tip for drawing perfect circles

Published by Manning on July 1st, 2016

A lot of my projects call for drawing various circles to cut out of foam board or poster board. If the exact size isn’t important, I just trace a plate or a bowl or whatever. But sometimes I need a circle to be a precise size, so this is the trick I always use.

Drawing a circle - measuring the radius

I just grab a small rectangular scrap of foam board (or cardboard or poster board) and draw a line on it with a ruler, marking off 0″ and half the size of the circle I want (i.e. the radius of the circle). For this example, I want to make a 10″ circle, so I’ve marked off 5″ on the foam board.

Drawing the circle

Then I poke a hole in both points with an awl (of course you can use a toothpick, a nail, a sharp pencil, etc). Then I lay this shape onto a big piece of foam board, hold it in place at the 0″ mark with the awl, and put a pen through the 5″ hole, and spin the thing around to draw the 10″ circle. Easy!

(One nice thing about this technique is you already have the exact center of the circle marked. Sometimes that’s important for whatever project you’re doing with the circle. If you start by tracing a plate, it’s really hard to find the exact center from there.)

Of course you can also use a compass for drawing circles, but I actually find that to be much harder to do nicely; there’s something awkward about the twisting motion and having to keep the tip of the pen steady on the paper all the way around. My method is way easier, you can make way bigger circles than with a compass, and I actually think it’s much more accurate than a compass when you’re trying to get a very specific sized circle.


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