Circle art by Miles Johnston

4 Tools to Draw a Perfect Circle Every Time

For some reason, people have gotten it in their heads that artists are supposed to be able to draw perfectly symmetrical circles. The absence of this skill leads many to feel like they’re missing some genetic artistic talent and could never learn to draw.

But here’s the truth about drawing perfect circles…

It’s impossible.

Human hands can not draw a symmetrically perfect circle, no matter how hard they try.

Yes, it is something you can get better at with practice, but no amount of artistic ability turns people into circle-printing robots.

This is something pre-computer draftsmen and architects figured out long ago. Thankfully, they developed several ways to make the job a lot easier.

Here we’ll outline four tools you can use to actually draw perfect circles, every time. Oh, we’ll also play a circle-drawing game at the end. 🙂

Staedtler Comfort Quick Set Compass

You might remember using protractors and compasses in middle school for measuring all manner of radiuses and angles. This artist grade compass from Staedtler is an ideal addition to your toolkit thanks to it’s sturdy design and universal adapter.

Using a compass like this is super simple – just put the point end in the middle of where you want your circle and adjust the dial in the middle. This changes the diameter of the circle, which in this case is up to 23″ with the extender!

While there’s a small lead slot built-in, Staedtler also included an adapter that can attach other tools to the compass. Pens, pencils, and even brushes are all usable.

Radial Multi-function Compass

If adjusting the small dial feels too imprecise on the Staedtler above, you might enjoy the foolproof simplicity of this radial compass found on Amazon.

The metal disc goes where you’d like the center of your circle, then a pen or pencil is lined up in one of the holes along the metal arm. The arm rotates around the disc, creating a perfectly symmetrical circle.

The kit can also be used as a ruler or straight edge and… a bottle opener, to celebrate your circle drawing skills. 🍻

Pickett Circle Master Template

Nothing beats the simplicity (and affordability) of a shape template like this one from Pickett. Often used to create blueprints and floorplans, templates like these are available in countless varieties. This “circle master” sheet contains 44 circles ranging from 3″ down to 0.062″ in diameter.

The plastic is also semi-transparent, making it easier to line things up with the drawing underneath.

Makers Cabinet Iris Aperture Ring

If you value craftsmanship above all else, you might want to check out the Iris from boutique stationary company Makers Cabinet. This $128 solid brass drawing tool looks like was pulled straight out of a Jules Verne novel.

The opening in the middle works like the aperture in a camera lens, adjusting between 0.11″ and 2.75″ in diameter. Just place a pen or pencil between the stainless steel “leaves” and draw away.

Could the Iris be overkill for drawing circles? Possibly, but we’re never ones to judge beautiful art tools.

Game time!

draw a perfect circle game

We’ve exposed the impossible truth of drawing a perfect circle freehand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try! We recently discovered a super simple web game where the goal is to draw as close to a symmetrically perfect circle as possible.

Can you beat our high score of 91%?

Not bad for using a mouse!
© Efrain Malo

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