Cubes and Cuboids

Week Starting 21st December – 3D Shapes and sketching

This week we will be looking at drawing basic 3D shapes, using the skills we gained last week in perspective drawing. We will then consider how we can use 3D shapes to help us with our sketching.

Simple ways to draw basic 3D Shapes

Here is a list of basic 3D shapes. A simple way to construct a 3d shape is to duplicate a shape in 2d and then connect between these two shapes with parallel lines e.g. :

  • To create a cuboid we can draw 2 squares and join the corners with parallel lines.
  • To create a cylinder we can draw 2 ellipses and then connect them with 2 parallel lines.
  • To create cones and pyramids we can draw an elipse or trangle and then draw additional lines which converge on a single point

This works OK for shapes with hard lines.

Contour Lines

To draw more organic shapes you can draw the outline of the shape and then create contour lines to show the depth of the object. We are trying to draw lines which appear to wrap around the surface of our object.

Why do these shapes look Three Dimensional?

By adding additional faces, or ‘planes’ which point in different directions, we are creating the appearance of a solid shape which has depth. In a future session we will look at the effect of light on our objects and how this enhances the illusion of three dimensions. But for now we will focus on constructing the basic shapes because we want to use them as a framework for our sketches.


We can apply the lessons we learnt about perspective to create shapes which obey the rules of perspective. Here is an example of a cuboid in 1 point perspective.

Sketching using 3D shapes to build our images

Several weeks ago we created drawings using simple 2D shapes. This works well when images are ‘flat on’ (facing forwards or sideways) and helps us create outlines for our drawing. It isn’t so useful for giving an illusion of depth to our drawings. We can now use the skills we have learnt in this lesson to help us create three dimensional drawings.

External Resources

As with other topics in this series, there are tons of articles and videos online addressing 3d shapes and using them in your artwork to give it a three dimensional quality. Here are a few to get you started..

RapidFire Art Useful article on 2D to 3D