Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower | Architectural Illustration: | Sketching Workshops: | Sketches: on Instagram at @stephanieabower & | Urban Sketchers Blog Correspondent | Signature member of the Northwest Watercolor Society

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TIP 10/10: Domes are ROUND!

And here is the final post in this series of 10 TIPS!

Sketching Tip #10: Domes are ROUND!

This may seem rather obvious, but I see so many sketchers draw domes as sort of flattened out the shapes in which the "edges" are drawn as if they were sharp corners instead of rounded.

Domes are essentially a stack of ellipses, each ellipse sharing a common centerline. Take a look at this diagram of the round Radcliffe Camera done in my workshop in Oxford, England last year:

You'll notice that this building, similar to a dome, is a stack of ellipses in perspective.
All the ellipses are centered on one line in the middle that also connects the
very top of the dome with the center of the footprint of the building on the ground.  

You'll also notice that each ellipse gets FLATTER the closer it is to your eye level line.

Understanding this concept points out why the diagram of the flattened dome with "corners" is incorrect, and the rounded dome edge below works much better!

Domes don't have sharp corners!!

The "edges" of your dome should look more like this. They are rounded and
you can see the shape of the ellipse starting to curve behind the building.

And here is the completed sketch! You can see and feel the roundedness of the forms, especially by looking at the rounded "edges".

These same concepts apply to any rounded form. Take a look at this sketch of a building near Piccadilly Circus in London...

I hope you have enjoyed and learned a bit from these 10 blog posts! I will continue to post tips and more sketches, so please sign up to receive these posts by email using the sign up on the bar on the right.

And if you want to learn in person, I'll be teaching workshops next year in Spain and Italy...and more places too! 
I also have two online classes at and a book you can find anywhere, 
The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective.

Thank you so much for your interest, and Happy Sketching!
Remember, don't fear perspective!!


  1. Thank you so much for this series, Stephanie! I am also taking your Craftsy classes. It is so helpful when you draw over your sketches with colored lines that illustrate what you are talking (writing) about. So good for looking for and finding shapes when still learning that skill.

    1. Thank you so much for leaving this message...and for taking the Craftsy classes! Happy Sketching!

  2. These tips are life saving !! Love them you are queen of perspective, mind you your watercolour is as amazing too!!!

  3. Thanks Stephanie, I have taken your classes at Craftsy and love them plus learn so much.
    Life is fun of I Wish............ there are many I wish in all of us. Am so glad that one of
    My I Wish is coming through,
    Sketching adding watercolor to my sketching it’s fantastic. Plus perspective am living what I always wanted to do and never had the time.
    Don’t do much on traveling and sketching on location but am living it through you and others that I follow thanks.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us.
    I have read twice your 10 tips and love all of them.
    Thanks again and many blessings to you always.

  4. I'm SO excited. When I saw the symposium is in Amsterdam next year and told Dan, he said "book it" - we've wanted to go for years and it just never worked out. So, we're going next year!!! My first symposium! We're combining it with a Baltin cruise before then about a week in Amsterdam - AND, we'll be celebrating our 40th anniversary in Amsterdam. How cool is that???!!! Just had to share and I didn't know where else to contact you - guess I could have done FB, but that seems so public. Anyway. I know that you have family there and know the city well, so I'll want to pick your brain about the must=see places.

    1. HI Terrie, just now seeing your message. This is GREAT! I will see you in Amsterdam!!

  5. I have learned so much from these 10 tips. I can’t wait to put them into action. Looking forward to taking one of your Craftsy classes. Thanks again.

  6. Greetings from Hong Kong. I love the ten tips so much and hope there will be more tips to come. Thank you. I just subscribed your online course in Craftsy and enjoyed very much.

    1. Thank you so much, I hope you like the Craftsy courses as well!
      And I love Hong Kong!!!! :)