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Guest Contributor: Sandra Strait on How to Draw a Ribbon

Sue Palmer of Westerly RI, recently emailed “Do you have any ideas or examples of a twisted ribbon – one that would gradually show the other side of a ribbon – especially if it was looped?”. I asked Sandra Strait if she had time to respond to Sue’s request and she replied with this great tutorial illustrating not one but two techniques.

Drawing a Ribbon – Technique 1

Drawing a ribbon is a bit of a parlor trick, actually. You squiggle a few lines and, like magic, you have this elegant swirling thing on your paper.  Like most magic, it isn’t difficult once you discover the trick.

Sandra's Ribbon Technique 1, Step 1 Step 1 – While drawing your ribbons be sure to think ‘S’, not ‘Z’ or ‘O’.  You want nice rounded curves, not corners or circles.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 1, Step 2 Step 2 – Draw a second ‘S’ line, following the original curves as closely as possible.You’ll determine the thickness of your ribbon by the distance between the two lines.  Try to keep the distance even for the entire length of the ribbon, but you don’t have to be exact.You can skip this step if you use two pens or pencils together (see Margaret Bremner’s write-up) to draw your ribbon outline.If you did use two pens or pencils to draw your outline, use only one for the rest of this how-to.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 1, Step 3 Step 3Connect your ends.   Giving them a little curve adds elegance.Ribbons are flimsy so a little ‘m’ shape at the top of your curves is okay, but if they are too noticeable, you might want to connect them.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 1, Step 4 Step 4 – And finally, add some shading on the inside of each curve.

“Drawing a Ribbon – Technique 2”

Drawing a Ribbon – Technique 2

The second technique I’m showing here isn’t very different from the first, and it can look clunky on a very loosely curled ribbon. But it’s great if you want a ribbon that doubles back on itself.

I don’t recommend using two pens or pencils for this method.

Sandra's Ribbon Technique 2, Step 1 Step 1 – Start out as before, with ‘S’ like curves. Make your curves pointier where the ribbon will loop behind.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 2, Step 2 Step 2 –
Draw the ends and sides of each curve.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 2, Step 3 Step 3 –
Then draw the bottom line of the ribbon.
Sandra's Ribbon Technique 2, Step 4 Step 4 –
And, finally, add shading. For this to work successfully, you should have shading in two values, to help the eye distinguish how the ribbon curls.

Check out Sue Jacobs beautiful tangle “Coil”.  The first three steps show you how you can draw a very tightly coiled and straight ribbon.

Have a different way to draw ribbons? I’d love to hear from you!

Sandra Strait's Zentangle featuring Ribbons

The “S” sense of Ribbons by Sandra Strait. Copyright the artist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Used with permission.

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