How to Draw a Spiral

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Use a compass to help you draw a precise spiral.
Use a compass to help you draw a precise spiral. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The spiral is a beautiful form that is present in many aspects of nature. While spirals are beautiful, they can be frustrating to draw because -- unlike circles, which can be drawn easily with a compass -- spirals are actually very complex mathematically. These instructions describe the way to draw an intricate spiral pattern called a phyllotaxis, which sounds a little bit complicated but is really easy once you get the hang of it. Draw the pattern in pencil and erase the extra lines once you're done.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Drawing compass
  • Ruler
  • Eraser

Start with a circle. Set the points of your compass one inch apart and draw a circle in the center of your paper. Expand your compass to two inches and draw another circle around the first using the same center point. Expand your compass to three inches and repeat. If your paper is big enough, repeat at four inches.

Use your ruler and pencil to draw two straight lines all the way through your circles through the center point. One line should be vertical and the other horizontal so you will have what looks like a target with a plus sign over it. Now draw two more lines diagonally through the circle, making an "X" shape. It's fine if the angles aren't totally precise, but your target should basically be divided into eight pie pieces at this point.

Begin to draw a spiral. Each pie slice should be made up of two or three small shapes which look like curved rectangles. Use a pencil to draw an "X" in each of these boxes to connect the lower left corner with the upper right and vice versa.

Complete the spiral. When you have finished drawing all these lines, you should be able to see eight rough spirals forming in each direction -- clockwise and counterclockwise. Redraw each spiral section in a curve rather than straight line and your spiral should start to shape up. Finish each spiral by extending the curved line into each central triangular pie section. These lines should extend in a curve from the inner circle to the central point where they will all meet.

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