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Pi Symbol: Drawing, Understanding, and Loving it!

Are you ready to see and know the Pi symbol as you’ve never experienced it before? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to see some psychedelic rainbow Pi art! Oh — and we shall also learn this sign’s meaning, use, and history — as well as how to draw Pi correctly.

As background, my name is Lillie, and I’m an artist and teacher who is also clearly a Pi lover — as evidenced by my popular printable Pi Day activities and Pi clothing. Now, let’s explore this powerful symbol.

Pi 3.14
My colorful illustration of Pi: 3.14159…

What is the Pi Symbol?

Independent of math, Pi is a letter in the Greek language alphabet (both modern and ancient) that stands for the “P” sound. The Pi symbol we’re used to in math — as illustrated here — is the lower case version of the Greek letter. The upper-case Pi looks like a square with no bottom. Now, why is Pi important in mathematics?

Pi
My drawing of Pi.

Math and History of Pi

In math, Pi is the ratio resulting from dividing the circumference of a circle (the distance around it) by its diameter (the straight line through its center). The number begins with 3.14159… and continues infinitely from there. Historically, the concept is over 4,000 years old, but the having the Greek letter symbolize it was first introduced in the early 1700s.

There are two cool things about Pi. First, it’s always the same number, no matter what the size of the circle may be that you’re calculating it from. Second, it’s irrational, meaning it goes on forever, with no pattern. Aww — awe-inspiring! Some people even use Pi as a tattoo to symbolize the infinite mystery and wonder of life.

Pi symbol
Pi symbol love.

How to Draw Pi

Like the “and symbol,” the ampersand, there are several different accepted ways to draw the symbol for Pi. To be really simple, you can just draw two vertical lines (like an equals sign, turned 90 degrees), then draw a straight line across on top — resulting in a shape like a T with two middle lines.

More accepted, however, is to add flourishes to the ends of these lines, as I’ve illustrated here in my hand-made drawings. In particular, the left side of the “hat” on top usually tips downward, and the lower right “foot” usually flips upward, as shown here.

Of course, the wild rainbow colors I’ve used here to decorate my Pi symbols are… not standard, so you probably shouldn’t use them on your math homework. I just added them because color (or colour, if you’re British) is my friend, and makes me smile!

VIDEO: Drawing Pi

See a time-lapse video of me drawing Pi!

The Pi Symbol, in Sum

I hope this tutorial about understanding, appreciating, and drawing the pi symbol has been enjoyable and useful for you! In investigating the eternal question, “Why is art important?” it’s exciting to realize that even everyday mathematical symbols can constitute art. Now, what other symbols should I explore next? Do share!

Want more about signs and symbols? Check “how to draw a treble clef,” plus the many ways to draw the beautiful Reiki symbols like Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, Sei Hei Ki, and Cho Ku Rei.

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