Contour drawing is essentially drawing the edges or outlines of an object to define it. Sounds simple, right? Contour line drawing is a big concept that is easily introduced even at a young age and packs a big punch in terms of learning to see what is front of you! This quick blind contour drawing exercise is sure to bring giggles and learning!
What is a contour drawing…
A contour drawing is a line drawing. Lines define every edge of an object with no shading. Kids naturally draw outline type drawings because they are the simplest form of drawing. Encourage kids that although the words may be fancy and the concepts new they’ve actually been doing this all along! (Great job kids!)
A blind contour drawing…
There are different types of contour line drawing. My favorite is the blind contour drawing. Your student looks at and attempts to draw an object’s contours without looking at their paper. This is harder than it sounds because it is so tempting to look at what you’re drawing. A blind contour drawing may look a little weird. in fact, if it doesn’t, you probably cheated and looked at your paper! Your kids will giggle until the tears come.
I love blind contour drawings for this reason. The pressure to make your drawing look “just right” is totally gone. After all, you can’t even see your drawing! Emphasis becomes on really looking at the object and noticing the intricacies of it. Pick a simple object and ask the kids to really notice each little edge and part. No more drawing what you “think” you know about flowers. (Or whatever you’re drawing.)
A continuous contour…
A continuous contour line drawing focuses on keeping your marker on the paper and slowly moving from one contour onto the next. The line just keeps moving, crossing over itself, and back around without picking your pencil or marker up. The artist may occasionally look at their artwork but the focus is still on looking at subject.
Use whatever form or combination of drawing techniques is most suitable for your student. I love the “not looking” aspect of blind contour drawing but sometime it legit stresses kids out. This is an exercise to help young artists learn to really look and see. It shouldn’t be stressful.
Paper, lot of paper. Lightweight, lower quality paper like newsprint is fine for this drawing exercise. Kids should be free to draw and draw some more as each drawing only take a few minutes.
I also strongly suggest using markers for this type of drawing. (These permanent markers are my favorite because they stay clean and sharp if you want to add a color wash over top!) Using markers also totally eliminates the temptation to try to erase a “mistake.” No erasing! Just looking, and drawing, and keeping on keeping on!
What should we draw…
A contour line drawing can be of anything. There are no limitations to what you “could” draw. But as this blind contour drawing exercise is a lesson meant for kids and meant to be done in a matter of minutes think simple. A single flower, a piece of fruit, a leaf, a favorite stuffed animal- would all make excellent subjects.
Drawing something that your student is super familiar with but asking them to look at it in a new light is always fun. Check out this portrait lesson for kids. It’s not specifically a contour drawing lesson but could be adapted to that very easily. It’s so bright and colorful!
Draw it again & again…
Each contour line drawing that your student does will take no more than a couple of minutes. Encourage your student to work slowly but not to worry about mistakes. Just keep going. Since these drawing exercises are so short I love drawing the same object from different angles.
Just keep turning and drawing. Just because these blind contour drawings are exercises doesn’t mean we can’t add some color! I actually love the look of drawings overlapping and crossing on and off the page. Add a little watercolor wash on top of your permanent marker for a finishing touch.
If kids are comfortable with it it’s so fun to share drawing of the same subjects done by different artists and talk about how they are the same, yet different. Even if everyone starts with the exact same subject every artist will have their own finished product- as it should be!