Blind Contour Drawing

A Classic Drawing Exercise That Develops Eye & Hand Coordination

blind contour drawing exercise
An example of Blind Contour Drawing. H South

Blind Contour drawing is a favorite with drawing teachers to develop hand-eye communication. Contour drawing is essentially outline drawing, and blind contour drawing means drawing the outline of the subject without looking at the paper while you're doing it. The end result doesn't matter so much -- that's not the point. What is important is the way blind contour drawing gets your mind off what you're putting on the page, and puts it back where it ought to be -- on your careful observation of the subject.

Here are some Blind Contour Drawing Examples you may find helpful. 

Blind contour drawing doesn't necessarily mean that all you're going to try to draw in this "blind drawing" exercise are the contour lines that outline your subject. It's OK from time to time to let your pencil wander away from the contour and into the interior of the drawing, capturing important details along the way. You may find that the spatial relationships between your contours and the details you've included will be totally wrong -- that can happen. But you may also find that because you're not looking at your drawing and letting your expectations of what "it ought to be," guide you, the details you've drawn may include important aspects of it that, when you're looking at what you're drawing, you may leave out. 

But a blind contour drawing can also be generated with a single pencil stroke, where the tip never leaves the paper.

 It's also important not to peek. If necessary, work with your sketchbook under the table. Sometimes it's can be helpful to tape the corners of your drawing paper to the table so that it maintains the same position throughout the contour drawing.

Here's a synopsis of the contour drawing process:

  • The Aim: Practice following the contours of the subject of your drawing with hand and eye without looking at the drawing itself. Remember that occasionally filling in a detail can help you see what you may otherwise be missing, but that in general your object is to create an outline of the subject with one continuous pencil stroke. 
  • What You Need: A4 sketch paper and pencil or pen.
  • Making the drawing -- pick some simple object. Sometimes, as you're beginning, you'll find you'll make progress more rapidly by drawing another drawing of a face rather than the subject's face itself. Rectangular objects provide interesting challenges because at some point you've got to close the rectangle without looking at the drawing. It's harder than it looks!

Going Farther

Once you've  had some success with blind contour drawings of simple objects or even of other drawings, you can try this exercise with other objects, such as leafy plants, children's toys or furniture. When your skill level allows it, drawing someone you know or a household pet can be both instructive and, let's face it, the results can be pretty funny  as well as great observational practice.

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