Book a Class

Contour Drawing

drawing ink and watercolor sketchbook watercolor Feb 01, 2020

Contour line drawing of my Betty Boop Lunchbox... with added lines to create value.

I like the definition of a contour line that I quote below.

"Contour Line: in art it is a line that defines an edge or form. Contour Line Drawing: the artist only draws the lines that follow the visible edges of a shape as well as those along the important interior shapes. Blind Contour Drawing: artists draw contour lines without looking at page or pencil." (quote from

I continue on a daily basis to explore forms around me by creating contour drawings in my sketchbooks.  Sometimes I add color and sometimes I don't. 


Sometimes I add additional parallel lines to the shapes with the intent of transforming the shapes into shapes of different values (lights, halftones and darks). 

I believe contour drawing is the most fun and the most direct path to mastering drawing skills.  Why?  Because by creating contour drawings I am forced to SEE more, SEE shapes I hadn't noticed, SEE variations in surfaces that I was blind to.  In addition to SEEing more and SEEing more truthfully, I develop my eye hand coordination.  I learn WHAT to look for when I'm drawing and painting. I find that it is totally enjoyable to create contour drawings. The results can be pretty wonky at times ... and yet, the drawing appears to have life and personality. Contour drawings are never boring and always make me smile.  I learn so much more when I'm enjoying myself. AND, I end up drawing far more often. Drawing on a consistent basis cannot help but lead to mastery.

Almost every drawing I do either starts out as a contour drawing or includes elements of contour drawings.  Eventually, after working with various techniques (gesture, contour, squiggly line, rendering) the combination of techniques becomes second nature.


Drawing Alternatives I

A variety of drawing techniques are presented in the online course Drawing Alternatives I.  This course is a great place to start to experiment with different tools and different approaches to drawing,  It is meant to help you discover a technique that will be fun for you, one that will keep you inspired to develop a daily sketching habit.  Learn a bit more about the course.



Join my mailing list to receive notification of new blog posts and update on the  online courses.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.