Have you ever looked at a complex object and felt intimidated by the idea of drawing it? Perhaps you’ve struggled to capture its intricate details and proportions accurately. Many aspiring artists face similar challenges when starting their drawing journey. However, there’s a technique that can help simplify the process and build your confidence as a beginner: contour drawing.

What is Contour Drawing?

Contour drawing is a fundamental drawing technique that involves capturing the outline or contour of an object or subject. Unlike traditional drawing methods that focus on shading and rendering, contour drawing emphasises the importance of observation and hand-eye coordination.

In contour drawing, artists carefully observe the edges and contours of their subject while drawing continuous lines that follow its form. These lines can be either outlines (outer edges) or inner contours (details within the object). The goal is to create a drawing that reflects the essence and proportions of the subject, rather than striving for perfect realism.

Why Contour Drawing?

Contour drawing encourages artists to closely observe their subject, paying attention to its shape, proportions, and details. This heightened observation helps train the eye and improves overall drawing accuracy.

By drawing continuous lines without lifting the pencil from the paper, contour drawing strengthens hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. This can lead to smoother, more confident lines over time.

Contour drawing is also a forgiving technique that celebrates imperfections and encourages experimentation. As beginners see their drawings take shape, they gain confidence in their artistic abilities and become more willing to take risks in their work.

Getting Started with Contour Drawing

  1. Select a simple object with clear contours and distinct shapes. Common subjects for beginners include fruits, household items, or even your own hand.
  2. Find a comfortable space to work with good lighting. Gather your drawing supplies, including paper, a pencil, and an eraser.
  3. Take a few moments to study your subject before you begin drawing. Pay attention to its overall shape, any prominent features, and where the light hits its surface.
  4. With your pencil on the paper, begin drawing the outline of your subject using continuous, flowing lines. Resist the urge to lift your pencil or correct mistakes – embrace imperfection and keep your lines loose and expressive.
  5. Once you’ve captured the main contours of your subject, you can choose to add inner details or shading for additional depth and dimension.
  6. Take a step back and assess your drawing. Notice areas where you succeeded and areas where you can improve. Remember, each drawing is an opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.

By focusing on observation and embracing imperfection, aspiring artists can create expressive drawings that capture the essence of their subjects. So grab your pencil and paper, and embark on your contour drawing journey today!