Contour Drawing

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11868

Some of the most famous artists had what seem to be the strangest techniques. Line drawing sounds obvious, since all drawings require lines, but this is not what you think it is! Try this challenge!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What is the best drawing you could create without lifting your pencil from the page even once? Sounds like a challenge, so read on!

Benjamin Franklin famously said that failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, but sometimes you just have to dive in and do it!

While planning has played a really significant role in some of the great works of art, being able to finally put your pencil to the paper and draw is important.

A good way to practice pen control is through making contour drawings. In making a contour drawing, the artist fixes his or her eyes on the object being drawn, then sets pen to paper and starts drawing. The artist keeps going without lifting the pen from the paper until the work is done!

Does that sound like a challenge? Learn more about how to actually create a contour drawing by reading "Line Drawing: A Guide for Art Students," by Amiria Gale, courtesy of As you read, write down each type of line drawing and a set of instructions for each. Then, share your findings with your parent or teacher, and discuss the following questions:

  • What skills do each of these kinds of drawings require?
  • What special challenges does each kind of line drawing present?
  • Are the works produced by these techniques real works of art or are they just for practice? Why do you think so?

Line drawings can be fun — and frustrating — but they have a simple beauty to them that other kinds of art do not.

In the Got It? section, examine some line drawings by one of the most famous artists of all time: Pablo Picasso.

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