The Element of Line Unit

Line is a mark made using a drawing tool or brush. There are many types of lines: thick, thin, horizontal, vertical, zigzag, diagonal, curly, curved, spiral, etc. and are often very expressive. Lines are basic tools for artists—though some artists show their lines more than others. 

What are Contour Lines? 


Upside Down Drawing Exercise

What you need:


Step 1: Go through the power point and read over info below

Step 2: Using copies of the handouts, turn image upside down, cover it up with a piece of paper only showing the portion you are drawing, recreate the image (upside-down) on a piece of copy paper drawing SLOWLY.

Line Contour Upside Down Drawing.pptx


A contour is the line which defines a form or edge - an outline. Contour drawing is the place where most beginners start, following the visible edges of a shape. The contour describes the outermost edges of a form, as well as dramatic changes of plane within the form.  Put simply, a contour line drawing is an "outline drawing," that uses no shading.  

A contour drawing is done when the artist looks intently at the EDGES of an object, but rarely looks at the paper while the pencil moves.  The goal of contour drawing is to make a line that is authentic and true to what you are actually seeing, and to train your hand to copy your eye's movement.

There are several different types of contour line drawings:


'Blind contour drawing' is when contour drawing is done without looking at the paper AT ALL.

This helps train you to look more often at your subject than look at your paper.  Staring down at your paper while drawing can be a hard habit to break~


"Continuous line contour drawing' is a contour drawing done without picking your pencil off of the paper.  It is essentially done with one long line.  Continuous line contour drawings can be done 100% "blind" or not.


A "modified contour line drawing" allows you to look at your paper and pick up your pen, using multiple lines instead of one.  

Although not completely blind, the artist should only look at the paper 10% of the time, and at the object 90% of the time.  The artist only looks at the paper to place their pencil when they start a new line


Cross contour lines are drawn lines which travel, as the name suggests, across the form. Cross contours follow the form of the surface area- using curved lines over curving or spherical planes, straight lines across flat surfaces, etc.


It is a classic drawing exercise to:


Your Assignment:

UPSIDE DOWN CONTOUR drawing exercise

Try to copy a contour line drawing by look at it UPSIDE DOWN!  This is another way to get you to actually SEE what you are drawing, instead of drawing what "you think you see." 

Contour Line & Blind Contour Line 

Blind Contour Drawing.pptx

Your Assignments: 

Follow the rules and directions below to create 3 different contour line drawings of your non-dominant hand on a piece of copy paper.  To create your "blind" contour drawings, use one of the paper plates with your pencil stuck through the middle so that you are not tempted to peek. 

blind contour.mp4

Materials you will need:

Remember. . . . 

#1 BLIND CONTOUR of hand with small object

Hold a small object- like pen or pencil- in your hand and do a BLIND CONTOUR drawing of it. DON'T CHEAT!! No looking at your paper until you are 100% done!  It's going to look a bit silly, and that's ok!  It's just an exercise :)

Remember to follow the outline slowly with your eyes and try to match that movement with your hand, this helps train your hand-eye coordination.  Don't forget to draw all the little details, like finger nails and folds of skin! 


This time you will complete a modified contour drawing of hands.  You may look at your paper 10% of the time.  You may pick up your pencil and use as many lines as you need.

#3 MODIFIED CONTOUR of hand holding scissors

This time you will complete a modified contour drawing of your hand holding a pair of scissors.  You may look at your paper 10% of the time.  You may pick up your pencil and use as many lines as you need.  Make sure to include ALL details and go slowly!

Now for your projects. . . . .

Blind Contouring Optical Art 

Materials you will need:


Adding Optical Art 

Contour Line Flowers

For your contour line project, you will be using continuous contour line to create floral images.  



First, choose a printed black and white copy of one of the flower images:

Next, tape a piece of transparency film over your paper image.  Using a continuous contour line, outline your flower and all the shades included in your image.

After you have finished outlining, cut your image out of the transparency film, and set it aside.

Next, get a piece of mixed media paper.  Scribble in some color in the general area of your flower outline.  This does not need to be perfect, but try and add the same colors as your image.  Once you have finished your background, we will use spray adhesive to attach your transparency film to your paper.

Submit a photo of your finished project to this assignment.

Contour Pine Cone and Shoe

Your Assignment: 

Materials you will need:

Contour Line Drawing Pinceone and Shoe.pptm

MODIFIED CONTOUR of still life of your shoe

Set up your shoe in front of you.  Create a MODIFIED CONTOUR drawing of your shoe in pencil.  Remember to look at the shoe more than your paper!  Include all of the details.  Remember that you can "indicate" lighter or darker shadow areas by varying your line thickness.  For example, to indicate a shadow under the shoe, thicken up your line there.

When you are done, neatly go over all your lines with fine-tip marker. 


Your final contour line drawing will be a detailed drawing of a pinecone.  You complete a careful modified contour drawing of a pine cone. Draw quietly and continuously – working hard to shift to the right brain thinking mode. No sketching or shading. Show repetition of patterns and details. Look closely at the pinecone and draw only what you see using inner and outer contour lines.

Go slowly – draw what you see! Vary the width of the lines.Keeping your eyes on the pinecone more than your paper, complete your drawing in pencil.  Go over your pencil drawing with black marker- varying your line width to indicate darker or lighter areas.   

The Things They Carried (Unit Project)



Unit Project

View the power point to the left. Follow the steps and create a drawing of your 

Materials you will need:

Part 1

Part 2

Set up the backpack the way you chose to draw it. Draw BIG and detailed. This is a test grade. 

Part 3️

To the left is the audiobook of chapter 1 of The Things They Carried. If you are not in class when I read Chapter 1, you will need to listen to the audiobook. 

*Warning--There are a few instances of suggestive scenes and profanity as this is a book about men at war. I usually skip over these scenes and rephrase the words. 

Sites that information and images were borrowed from: