blind contour drawing

Blind Contour Drawing: An Exercise for Beginners

Blind contour drawing is a great way to practice observation and hand-eye coordination. It helps artists, both beginner and experienced, to look more closely at their subjects and create a loose representation on paper. Read on to learn what blind contour drawing is, the benefits of doing it, how to do it and types of contour drawing.

What Is Blind Contour Drawing?

Blind contour drawing is an observational drawing technique and a type of contour drawing, where the artist draws the outline of a subject, without ever taking their eyes off it. The focus should remain solely on the subject while drawing and not on the paper. The intention is to keep the lines instinctual and unplanned.

What Are the Benefits of Blind Contour Drawing?

blind contour drawing example

Blind contour drawing helps to improve hand-eye coordination, as well as observation skills by forcing the artist to really look at their subject without preconceived ideas about what the drawing should look like. It can help train the hand and the eye to better work together, although the results may not look how you expect!

It can help artists break away from details and focus on the overall shape of their subject. The drawing exercise encourages artists to draw faster, which can help with fluidity and confidence in their work. A blind contour drawing can also look expressive and surreal compared to accurate and realistic figurative works. The results can be fun, forcing you to focus on the outline and gesture of the subject, as opposed to meticulous or restrictive realism.

How To Create a Blind Contour Drawing

To begin, choose your subject and find a comfortable position from which to view it. Take your drawing tool—pencils, markers or pens—and position your hand near the paper.

Look at your reference and decide upon the starting point. It may be that you start by drawing your subject’s eyes and work from the centre of the face, or you could focus on outlining their jacket first. It’s important you choose your starting point carefully, as all other elements will be spaced in relation to that one point, and you can’t look at the paper to check where it is!

Without looking at the paper, focus solely on your subject and make a single gesture that moves along the outline of it. Try not to look back at the paper until you have completed the whole form.

If you’re using this as a drawing exercise, try timing your work. You could give yourself 5 minutes to create a basic outline. Then 15 minutes to draw the same subject and try to represent some more of the detail.

Some artists and students, when attempting this exercise will opt not to lift their drawing tool from the paper, until they have completed the drawing. This is a form of blind continuous line drawing. However, it can be helpful to keep the pencil on the paper, to better work out the spatial relationships between objects in your drawing.

The Results

blind contour drawing example 3

Once finished, look and analyse what you have created. It will be likely that there are lots of inconsistencies or inaccuracies in shape or proportion, but that is half of the fun of creating a blind contour drawing! The finished result is not supposed to be accurate, but it will help you to observe and analyse your reference, improve your hand eye coordination and improve your flow with drawing.

If you’re interested in learning more about drawing, check out our complete list of drawing tutorials.