Continuous line drawing is a great way to improve your drawing skills. By keeping your pencil on the paper, you are forced to think about the shapes and forms you are creating. This can help you to better understand how to draw objects.
If you are just starting out with continuous line drawing, start with simple shapes. Once you get the hang of it, you can move on to more complex forms. Remember, the key is to take your time and have fun!
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Continuous line drawing definition
Continuous line drawing is a technique in which an artist draws a single, uninterrupted line on a piece of paper, to outline a subject. The resulting image is usually abstract and whimsical. This type of line art can be done with any medium, but is most commonly done with pencils, pens, or markers.
Continuous line drawing exercise benefits
Continuous line drawings can make for effective final pieces, however they can also be used as a drawing exercise to sharpen artists’ skill sets. It can help artists to improve at planning their drawings. Rather than spontaneously starting the drawing at any point, artists will have to assess the best place to start the drawing so that the line flows without being interrupted.
Another benefit of continuous line drawing is that it improves hand eye coordination and artists’ ability to keep their pencil in constant motion. Overall, it’s a great way to practice drawing, as you will be exercising a variety of skills. If you want to try another drawing exercise, contour drawing is a great way to improve precision and confidence in outlining subjects.
How to create a continuous line drawing
There are a few different ways to create a continuous line drawing. The most common way is to start drawing at any random point on the paper and continue drawing until the pencil leaves the paper. This can result in a disjointed and chaotic image.
A more effective way to create a continuous line drawing is to start by planning the drawing. First, decide what subject you want to draw. Next, sketch out the overall shape of the drawing with a light pencil line. Once the basic outline is complete, start filling in the details with a continuous line. This method will result in a more cohesive and well-planned image.
Here are some steps you can take to create your continuous line drawing.
1. Make sure your pencil is sharp
Your materials should give you an uninterrupted pencil line, make sure that your pencil is sharpened, or that there is enough ink in your pen so that it won’t run out halfway through. For beginners, it’s a good idea to start continuous line drawing with pencil, then swap to pen when you’re more confident with your skills. If you make a mistake, just erase the line and carry on where you left off! If you really like a continuous line drawing you made with pencil, you can always trace over it with pen afterwards.
2. Look at your subject and plan the drawing
Analyse your reference and the decide the most practical point to start the drawing. If you’re creating a portrait, it could make sense to start with one of the eyes in the centre of the face, then work outwards and finish with the hair. That way, there will be fewer lines crossing over the whitespace of the face that you may want to keep clear to represent highlights.
Make sure to keep looking at the reference throughout the drawing process, so that you can be sure of where to place each element in the drawing.
3. Place your pen or pencil on the paper
Once you place your pen on the paper, the challenge is to keep it on the paper until you finish. Of course you can stop your pencil in its place to analyse the reference if you need to.
4. Draw the outline of the subject, without removing the tip of the pencil from the paper
As you practice continuous line drawing, you will find more efficient ways to complete a drawing from start to finish, without going over the lines you have already drawn, or crossing over the whitespace too much.
Continuous line drawing tips
There are a few things to keep in mind when continuous line drawing. First, it is important to maintain a consistent pressure on the pencil. This will help create a smooth line. Second, try to keep your hand relaxed. This will prevent the line from becoming shaky.
It’s good practice to spend the majority of the time focussing on the reference, rather than looking at the drawing. This way, you can focus on achieving accurate proportions in your drawing.
Avoid drawing too many details on your subject, as this can confuse the piece. However, adding a few details here and there can add interest to your piece. For example, you could draw around where some of the shadows would be.
Finally, take your time. Rushing will only lead to mistakes.
Examples of continuous line drawings
I made this continuous line drawing of a lion. I started by drawing the left hand eye, then drew the outline of the face, cutting inwards to draw the right hand eye. The nose connects to the side of the face, so I didn’t have to cut across to draw this. Then, I drew the lion’s mane starting from the corner of its mouth, then all the way around and cutting in to draw the ear. This was quite a complex shape to draw with a continuous line, so I had to go back and forth over some of the lines a few times.
If you want to try something easier, start with simple three dimensional shapes, such as fruit, or a vase. It can be fun to also try drawing from life when trying this drawing exercise. For more drawing subject ideas, check out our drawing ideas blog.
Supplies for continuous line drawing
For continuous line drawing, all you need is a pencil and paper. If you want to use pen, make sure it is a fine point so that you can create precise lines. Fountain pens would make a great choice for this purpose. Alternatively, you could use a thicker pen, or a brush pen for a more expressive drawing.
You could also experiment with other mediums, such as charcoal or pastels. Just remember that it might be more difficult to achieve a clean continuous line with these materials. Materials with hard nibs, such as ink markers will provide a continuous line, whereas soft pastels will wear down quickly and may end up looking broken.
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