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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Contour Line Drawings

Contour and Cross Contour Lines
Middle School Contour Line Drawing

I introduced my 7th graders to contour and cross contour lines.  As much as they love to draw outlines and coloring book style images (no shading, just hard black edges), this is a challenging lesson for them.  It is difficult to really draw what we see instead of an invented, cartoon version from our mind. 

To start with, I discussed with them what contour line is and how it doesn't actually exist in nature, only art.  Once we had our definition down, we moved on to the concept of hand-eye coordination and how many of them use that in sports and they've probably heard their coaches talk about it at practice(or foot-eye coordination for soccer players).  I explained that contour line is all about hand-eye coordination.  Your eye is tracing an invisible outline around an object and your hand is trying to follow along and mimic that outline.  We started with practice in our sketchbook and I had students draw their hands.  After a few practice drawings, we were ready for a larger drawing and more exciting subject matter.

I set out a variety of still life objects that I found somewhat interesting and knew would have good contour lines...and since I have a thing for dinosaurs, this was the perfect opportunity for me to share my mini collection with my students.  In the past, I've done this lesson with shoes, but I wanted to switch it up this year and I'm so glad that I did!  As much as the students told me that creating these contour lines was difficult, their drawings came out beautifully!  I love the playfulness of contour line and it lent very well to the subject matter we were working with!

A few of the still life objects I offered for this lesson...a few contour line drawings of them are found below

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing

Middle School Contour Line Drawing


We also dabbled a little with cross contour line and did our hands again.    Students lightly traced their hand and part of their arm onto a plain sheet of paper.  They then added cross contour line with marker.  They drew horizontal straight lines for the background and every time they hit part of their arm or hand, they needed to make a "bump" to show the three dimensional qualities of our actual hands/arms.  A lot of the students told me they had seen this on Pinterest or somewhere else online but never knew how to do it and were pretty impressed with themselves

Cross Contour Line Drawing of a Hand
Crosss Contour Line/Hand Drawing