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Blind Contour Drawing

PROJECT 13  |  03.01.21

MODULE:  Drawing


DURATION:  30 min. - 1 Hour

MATERIALS:  Paper, drawing utensil (pencil, pen, crayon, marker, etc.)


Video Editing by Jorge Davies, Graphics by Melissa Sabol

    OVERVIEW    |

    MATERIALS    |






A blind contour is one continuous line made by very slowly drawing the edges and details of an object or person without looking at the paper. This project asks you to draw what you see in front of you, instead of what your brain remembers seeing. This is a great way to get your mind, hands, and eyes to work together. Your image might end up looking goofy and pieces may be out of place, but that’s a good thing!




Challenges you to see the world with new eyes by using a different process of looking

Exercises the intuitive, nonverbal, and visual right side of our brain

Requires careful observation and attention to details

Trains the eye, mind, and hand to work together

Embraces imperfection

Focuses on process instead of end product

Encourages you to have fun and enjoy making mistakes

Calming and meditative




Pen or pencil





DO NOT peek at your paper. Only look at the object you are drawing.

DO NOT pick up your pencil or pen from the paper.

DO NOT erase.

Draw SLOW. 


Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.

Tape the paper down so it doesn’t move.

Decide what to draw. Will it be another person? An object? Yourself? (You can use a mirror if you want to draw yourself.


Sit directly across from whatever you choose to draw.

Look at your paper and think about how much space you want to use. Will you make it big or small? Try to use the whole paper

Decide where to start your drawing on the paper. 


Put your pencil down at the starting point and begin to draw slowly without picking up your pencil from the paper.

Make sure you draw all the details. If drawing a person, include their eyelashes, freckles, and wrinkles too.

Don’t look away from the object you are drawing, or you may lose your place on the paper.




Turn your object upside down. It will help you notice more details.


Backtrack over parts of your line drawing so you don’t pick up your pencil.


To improve hand-eye coordination, imagine that the pen is touching the edge of the object, not the paper.


Use your pointer finger on the hand you don’t write with to trace the edges of your object while your pencil is moving the same way.


If you’re moving too fast, close one eye.


To help you slow down, pretend your pencil is a snail inching its around the edges of the object.


To prevent peeking, poke your pencil through a piece of paper, hold a paper with your non-writing hand over the paper you are drawing on, turn your body to the side, or draw on a clipboard or notebook under the table.



CREATE 3 Blind Contour Drawings

Make a portrait...of yourself (by using a mirror), a family member, or a friend.

Pick any object that best reflects you...a toy, an animal, or piece of clothing.

Choose something outside...a tree, your home, a car, or the landscape.

Create an account  -  Share your art  -  Be inspired






Now that you’ve gotten the hang of blind contour drawings, try it in different ways:

Blind contour scavenger hunt  Pick different objects from around the house (a plant, an animal, clothing, furniture, dish, anything!).

Blind Contour still life  Gather three objects, place them in the middle of the table any way you want, and make a blind contour. Color it in when you are done.

Blind Contour Landscape  Step outside and draw a landscape or a single image of a tree, house, or mountain.

Double flip blind contour portrait  Draw a blind contour of another person or yourself, then flip the paper upside down and draw another portrait of the same person.

Layered blind contour drawing  Layer multiple blind contour drawings of the same subject on top of each other by using multiple colors.

Blind contour triptych  Draw three portraits side-by-side in different colors.



Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999.jpg

Louise Bourgeois

Bourgeois was a French-American artist who often used symbols, such as spirals, spiders, and cages, to symbolize the challenges and triumphs women often face in their lives. This blind contour of drawing of a spider was a positive symbol of her mom, someone who was clever and protective.

Elisapee Ishulutaq, Climate Change.png

Elisapee Ishulutaq

Ishulutaq was a self-taught Inuit artist from Canada. She grew up traveling and hunting with her family. She took up art to pass down traditions and memories of traditional Inuit life to future generations. Ishulutaq was also invested in educating the community about the effects of climate change, which became a common subject in her work.

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Paul Klee

Klee was a Swiss artist who employed many different art forms, but most famously painting. He even developed his own painting technique, which involved starting with an abstract mark (a dot, line, square, etc.), and allowing it to grow, just as a living thing grows. While not a blind contour drawing, the painting above is a great representation of an artist using one continuous line to create an image.



Observational Drawing  Drawing what you see.

Sketch  A quick drawing of your ideas. A sketch can be used to explore a subject or plan an art project.

Abstract  A style of art that is not representational or based in reality. It might not look like the object it is depicting or look like anything you recognize. 


Contour  The outline of the object that you are drawing. It describes the shape of an object and includes interior and exterior details. 


Line  It is a mark on a surface. It can describe edges, form and movement. A simple way to think of a line is to imagine a point that moves.


Shape  A flat area, such as a circle or a square, that has clear boundaries. A person or an object can be a combination of different shapes.


Form  A form is a three-dimensional version of a shape. A circle becomes a sphere and a square becomes a cube. Forms can also be shapes that are curvy and free flowing, like a shape you would find in nature.


Object  An inanimate (not living) item that you can see and touch.

Subject  The main idea that is shown in a work of art.


Portrait  A work of art showing a person or animal, usually of their face. A portrait can be created using any artistic method.


Still Life  Artwork showing inanimate (not living) items, like flowers, rocks, and fruit, or manmade items, such as furniture and toys. These items can be arranged in interesting ways.


Landscape  Natural scenery, such as deserts, mountains, rivers, forests, etc. 



If you’re interested in learning more about blind contour drawing, here are some great books to explore:

The Natural Way to Draw  by Kimon Nicolaïdes. A Working Plan for Art Study. Houghton Mifflin, 1941.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain  by Betty Edwards.  Tarcher/Penguin, 2012.