Contour Line Drawing

Contour, Cross-Contour, Continuous-Contour, Blind-Contour


Contour drawing is an essential foundation in drawing that helps the artist to capture the movement, form or characteristics of an object.

Essential Question:

How do artists use contour line drawings in order to help them build drawing skills?

Artist Spotlight: Alexander Calder

"Above all, art should be fun." -Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder (1898–1976) was born into a family of artists in Lawnton, Pennsylvania. Known as Sandy to friends and family, Calder loved to tinker. When he was eight years old, his parents gave him tools and a workspace where he constructed toys and gadgets with bits of wire, cloth, and string. He earned a college degree in mechanical engineering, but unsatisfied with that line of work, he enrolled in art school in New York City and became a newspaper illustrator.

While a student at the Art Students League in New York City, Calder developed a talent for continuous line drawing, that is, creating an image with one single, unbroken line. He became a skilled draftsman while he worked for several newspapers in the city. Calder took his exploration of line into three dimensions when he began to create sculptures made of wire, a material he had loved since childhood.


Talking Points

  1. What are the differences between a contour line drawing and other types of drawing?

  2. What do you think the benefits of contour line drawings are?

  3. How do contour line drawings show movement?

  4. What do you think is more difficult about contour line drawings?