Do you like drawing with
colored pencils? You may have already read about essential techniques like blending and varying pressure, but if you wish to create realistic drawings then you need to master the skill of contour drawing.
Contour drawing establishes the outlines of the elements in your drawing, whether it be the edges or the folds or patterns within an object. Here are some tips on developing this important skill and refining your artist’s eye.
Tools for Contour Drawing
It’s best to use a hard or medium-grade graphite pencil. (However, don’t make your lines too thick; use light strokes, with the tip barely touching the paper.) You also need a kneaded eraser for any corrections. Kneaded erasers pick up the marks and aren’t as prone to smearing or tearing the paper as regular rubber erasers.
One tip from professional artists is to do your contour drawing with one of the colored pencils you will be using in the final piece. However, most colored pencils can’t be erased (check the packaging to make sure; or get an erasable brand like Berol Col-Erase.
You may also want to prepare an extra sheet of paper on which you can rest your drawing hand, thus preventing the dirt or oils on your skin from dirtying the paper or smudging the pencil marks.
Prepare the paper
Get your paper. You may want to draw a margin or border around your sheet, to give you enough allowance for framing your finished work.
Contour drawing focuses on values
and hue changes
There are no hard lines in Nature. What our eye perceives as a line is actually a change in hue or value. Even a relatively simple object, like an orange, will have a unique contour—not just its shape but the way the light cuts across it, creating shadows, or the hollows of its stem.
So when you do contour drawing, try to override your eye’s habit of ‘summarizing’ a shape. Our eye tells us ‘the orange is a perfect circle’ when it’s actually not. (Nothing is.) Get you eye to see the object as ‘fresh’ and to follow, faithfully, the curves and the angles where the lines intersect. (You can see this for yourself in this Youtube video tutorial on contour drawing.)
Work fast, then correct
First do a rough outline, and correct only after you’ve gotten the basic shapes and the placement of their shadows. Many art teachers recommend doing several studies in order to become more comfortable with drawing the shapes.
Don’t make hard edges
One of the most common mistakes of beginner artists is to make straight edges or to create highlights that are perfect shapes (like a triangle or circle). This only means that you are drawing what your mind expects to see, and not what you really see. Look closely and you will notice the irregularities.
Work in sections
To make your contour drawing more detailed and accurate break your subject into grids or sections and then work one area at a time. However, add the fine details towards the end of the drawing. Keep things general first, so you can correct any gross errors in proportion or placement. But, as you progress through your drawing, you should be able to add highlights, shadows, then internal contours and changes in value.
Photo from martas-art.blogspot.com