Blind contour drawing

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Blind Contour Drawing of Feet, by M. Gunn

Blind contour drawing is a drawing exercise, where an artist draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper. The artistic technique was introduced by Kimon Nicolaïdes in The Natural Way to Draw, and it is further popularized by Betty Edwards as "pure contour drawing" in The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.[1][2]


The student fixes their eyes on the outline of the model or object, then tracks the edge of the object with their eyes, while simultaneously drawing the contour very slowly, in a steady, continuous line without lifting the pencil or looking at the paper.[2][3][4]

Blind Contour Drawing of a Young Man's Face by J.D. Cabe
Blind Contour Drawing of a young Japanese Maple tree, 2019, K Henry-Choisser
Blind Contour Drawing of a young Japanese Maple tree


Nicolaïdes and Edwards propose different ideas of why blind contour drawing is an important method of drawing for art students. Nicolaïdes instructs students to keep the belief that the pencil point is actually touching the contour.[1] He suggested that the technique improves students' drawings because it causes students to use both senses of sight and touch.[2] Edwards suggests that pure contour drawing creates a shift from left mode to right mode thinking. The left mode of the brain rejects meticulous, complex perception of spatial and relational information, consequently permitting the right brain to take over. Blind contour drawing may not produce a lifelike drawing; however, it helps students to draw more realistically, rather than relying on their memorized drawing symbols.[2][4] Blind contour drawing trains the eye and hand to work as a team, and it helps students to see all of the details of the object.[4]

Some artists use contour drawing to warm up for a drawing session.[5]


  1. ^ a b Nicolaïdes, Kimon (1941). The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-53007-5. OCLC 700158.
  2. ^ a b c d Edwards, Betty (1999). The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher. ISBN 978-0874774191. OCLC 41504541.
  3. ^ Wilger, Devin (2014-08-14). "New at the Godfrey Dean – a document of life on the rails". Yorkton News Review. Retrieved 2014-09-10.
  4. ^ a b c Ching, Francis D. K.; Juroszek, Steven P. (2013). Design Drawing. John Wiley & Sons. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-118-06158-9.
  5. ^ Edwards, P. 92 (sidebar)