Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Contour Drawing

Becky Hill


Students will be introduced to Contour Drawing. They will view examples and non-examples of student contour drawings. After a demonstration of correct technique, the students will produce contour drawings of the top side of their hand.


The student uses two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to solve specific visual arts problems with refinement and control.


-Drawing paper (approximately 9”x 12”)
-Masking tape
-Examples and non-examples of student contour drawings


1. Gather materials—drawing paper, masking tape
2. Gather examples and non-examples of contour drawings
3. Set up materials for demonstration


Note: This lesson addresses using two-dimensional media, techniques, tools, and processes to solve a specific visual arts problem..
1. Write the words “contour drawing” on the board. Ask students to explain what is a contour drawing. After their input, explain that a contour drawing defines the edges of shapes, like an outline.

2. Show examples of contour drawings done correctly. Emphasize the concentration on the edges of objects, noting the absence of values and textures.

3. Direct student’s attention to the inaccuracies and distortions that are a natural consequence of contour drawings. Have them point them out in examples you are showing.

4. Show examples of contour drawings done incorrectly. Explain to students that the lines should be as continuous as possible, not sketchy or broken. Explain that the drawings should avoid retracing, backing up, or erasing.

5. Ask students why an artist would choose to do a contour drawing. After taking their responses, remind them of the previous lesson, “Blind Contour Drawing.” Repeat that the main purpose of this drawing lesson also will be to grow in visual awareness—to learn to observe carefully—to see the way artists see.

6. Inform students that in this lesson they will be drawing the top side of their hands. If they are wearing jewelry, ask them to concentrate on their hand first, adding the jewelry if they have ample time.

7. Explain to students that the difference between this lesson and the blind contour drawings will be that they will be allowed to glance at their drawings. Inform them that 90% of the drawing time their eyes should be focused on their hand. Equate this for every 9 seconds of looking carefully at their hand, they may glance at their drawing for one second.

8. Demonstrate a contour drawing of the hand. Place your paper on an easel or board so that you can face the class, allowing them to see the movement of your eyes glancing quickly at the drawing only to locate a point or check a relationship.

9. While drawing remind them, as in the previous lesson, to pretend their pencil is touching their hand, noting every slight change of direction, skin fold, etc. Also remind them that their eyes and their pencils will be at the very same place on their hands so that when they are drawing the tip of the index finger, their eyes will be looking at that same spot. Call their attention to the slow and concentrated movement of your eyes along the contour while the pencil draws the contour at that same slow speed.

10. Show your completed contour drawing to the class. Point out imperfections and irregularities along with careful recording of details as in skin folds, shape of nails, etc.

11. Instruct students to tape their papers to the desks to prevent slipping around.
12. Encourage the students to look at their hands, not their pencils, pretend the pencil is touching the hand, and to move slowly and concentrate. Tell them this drawing should take at least 15 minutes to complete.

13. Upon completion, have students share their work with adjacent students. Look for and point out strengths and weaknesses in their own work and in their neighbor’s. Allow ample time for discussion and feedback. Move around the classroom from group to group giving feedback and reinforcement.


After viewing and discussing contour line drawing techniques and processes, students will create a contour drawing of the top of their hands using two-dimensional media with refinement and control.
Use completed contour drawings to formatively assess students ability to:
-use a pencil and drawing paper to create a two-dimensional contour drawing
-use a pencil with correct technique to create contour lines that flow continuously to define edges
-demonstrate understanding to solve specific problem of contour line drawing to define object
-obtain information and use it in productive manner
-apply information gathered in previous lesson setting
(see Associated File for Contour Line Checklist)

Attached Files

A Contour Drawing Checklist.     File Extension: pdf

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