Techniques - Warm up & Practice Exercises

Contour Drawing Without Looking / Blind Drawing



Betty Edwards suggests (in her book ‘The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’) that this type of exercise creates a shift from left mode to right mode thinking in your brain.   It is an exercise whereby you only sketch an outline/silhouette of your subject and this will therefore assist in developing your drawing technique by first mastering the outline and foundation of the drawing and hence not focusing on all of the minor details within it.  



This technique is similar to Contour Drawing except that in Blind Drawing you will not look at your paper/canvas as you attempt to draw the contour/outline of your chosen picture or object.  This assists in training your brain not to focus on what you are trying to depict but instead to emphasis more focus on your perception, observation and instinct. 




1)  Choose a picture/object to draw (choose simple silhouttes that will have edges that are easy to track to begin with). 


2)  Place the picture/object that you wish to draw at the opposite side to where you are actually doing the drawing so that you will not look at your paper/canvas as you focus on what you are drawing. 


3)  Once you choose a starting point and place your pen/pencil/brush on the paper/canvas, it is then of the utmost importance that you do not lift it up because you will lose your point at which you stop and it is important not to look at your piece until you have completed the task. 


4)  Without looking at your page, only draw the outline of the object. 


5)  The key is to only focus on the lines and the angles that you are copying from the picture and to not think about and identify with what you are actually seeing and drawing.


6)  It's a good idea to time yourself (perhaps set an alarm) and, with practice, you should improve on your speed of this type of drawing.




In this exercise, you will rely heavily on your instinct and you will be amazed by how quickly your drawings, and your speed in completing these drawings, will improve.  Your confidence will grow and allow you to draw without focusing so much on what you are drawing and instead allow instinct to kick in and speed up your sketching.  You will rely heavily on your eyes as you focus and concentrate on tracking the edges of the silhouette that you draw. 



This exercise may take you quite a long time when you first attempt it as you are likely to concentrate very deeply on what you are depicting, however, with practice your confidence will grow and the process will become more innate to you and hence allow you to draw gestures more freely and with more confidence.