Contour: A Versatile Technique Adaptable to Purpose and Expression

Contour refers to the outline of an object or figure. It involves defining the shape or boundaries of a subject using lines or contours. Contour drawing is a technique where the artist focuses on drawing these outer lines or the outline of an object or figure, usually without adding details or shadows.

The Quality of Contour

A contour can be both hard or soft, depending on the technique or style the artist employs. Beyond defining form, contour can also be used to create movement, a sense of depth, and composition in a work of art. In abstract art, the contour can be very expressive and used to convey emotions or ideas without representing anything concrete.

What is Contour Drawing?

Contour drawing is a technique in art where the artist focuses on sketching or drawing the outline or contour of an object or figure. In contour drawing, lines are primarily used to define the shape or boundaries of the subject, and emphasis is often placed on creating an accurate and precise representation of the outer form of the object.

The primary intent of contour drawing is to create a clear and distinct representation of the shape without adding details like shadows or textures. This makes it a useful technique for drawing exercises, as it helps improve observational skills and hand-eye coordination.

Contour drawing can be done with various materials such as pencils, charcoal, and pens, or even digitally with drawing programs. It can also be part of different artistic styles and genres, from realism to abstract art, where the contours can become more expressive and less bound by realistic forms.

Facts About Contour in Art

Contour drawing can be more than just an exercise in sketching the outline of objects or figures. It can also be a creative technique to highlight certain elements in an artwork or to create visual effects. Here are a few more things about contour:

  • Stylized Expression: In certain art forms, such as calligraphy or graffiti, the contour becomes more than just a description of the shape. It becomes a means to express the artist’s style and emotions.
  • Negative and Positive Space: The contour can also be used to create a play between negative space (the area around the object) and positive space (the object itself). This can add depth and interest to a work of art.
  • Abstraction: In abstract art, the contour can be the primary focus, where the artist creates shapes and lines that do not necessarily represent anything recognizable but still have visual appeal and meaning.
  • Narrative Element: Contour can be used to convey stories or ideas through imagery. For example, a broken or incomplete contour might indicate changes or fragmentation in the subject.
  • Contour in Landscape Art: In landscape painting, the contour can be used to sketch silhouettes of mountains, trees, or other elements, helping to define space and create a sense of distance and depth.

Scroll to Top