Blind Contour Line Drawing


This exercise introduces blind contour line drawing as a method of building stronger hand-eye coordination. Blind contour line drawing is a method of drawing where our page remains hidden from us; we must rely on the translation of an object’s form from our eye, to our mind, to our hand, without being able to self-correct our drawing in progress. This process improves the accuracy of our hand, cultivates awareness of the way our eye wanders over a subject, shares a new way of viewing the subject, and acts as a mechanism for de-skilling. All of these benefits make blind contour line drawing a highly useful exercise, and one that I continuously find myself returning to.

Desired outcomes: accuracy, confidence, efficiency, intuition

Methods: de-skilling, emotive drawing


  • 4 sheets of 11×17 paper (or larger)
  • any drawing media you’d like, but something fairly broad and responsive to pressure is best. markers, felt-tip pens, conte and charcoal are all great


  1. Set up your paper so that you won’t be able to see it while viewing your computer screen. If it is helpful you can drape a light cloth or large paper over your drawing hand to obscure your view. Don’t peek!
  2. Raise your non-dominant hand and pose it for yourself. This will be your subject.
  3. On the left side of sheet 1, draw your hand in 30 seconds.
  4. Re-pose your hand and switch media, if you’d like.
  5. In the middle of sheet 1, draw your hand in 1 minute.
  6. Re-pose your hand and switch media, if you’d like.
  7. On the right side of sheet 1, draw your hand in 3 minutes.
  8. Look at the landscape photograph I have provided (click on it for full resolution). On sheet 2, draw the landscape in 1 minute. Remember: no peeking at your paper! Expect messiness.
  9. On sheet 3, draw the landscape in 5 minutes.
  10. On sheet 4, draw the landscape in 10 minutes.

reflection questions

  1. What application might blind contour line draw- ings have in your everyday design practice?
  2. How did your experience change with the different time limits?
  3. What qualities could you use to describe your resultant drawings? Was there anything that surprised you about them when you first saw them?


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