Blind Contour Drawing

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There is a simple yet powerful little exercise that artists of all ages can adopt to help train their eyes. It is called blind contour drawing and it’s fantastic.

blind contour drawing |

All you need is paper and a pencil or pen (or marker or your finger dipped in pudding- anything that makes a mark.)

Directions: Look at something and draw it.

Real directions: You may not look down at your paper and try to not pick your drawing utensil up from the paper. You slowly draw the outline of the object you are drawing. No peeking! Now, you can see from the examples that if you choose to draw a face, you’re not just drawing the outline of the head. Get in and draw the features as well, but the deal is that you’re not trying to get very detailed.

blind contour drawing |

The idea behind this exercise is to teach you to draw what you actually see. Not what you think you see- kids start doing this so early on, where their drawings, especially of faces, are so stylized with big almond eyes and sideways noses.

This will be frustrating to them at first, because they are comfortable with the sideways noses. The key is to make it fun. And funny. Have them do a few quick sketches and look at them, because they will crack up- they look crazy. Do a few more.

blind contour drawing |


Don’t underestimate this little exercise. The earlier kids adopt this, and the more they do it, the better they will get at drawing.


Join in by drawing their face as they draw yours.

Set a timer and do 3 – 30 second contour drawings, then 1 – 60 second drawing of the same item.

Try drawing different objects- shoes, chairs, lamps.

blind contour drawing |

Craving more drawing games? Go have fun with this list of drawing games for kids.



  1. 09/13/2012 / 7:56 pm

    I remember doing these! I think it must be a great brain workout too because you really have to concentrate!

    • 09/13/2012 / 9:08 pm

      Seriously- I was surprised at how hard I was concentrating while I was doing this with my kids. It’s like drawing meditation. It felt really good to focus so completely on something. huh.

  2. 09/13/2012 / 8:27 pm

    This is such a fun idea. I can’t wait to do this with my nieces and nephews when they come to craft next time. I don’t draw as I get “stressed” about my ability, so this will help to relax me I think. I am taking my first painting on canvas class on Saturday with one of my favorite artists Dina Wakley from AZ. I can’t wait!

    • 09/13/2012 / 9:11 pm

      Your class sounds so fun! Have a great time. And yes, I think this is definitely an alternative when people don’t think they can draw- it warms you up and gets your pencil moving and pretty soon you’re drawing everything you see! (And so will your nieces and nephews.)

  3. Krista
    09/25/2012 / 12:27 pm

    Haven’t done this exercise in ages. It is wonderful for hand-eye coordination though. Thanks for the reminder!

    • 09/25/2012 / 10:05 pm

      Yep, it’s one of those things you forget to do if you have learned it previously. But it’s so effective! And fun, actually.

  4. sara mclennand
    10/02/2012 / 10:05 am

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing

    • 10/02/2012 / 9:45 pm

      Sure thing! Have fun with it- it’s a great drawing exercise, and you can do it anywhere, any time.

  5. Sam Louras
    01/18/2016 / 10:19 am

    Great exercise! Can’t wait till tomorrow’s NO LINES!!!

    • 01/18/2016 / 12:17 pm

      I’m excited about that one, too- I can’t wait to see what people do!

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