How to Make Blind Contour Drawings
Samples from Toronto's Lab Cab Festival

How to Make Blind Contour Drawings
Samples from Toronto's Lab Cab Festival


Blind contour drawing is an exercise in which the artist draws the subject without looking at the paper or taking their pen off the page.

You can find more of my blind contour drawing demonstrations here and here.

You can find more of my blind contour drawing demonstrations here and here.

Blind Contour Instructions:

You will need:

1 subject. You can draw absolutely anything – a person, an object, even a interior space or a landscape.

1 large paper (so you don’t run off the page)

1 clip to keep your paper in place. Use anything that fixes the paper to your drawing surface.

1 reliable drawing tool. I use a sharpie but you can use almost anything that creates a flowing line. A non-mechanical pencil or a digital pen are good options.

A steady surface to draw on. Vertical is preferable.

Elbow room. This is important for all but the most detail-oriented drawing styles. It is especially important for blind contours.

Drawing Steps

Step 1: Set your timer. For your first few attempts, 1 minute is a good amount of time.

Step 2: Secure your paper to your surface. Make sure the paper will not move as you draw.

Step 3: TEST YOUR DRAWING TOOL. It is very disappointing to create what feels like a wonderful drawing only to find out that your marker was only good for the first 10 seconds or so. Test your drawing tool with more than a quick scribble. I love sharpies for this exercise because they are so reliable.

Step 4: Set yourself up so you can not see your paper at a glance. It is very tempting to cheat by using your peripheral vision. Keep in mind that the primary goal of a blind contour drawing is to draw what you see without assumptions. Don’t cheat yourself out of getting real results. It’s okay if your first few drawings don’t make much sense.

Step 5: Fix your eyes on a starting point.

Step 6: Begin drawing. Hold your drawing tool still in your hand. Imagine your eye and your arm are connected. As you examine the object with your eye, move your arm so that you copy what you see onto the page. Do not worry about the picture!

Step 7: Draw until the timer runs out.

Festival Gallery

These are one and two minute drawings I drew during the Lab Cab Festival.

Blind contour drawings are not usually accurate depictions but they do sometimes capture something of the essence of the person.

Here is Empress Cherry Sunday with one of my favourite blind contours, drawn during a children’s festival. 

These blind contours were drawn during a Zoom portrait session with my art group on April 30, 2020. For this session, because I was drawing without looking at the page, I snuck in a few drawings of myself when it was my turn to model. I would love to tell you that nobody noticed but artists are an observant group.

My sketchbooks are filled with blind contour drawings. Sometimes I develop them with colour and shading.

Blind Contour

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