Blind Contour Drawing Instructions

Blind Contour Drawing Instructions

A step-by-step guide that can be used by students or as a lesson plan for teachers.


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.

Click on the button above for a step-by-step guide to blind contour drawings. This plan has multiple rounds, beginning from an eyes-only experiment and building up to still life and portrait drawing exercises. The class can be taught in one hour, including all introduction and exercise rounds. If you can see and you can trace, you can learn this technique.

At the bottom of this page, you will find examples of blind contour drawings. You can click on these images and save the files. Please remember to credit me if you use my work as an example in a lesson. You may find other examples of blind contour drawing online. Please obtain permission and give credit where it is due.

Simple 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.

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

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.

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