Overcome Creative Blocks with Blind Contour Illustrations | Stefanie D'Angelo | Skillshare

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Overcome Creative Blocks with Blind Contour Illustrations

teacher avatar Stefanie D'Angelo, Artist, Illustrator, Eater of foods

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Materials You Will Need


    • 3.

      About Contours


    • 4.

      Blind Contour Practice


    • 5.

      Painting Blind Contours


    • 6.

      Blind Contour Object Demo


    • 7.



    • 8.



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About This Class

When your art practice becomes a bit of a chore, work in some blind contours to remind yourself that you can still make really, really, really ugly art! :) This class is recommended for beginners to seasoned artists. Whatever level you are at, you can adapt this exercise to fit your needs!

Blind contour drawings are an exercise where you draw things without looking at your paper or lifting your pen. You follow the contours of your subject with your eyes, and translate that information to the paper. In addition to being an excellent exercise for training your brain to see objects, it's also a great exercise for learning to go with whatever is on the page and make the best of it. Some of these drawings will be ridiculous. Portraits can be downright terrifying. But after we paint our sketches, we'll have recognizable-ish objects that have tons of character!

Blind contour drawings are my favorite way to restart after a draining project, or after a bit of a creative rut. 

In this class you'll learn how to observe subjects by studying their contours. You'll learn how to be okay with whatever weirdness comes out of your pen. You'll do a lot of problem solving, and you might even work through some anxieties (it's like therapy, but with weird-looking art at the end!).

I encourage all levels of artist to give it a try. And don't hesitate to ask questions in the discussions! I'm here to help you have a less precious relationship with your art so you can explore, and expand, and move toward your art goals!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Stefanie D'Angelo

Artist, Illustrator, Eater of foods


Hi! I'm Stef. 

I'm an artist and illustrator. I'm curious and inspired by just about everything.

I have one Skillshare class. You can find it here!

Follow me on Instagram for all my good, bad, and ugly artwork. ;)

Visit my website (linked over there *points to the left--your left, but also my left*) for art that was interesting enough to get scanned and uploaded.

See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Hi. Do you like making art that is hard to look at? Well, then take this blind contours class because you will have some terrifying artwork. I'm stuff. I'm an artist and illustrator and this is my first skill share class. I am totally terrified. Blind contour drawing is an exercise where you draw things without looking at your paper in this class, I'm going to show you how I used blind contours as a practice in my art and as a exercise too boost my creativity, but also kind of get me out of those places where I'm really focusing too much on like my art being precious. And I just really need Teoh kind of loosen up and just kind of make some really ugly stuff . So for your project, you will complete, uh, a blind contour illustration of an object and a portrait. You can pick any object or any person's face that you want. I will also include some reference images so that you can use those should you not be able to find an object or a face. So come along and let's make some really ugly art 2. Materials You Will Need: All right. So here is everything that you need in terms of supplies. Paper. This is a mixed media pad. You want something that can take a little bit of water? You got a pen? This is a beautiful pen. It's got waterproof ink in it. You want some waterproof ink if you're going to be painting over it so that you don't bleed your ink into your painting Paints thes are watercolor pans. I like using pans. I think they're a little more convenient to maybe less messy than tubes. You need some brushes. These are a watercolor brush there amid grade. Not too expensive, not especially cheap. You can use something cheaper like these little craft brushes. I would recommend avoiding these guys that have this, like flat top haircut happening. They're just going to likely frustrate you. You can also use water brushes. These are nylon tipped brushes that the water is stored inside and you use the water in the brush as your water. I like them when I'm kind of out somewhere. I don't want to have a a couple, a jar of water. But I'm going to use regular brushes. A jar of water and then you want paper towel for blotting. And then all you need is kind of and a rail. See what we've got here. Random strange but interesting objects that you can draw from. And I'll also provides, um, pictures to draw from the I do highly recommend drawing from tangible three dimensional objects. It makes a bit of a difference in your brain. 3. About Contours: So what are contour lines? Contour lines are the defining edges of forms mostly pertaining to the outlines of things. So, like, this would be you're real But it also includes, like the defining lines within the form. So, for example, I have here a teapot. His contour lines would be, you know, like the lines around the outside. If we're drawing him, they would also be like this line running this way. The lines here, some of these he's got some cool little ridges, um, things that define his shape. So what contour lines don't take into account is any kind of value or shading. Blind condors are outlines that you draw of objects and things without looking at your paper. So you focus your eyes on your object and you draw while your eye follows the contours. So tiny teapot. I'm going to be looking at him right? And from he's awfully dirty. Yuck. Uhm, I'm going to start looking somewhere of the top, and I'm gonna follow his contours with my eyes while I draw on my paper without looking so my hand is going to mimic what my eyes were doing. And then when you're done you look down at your paper and you have a reaction because you have no idea what it looks like under there. So why are blind contours a good exercise? Well, blank contours are a great way to train your brain to observe objects as they are. All right, let's do some practice. 4. Blind Contour Practice: All right. So start all you're going to need is your paper, your pen and a couple of your subjects you're gonna find it's a little easier to not look at your paper if your subject is, like, far enough outside your peripheral vision that you know, your papers, not still in it. So I'm gonna try to move this guy so that I'm not looking. Um, I'll also sometimes, like, put my hand kind of just under my eyes. So I'm not looking at the paper. You put a book in front of your face. Um, whatever you have to do to kind of keep yourself from seeing this. Now, I'm gonna just start somewhere on this object. I usually tend to start like, somewhere near the top of an object and then work my way down. But it kind of depends, So I'm just going to start drawing a bunch of different subjects. I'm not really going to concern myself too much with details just kind of enough to make it obvious. We're looking at So like, the label is tricky. Kind of Get that in there, make it look like something. Um, but there we go. That's my first shape. That's out of the way. Let's try it with my tape dispenser. Mr in the back corner for him. Not sure why? So you'll notice as your drawing. You're kind of having to make a lot of decisions as to where you want to go, especially for something like this that has a few different elements. Like I'm afraid to get too far away from the tape because I think that I'll end up kind of losing where I am and then backtracking is kind of difficult. Um, the beauty here is that I have no idea what this looks like, and we're just go with it, Okay? That looks nothing like the state dispenser. These can get absolutely horrifying. All right, let's go with the duck. Um, yes. I'll put the duck over here. You might draw off the page. You might draw into something else. That's fine. If you're really if that makes you really weirded out, you can always start on another piece of paper or Picca a wider spot. Oh, art is fun. All right. I'm a pig here. I don't even know where to start with him. Start somewhere near his Whoa. He's kind of cute, actually. All right, let's see, where do I want to go? You know, I'm gonna go with this. Cool. Uh, you know, I'll do the normal than our old twins first. Try to do these guys and leave myself a little room. It's start like this. - Okay . Any eyeballs in there? Oh, boy, Those look so awful. All right, so I'm gonna keep those subjects that I used, and now we're gonna paint these. 5. Painting Blind Contours: we have our subjects and our contours. So when I'm looking at my subject, I'm going to be looking for the differences in the values of it. So if we're looking at this ink bottle, we can see that there is. It's darker, kind of around the edge of the school. She top. It's darker in here. There's dark lines running down this way and that side. And then there's highlights kind of in and around this middle portion is reflecting light, so it looks a little lighter. And then obviously the label is awfully late. I'm depending on how you have that situated on a table. Wana prop it up this way. So it looks the same as it did when I just showed you Do you, like no excessive? That is super not working. You stay there. There we go. Right. So this guy is black ink, So I'm just gonna mix up some black. And for these types of sketches, I really like to, um, just kind of attack them and go in with kind of the darkest colors first, Um, and obviously we have no idea where anything is, so I'm just gonna pretend like a following some kind of guideline here. Him And he was kind of this way when I drew himself, put him back down like that. There we go. That's better. That's darker. There we go. So, um Alright, so I've got all the darkest areas kind of taking care of. I'm gonna come in and do the label here a bit later. Make have a little bit of, but different. It's like a Payne's gray just for a little. Here we go. Better color match. I want to try to leave highlights. If I can. You can always go back in after with Hey, uh, I could gel pen or something to kind of fix it, but if I can leave the highlights I tried Teoh return. All right, so I'm gonna let that one dry, and I'm gonna move onto my next thing, which is why it's great to, like, do a bunch on a page because, well, this one's drying. You can get started on this guy. So I'm working in this really kind of sketchy, quick way of painting where I'm not trying to concern myself too much of details. I'm just focusing on, like, the larger values and like the differences between, like, lights and darks and trying to keep those separated. All right, I'm gonna let that one dry. What is this thing? Three. It's the duck for a little duck. He's also extremely dirty, which is kind of gross. But luckily, I've got some gross colors on my palette that I can use. He also only has one eye. My goodness. So I got when I podunk. All right, we'll come back to him in the second now for us to pig gray and then the normal friends. So I'm gonna wait for these to dry a little bit, and then I will come back and probably do another layer. You can leave them like this. They're loose and sketchy, and they look, you know, kind of phone, or you can come back and do a little more detail on them, which is what I'm gonna do. All right. So I'm gonna add a few more details just to kind of make these look a little more interesting and easy to, uh, identify. This isn't totally driving on. Running out of patience. This whole kind of process is gonna fuel. Very messy and uncomfortable, but that's okay. Doesn't kind of the last thing to really, you know, give your sketch. Some dimension is to add a shadow where it kind of hits the table. My light is coming from like directly above, so unfortunately, it's not really giving me a good shadow. There's a little bit of one kind of coming off. Just kidding. That's just the stain. Um, there's really not much shadow. If you see my hand, the shadow is gonna be underneath it. But we can just kind of fake one a little bit to kind of give it a little more interest, just so it doesn't look like it's floating and nothingness. And it doesn't have to be even anything nice. That's just a bunch of shoe. Oops, and it works for some of the detail stuff. I'll usually come back in with the smaller brush and try to define a few details or something, characteristics of the objects that are interesting. At this point. I'm also trying toe, you know, really dark in the shadows so that it gives Thea the illustration a little bit of shape. Go. They have no eyeballs 6. Blind Contour Object Demo: Okay, so let's draw our object. Pick something. It could be one of the practice objects that we used. It could be one of the photographs that I provide. It could be a totally different thing you find around your house. I'm going to use this adorable a little teapot that I have. Yeah, I'm going to get stirring it. Oh, that's not too bad. Some civil at my ink dry for, I don't know, maybe a whole minute. I have replenished my water, so it's nice and clean, and I'm just gonna start mixing up some colors. All right, so all I'm going to do now is let's this dry. 7. PortraitDemo: So the last part of your project is to make a blind contour portrait. So these are pretty easy to do. They're definitely gonna look really weird, but that kind of makes them more fun. So I have chosen to use a portrait of Freddie Mercury. I'm providing the image that I'm using, which I have converted to black and white. More on that later. But you can choose any face that you would like to draw. All right, so let's get started. I like to let me have toe my image bigger, so I can't see my drawing it on the screen. I like to start somewhere around the eyes. I just find it kind of keeps me, like, on track better. It kind of helps my brain visualize where I am when I when I start with with the shape of the head, things get super weird in the middle, and then it's hard to kind of make anything out of it. So I'm going to start. You still here? Oh, God. Okay, well, at least he's got two eyes and like a pretty discernible face. Um, I always struggle with, like what to do, like mustache and nose overlap. Like which one kind of takes precedence. But depending on the level of detail you want to go into with this, I mean, you can kind of paint these upto kind of realistic but misshapen. Um, I like to go for something kind of in between, but I'm going to start with be smallest, darkest details. Just that I have, Um okay , so remember when I said I would talk about the reference image in black and white? I like to put a portrait image in black and white so I can use one color to paint it. This allows me to just focus on the value. So the darks and the lights versus having to think about different colors and different hues. I can only focus on darks and lights. It makes it an easier exercise. And then I'm able to put my focus more on adding some of the details and the features that distinguished this face from other faces, which is what ends up making portrait's look a recognizable. So it doesn't matter what color you use. Pick your favorite color. You can mix it up, but you wanna start by working with a D saturated reference photo. Right. And when you are done, you can, right? Who it ISS. So when you're looking through your sketchbook, you can identify his face. 8. Conclusion: so thank you for taking my very first sculpture class about blind contours. Hope you learn something and you have a new exercise to add to your You know, your drawing practice for your painting practice. You don't have to show anybody any of your blind contours, but I would be super excited to see any of your sketches for your projects. So please upload those. I will comment and like and give any advice. If you have any feedback about my first class, I would also love that. Feel free to post in the discussions. You can use the hashtag on Instagram or Facebook and I can see your stuff and give you, like, thumbs up emojis or, you know, sometimes a piece of cake or something. So yeah, back.