Blind Contour Drawing: My Go-To Exercise for Boosting Creativity | LaurieAnne Gonzalez | Skillshare

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Blind Contour Drawing: My Go-To Exercise for Boosting Creativity

teacher avatar LaurieAnne Gonzalez, Painter | Dog Lover | Bob Ross Wannabe

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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.

      What is a Blind Contour?


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Practice 1


    • 5.

      Practice 2


    • 6.

      Paint Prep


    • 7.

      Paint Sketch


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Don't skip this one, people. Blind Contour Drawing is a game changer for your art practice!

In this class, I am going to teach you how to do one of my favorite exercises that not only is fun but is a GREAT practice to improve your skills as an artist and will get you out of a creative rut! All you need is a pen and paper! 

Supplies used:

Moleskine Sketchbook

Big Square Sketchbook

Micron pens

Golden paint 

Watercolor paper

Golden gesso


*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will make a commission, if you click thru and make a purchase.

IMPORTANT: The paintings you create from my class examples are for learning/educational purposes only. Those paintings or ones heavily inspired by my class example (or my other work) cannot be sold or reproduced in any way. All of my work is copyrighted and that is a violation of the copyright. Please stick to painting from my class examples only (not from other work on my website) or work from your own inspiration photos.

Meet Your Teacher

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LaurieAnne Gonzalez

Painter | Dog Lover | Bob Ross Wannabe

Top Teacher

Hi Friends! I’m LaurieAnne and I am a full time painter in Phoenix, AZ. I mainly work in acrylic to capture all of my travels in paint but I also teach online painting classes and created a course I offer to professional artists on my own website called Art to Print where I teach artists how to make professional quality prints from their original art. 

Subscribe to my newsletter exclusively for artists and be notified of new course announcements.

To keep up with what I am doing, hop on my email list or follow along on Instagram! 

With this link you get 2 free weeks of Skillshare Premium. Feel free to share it with your friends and family!

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] Hey everyone, I'm Lauren and I'm a full-time painter in Phoenix, Arizona. I mainly work in acrylic to capture all of my travels and paint. But I also teach painting classes and I created a course I offer called art to print, where I teach artists how to make professional quality prints from their original artwork. Blind contour drawing is one of my favorite tools to use as an artist. It is a really, really fun way to bust through creative blocks or if you're in a creative rut or if you just need to loosen up and it's even an excellent tool to refine your skills as an artist in a really short amount of time. This class is all about the process of blind contour drawings. I'm going to show you how to do it, how it's helpful, and then I want you to take what you learn and apply it to your own subject matter. My favorite thing to do with blind contour drawings is to draw plants. If you've got a plant nearby, grab your plant piece of paper and a pen and I'll see you in class. 2. What is a Blind Contour?: Hello everyone. I am so excited about this blind contour class because blind contour drawing is one of my absolute favorite practices as an artist, and I can't wait to share it with you. Let's first go over what exactly are blind contours. Let's start first with what is a contour. The contour of this paint tube is the outside outline of the paint tube. If I were to draw this, I would draw basically just the outline of the paint tube. A blind contour drawing is where I draw the outline of the paint tube but I don't look at my paper at all, so it's blind. Imagine if I were looking at my paint tube and drawing it but I hid my pencil and the paper from my eyes, I couldn't see what I'm drawing and I draw the paint tube like that. Actually, let's just do a little example so it's very clear what I'm talking about. I am looking at the paint tube, but I cannot see my paper or my pencil at all. But I'm slowly just looking at the paint tube and drawing it. Pretty funky looking. Well, this is pretty much what you'll probably get on your first few tries of drawing blind, but it is so much fun and it's such a great practice because what it does after you practice more, your eye and your hand are going to start lining up. Say you can't see what you're drawing, but you're really just training your eyes and your hands to look at the object and draw the object together in unison and it's really fun. Let's actually move on from this because it'll make more sense as we look at examples and as we practice. The reason why blind contour is so good is because like I said, it just really train your eye to really look at what you're drawing and to match it up with your hand. You really just improve your drawing skills a ton by doing something like this. All right, I want to show you some examples of blind contour drawings that I have done in the past. This is when, I think I was drawing every single day. I think I was doing 100 day project for this. My favorite subject matter to draw when doing blind contours is plants. It's because they can look really funky. Even if they don't look good, they still look really interesting and can just give you some really interesting shapes and this is one of them. This is just a plant that I always had on my desk. Let's just flip through some of these examples. You can see the leaves, here's a leaf and then there's a little leaf and there's another leaf. You can pretty much make out the leaf shapes. All right, moving on. I love this example. This is a pine cone that I was drawing, which just is really fun looking. I love it. Then this top page is also one of my favorites. This is a walrus. I love this walrus so much. That's also a walrus. This is Hazel, my dog's head. You can see her little ears. Those are also pine cones [LAUGHTER] But as you can see, it's never going to be perfect, but it's going to give you some really interesting shapes. The more you practice, the better you will get, which is what you will see as we move forward. This is the same exact plant that I was drawing in the first example I showed you. But look, you can see I've got so much better already and that was just with a little bit of practice. All right, let's move on. Here is when I started drawing some tulips that I had on my desk for a really long time and they were slowly dying, but they had the most interesting shapes. I drew them a lot. This was one point and then you can see I started getting better. Actually, this is a funny drawing. This is Hazel [LAUGHTER] It's a little scary looking, but you can see her ears, her eyes, and her nose. Those are the tulips. I'm getting better with tulips as I go. I love these drawings. This is what's so cool about blind contour is you eventually get so much better and you get really cool drawings, these tulips are so neat. I love them so much. All right, last example is a self portrait. This is probably one of the easiest things you can do, especially if you live with someone or you have a friend who draw is do a blind contour, drawing of their face, or look in a mirror and draw your own face. Or like I did, you can draw your pet. It's really fun. Actually, that's a pretty fun activity to do with a friend. Look at each other and draw each other's face and then you will have many laughs believe me. It can be really fun and funny at the same time. 3. Supplies: I am going to be looking at a plant that is on my desk right now. We're just going to do some practice drawing. The plant I'm looking at is right over there. I will pull up a photo so you can see what I'm drawing. Let's just start practicing. I'm going to talk through my practice in process so that you get an idea. We'll just do a bunch of different ones. You can either draw from the photo that I provide or if you have a plant, grab your plant and draw from that, or really anything. You can literally do a blank contour drawing of anything. But I'm going to start with a plant and I'm just going to talk through my process so you can see the way I think. Let's just get started. It'll be easier as we go. I usually like to start from the bottom and I am just slowly going up the plant. Try to match the amount that you are moving your pencil or pen with the same speed you're moving your eyes up the plant. Imagine you're watching a little ant crawl up the plant and just follow it. Just go everywhere that little ant goes. Now we've reached a leaf. The cool thing about this is that you're going to see things in 3D so you're going to have some funny angles. That leaf, I just looked down at my paper so I can make sure what I'm saying is making sense to you. I did cheat a little bit. But this doesn't really look like a leaf. It's because the angle of this leaf is pointing away from me so it looks weird, but in the end, it will look really cool. I'm going to keep going and I'm not going to look at my page. Also very important, keep your pencil or pen on the page at all times. Try not to pick it up. Try just to do as much as you can in one continuous drawing. Like my plant right now and you can see there's two branches, so I'm going to try to do the right branch with one continuous drawing and then when I'm done with that branch, then I'll pick my pencil up, start from the bottom and do the second branch. Let's just keep going. I am just following my little ant. You can go as slow as you need to go. It's probably better actually to go slow, especially when you're first starting because it's not the easiest. Actually it is really easy. It just takes patience and it takes just learning to line your eyes up with your hand. But it is literally one of my favorite things to do. I love this. Especially if I'm going to create a block, I love doing blank contour drawings because they're not going to be perfect so that pressure is off of you. You can just do something and then you get something creative, you get something interesting looking. I don't know, it just does something good for creative blocks so definitely try this practice if you have a creative block. I am going to come down the plant because I've missed a leaf over here. Let's see. Wow, that's really funny looking. I'm going to start on the second branch now. I have this bear old leaf that is just droopy. This is going to look funny, which feel free to to omit stuff, to edit stuff out. I didn't have to draw that leaf. I could have just skipped it just for making my drawing look as prettier interesting as possible, but it's up to you. Do whatever you want to do. My pencil got stuck in the paper. Just try so hard not to look at your paper. That is the hardest part of this whole thing is just making sure you're not looking at your paper and just imagine the little ant crawling along. If you're drawing on paper, I prefer ink, I usually don't use pencil. It's up to you whatever feels best. Just if you do drawing with pens, awesome. If you like drawing with ink, awesome. Wow. That's a mess, but I love it. Let's keep practicing. I'm going to draw with a pen this next time. 4. Practice 1: Now that we've looked at some examples, let's talk about what do you need to do a blind contour drawing. All you need is a sketchbook here or this one, or just a piece of paper and a pencil or a pen. I personally really like these micron pens. They are waterproof when you're using them on paper. For example, I drew these with the micron pen and then I watercolored them and they don't bleed. You can see the edges aren't bleeding or anything. They're really great for working on paper with watercolor. This is a strip of primed or Gessoed watercolor paper, I had primed it with Gesso, and then I drew with these micron pens, and then I went over with water and they smeared. These are not waterproof when on acrylic-primed paper. But they are if you just are working on watercolor paper. That's great. But if you are wanting to paint or draw a drawing and then paint on it later on acrylic-primed paper, use a pencil because it doesn't smear. I tested it right here. Let's move on. All you need is something to draw with and a piece of paper, so simple. 5. Practice 2: Feel free to rotate, like whatever your subject matter is that you're drawing with, feel free to rotate it and change it up. This looks like a good size. I'm using a size 1 Pigma Micron pen, and let's see here. I'm going to rotate my plant a little bit. There's a little bitty plant like at the base of my plant that I'm going to draw. I want to try to get more detailed with this, and just slowly. One of the things I love about doing this is the drawing, like the dimension. Some of these plants you can see there's an outer shape, but then there's an inner shape, lets say if the leaf is curled. I'm going to see if I can go back in here and get that curled leaf. Just try to draw every line that you see if that makes sense. Don't worry about running into other leaves because all the layers are really what makes all of this so interesting looking. Just take your time. One of my favorite things to do, which I know I've said this already, there we go, to do this as a daily practice because the more you practice, the better you're going to get. For sure. I'm going to change pen so you can see different thicknesses and just how different pens work. This is a micron pen, but it's graphic and it has more of like a felt tip. There'll be a thicker line. I'm going to do the same plant, but I'm going to do it up here. I haven't drawn blind in a while, so I'm rusty for sure. These are not as beautiful as the ones you saw in my sketch book, but there's still super interesting, like look at that leaf. I love that leaf. There are so good. Where's the brush pen? Here it is. They also make this brush pen which is cool. It gives you like you can have thin and thick lines. I'm going to do the same leaf again. Let me say a little plant part with this one, but over here. I'm trying to draw it differently each time, like taking a different route. I don't know if I'm successfully doing that because I don't really remember how I drawing it before, but I'm trying to. There we go. Another tip is especially when you're first starting off, it's easy to just not really move your hand and you'll just stay in one small area. Don't be afraid to move and really go for it because it will just be more interesting instead of it all like on top of each other. But these are cool. These are three different versions of the same thing in three different pens. I like it. 6. Paint Prep: Once you practice and you really feel like you've figured it out, just practice all you can. Another fun thing to do is to actually paint your drawings. If you remember, I showed you how I have watercolored my blind contours before. But I've also painted with acrylic. Here's some others. These were tulips that I did. This isn't like the best painting job by any means, but it's interesting. It's a very interesting way to get some cool looking paintings. Let's practice that today. I'm going to flip the page and this is a piece of Gessoed or primed, I primed with Gesso watercolor paper. It's the same kind of paper that I use in my painting classes. The reason why you prime the paper is because watercolor is created to soak in paint and it's wonderful for watercolor. You don't really want that to happen with acrylic paint because it just makes it harder to blend colors, you get stuck, your painting is like that instead of smoothly moving your brush. You can also avoid Gessoing watercolor paper and just buy acrylic paper made for acrylic painting. I personally like the process of priming paper and having this nice brushy primed surface, but it's completely up to you. You can totally skip it and just buy paper specifically for acrylic painting. It's whatever you want to do. 7. Paint Sketch: The reason I'm using pencil is because like I said earlier, the ink, if you use a pen, it will smear because this is a primed surface, so we're just going to use a pencil because it will not smear. This is just a 2B pencil, nothing special. You can use any pencil that you want to use. I'm going to draw the same section that I was drawing with these three of my plant. The other wonderful thing that blind contour drawing does is it teaches you to be patient, which I need lots of extra doses of patience. It just makes you slow down and look at what you're drawing and really pay attention, and just take your time. While also simultaneously giving you a really interesting drawing. Feel free, once you are done drawing, to go in and fill in some spots. Say you finish and you're just like, I like that, but I would like it to be a little fuller over here or whatever, feel free to do that. I like this. But here's a great example. For this, because this is going to be like a finished piece, it may be more interesting to have another leaf over here and maybe like one up here or however you want it to be balanced. I'm going to put my pencil somewhere where I think I want the leaf, and I'm going to add it in because I can, because this is what artistic license is. You can do whatever you want to do. There are no rules, break all the rules, you can do whatever you want to do. That is one of my favorite things about being an artist. I am breaking the rules and adding in a leaf that isn't really there, but I'm basing it off of a leaf that I'm looking at. See that gives us a little bit more balance. See you don't want one there. Yeah, I'm going to stick one here too. I'm still looking at my drawing or looking at my plant, and doing it blind, but just being more intentional about where I'm going to put that leaf. Okay, I like it. I think this is cool. 8. Painting: Now that I have my perspective up or I move the camera so you can see my palette and you can see everything that I'm going to do over here. I'm now picking out some colors. This is green. I'm not going to get too detailed with the painting because I like just the whole look of these. They're imperfect. They're weird, they're funky and so it doesn't need to look like a real plant. It's just fun. Like scribbling, sort of like a scribble and then filling in your scribble. I used to do that as a kid. I would just do like a bunch of scribbles and then paint in the shapes that we're connected and it always turned out cool. Let's do that today. I have my bucket of water off-camera. You can't see it, but that's how I rinse it. Rinse my brush and have a paper towel next to it and that's how I blocked my brush as well. I'm going to just start to get my paint loaded up on my brush and feel free to mix a green. I like this green, this is. Where did I put it? This is shaven. It is a French paint brand and I like them. They've got really great colors and this is called Khaki. I'm just using a little round brush. Just a small little detail round brush. What I'm going to do is just fill in. It's like I'm coloring. I'm just picking the shapes that I see and I'm going to fill them in. I like doing this too with watercolor. Watercolor is really fun for blind contours. But so is acrylic, I mean it's just like a completely different look like with acrylic painting, you're going to see all the brush marks and the texture. But it's probably not going to be quite as detailed and sharp as points and stuff because you just can't get you can you just have to have a smaller brush which I do have, but I'm just going to use this one today. But it's going to be completely different look than watercolor, but it's just what look are you going for. What do you want it to look like. I'll compare, I'll show you my watercolor version of this compared to this acrylic one so we can see how different it looks. [NOISE]. I did a live class on Instagram once where I taught blind contour drawing and it was so much fun. People painted their partners, they painted their pets, and then I brought hazel on camera my dog. Actually, sorry they didn't paint they drew, it was a drawing class, but they drew Hazel. It was the most fun ever because I got to see all these fun drawings of Hazel, which she's barking right now if you can hear her [LAUGHTER]. But anyways, it was so much fun having all these fun drawings of my little doggy. But this is just a fun practice to do. Highly recommend it. I highly, highly recommend it. I'm just going to keep on painting these shapes and I'm moving it around weirdly because I don't want to smear it with my right hand. That's why it's like sideways and all the ways. You can see how I've seen is that part of it. I like that because if I go in and paint this shape, then you're going to miss all these funky little shapes in there. I'm going to keep that for now. Just see. Keep in mind with paint you can always add, and you can't really take away that much. I mean, you can, I could go and paint in white, but since this is a drawing, I would lose my drawing because it will get covered up by white paint or colored paint. I'm going to keep that for now and then in the end, if I want to go back and fill in that leaf, I can. The smaller the brush you use, the more detailed you can get. I mean, this is a relatively small brush. I have smaller that make really tiny brushes. It's just up to you and what you prefer. But it's just up to you. There we go. I like that. I think this is really interesting looking. I like that kind of line there. I'm going to clean my brush real quick. But look how cool that looks. Let's compare this now to the watercolor that I did. Just so you can see the different vibes of paint. You can get really, really, really detailed with watercolor, especially if you use a really small round brush, you can really get in there. Acrylic paint you can't get quite as detailed, but it's just a little harder than watercolor. But there's two really cool vibes with paint and I love it. 9. Final Thoughts: That is blind contour drawing with a little bit of painting, and I hope what you take away from this lesson is to just try it [LAUGHTER] and have fun with it, and let interesting shapes come out of your hands. It's going to be really cool just to see what comes out, and the more you practice, the better you get. Have fun with it. Draw with a friend, or draw by yourself, whatever you want to do. It's also an excellent tool to use when you have a creative block, excellent tool for that. But anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and that this becomes a new fun practice for you in your artistic journey. Be sure to check out the class project section. I would love to see the drawings that you make from this class, so post them there. If you enjoyed this class, check out the rest of my classes. You can click on my profile and see the rest of my classes. If you want to follow along on Instagram, you can find me @laurieanneart. [MUSIC]