In order to render an object with any degree of realism, an artist must learn to show form. The first step in this process is to understand the difference between shape (one-dimensional) and form (three-dimensional). An excellent exercise to help students learn about an object’s form is to practice cross-contour drawing. This is a drawing that shows the interior contours of an object, achieved by drawing flowing lines in a generally horizontal direction, followed by the careful placement of a select few vertical lines. The result is a drawing that begins to transform from flat to dimensional.
For this assignment, students first completed three contour drawings of their own hand via direct observation. After choosing their best drawing, they drew cross-contour lines on it. After each drawing was enlarged it was transferred to illustration board, the lines were traced over with permanent marker, and ink wash was used to show shadows. Finally, a bright color was painted in the background, creating contrast.
Tags: cross contour, middle school art, middle school drawing