Learning Event 4:
The third step of the systematic approach is contour. Contours are all visible edges seen
around and within a form. Edges are the places where forms meet or change direction. Learn
to see these edges and draw them accurately. You can accomplish this through a series of
exercises explained in this learning event.
The lines you drew in the previous learning events were schematic or symbolic lines.
They were accurate in form and proportion, but lacked the subtle contour variations you need to
draw realistically (fig 2-16). You must understand artistic terms of looking and seeing. Seeing
abstractly is a way of viewing an object as a series of unrecognizable shapes or edges. Seeing this
way helps prevent symbols from interfering with what is actually there. There are five qualities
of abstract line: length, direction, angle, weight, and quality.
a. All lines have length. When you draw a line, you must show how long it is in
relation to other lines on the subject. This is determined in steps one and two of the basic
b. Direction of a line is either straight or curved. Direction refers to the dominant
c. Angle refers to where the line points relative to the subject. Angles are either
horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Again, determine correct line angle in steps one and two of the
d. Weight is the thickness of the line. The thickness is called "line weight." A line may
vary from thick to thin, or it may be one uniform thickness.
e. Quality of line (line quality) shows the subtle variations found within the line's length