25 Days to Better Drawings – Day Six – Cross Contour Lines

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Description: Learn how the concept of cross contour lines can help us to better understand the form of a subject and determine directional stroking when adding shading to a drawing.

Suggested Materials: Graphite drawing pencil, white drawing paper, and a kneaded eraser.



25 Days to Better Drawings – Day Six – Cross Contour Lines — 9 Comments

  1. At one point the cross lines were going one direction, and then after the cross lines appear straight the cross lines change direction. Is that right? Or when do they change direction?

    • Lesson 1-5, easy to follow. Lesson 6 not. Whoa. Did the intuitive artist just skip a mental step that the plodder can’t fathom? Left to myself, I would not dream of cross contours positions such as these and the teacher certainly laid it out clearly, but how can I do the same thing on non-bananas without that missing step?

      • Hi Susan,
        Perhaps you’re overthinking it. Cross contour lines are simply lines that flow over the form of an object. In some cases, we can see these lines, but most of the time we cannot. If you take your finger and move it over a form and imagine that your finger leaves a line, the line that would be left is a cross contour line. They simply help us to better understand a 3D object in space and how we can communicate it in a flat drawing. In the next module, cross contour lines are used to add shading to an object. It may be helpful to watch this lesson to reinforce the practical application of cross contour lines in a drawing.

    • Hi Pasqualina, The cross contour lines are simply flowing over the planes of the banana. They appear at a different angle because of the vantage point. They change direction according to the plane.

  2. Thanks for the lesson. I had an “aha!” moment with how contour lines can help create a 3D shape. As an experiment I drew contour lines along a second banana that didn’t follow the shape and planes. The second banana looked strange.

  3. I found this one a little hard to follow. I understand the contour lines that are more rounded, but I didn’t understand how you had picked the planes on your banana (I’m using my own banana). My banana has pretty clear longitudinal planes. Didn’t get how you picked where the line became angular (as opposed to the roundy banana). Otherwise enjoying the series.

  4. I agree with most. I started from the picture but did not get it. It helped with a real banana and feeling shape but still not sure of my lines. Need more work with this. I find myself copying you rather than actually getting it. I won’t give up.

  5. I copied the banana in the reference photo then drew the bowl of my wine glass and did contour lines on that to check that I understood the concept. I’m not the best drawer in the world for sure but I was pleased with the result. I could see the shape of the glass in my drawing. Clever stuff Matt!

Lesson Discussion