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Drawing 2: Continuous line drawing

Ingredients for this exercise:

  1. some paper or a sketchbook 
  2. and a felt tip pen or some charcoal.

My favourite drawing exercise is probably continuous line drawing. I like it because it’s kind of lighthearted. It’s very nature means that you are unlikely to achieve perfection so you can just chillax and let your hand and eyeballs do their thing. Give your critical brain a little break.

What is it you ask?

Continuous line drawing is doing a drawing [ a scene, person still life, donkey race,  anything you like]  in one continuous line. You start drawing at one part  and continue with this one line until you finish. You can take your hand off to itch your nose or whatever, but you go back to the same point when you restart.

Above: scenes at my desk  done while waiting for my computer to get its act together.

When you first start these drawings they seem a little tricky and you generally end up mostly using the outline of the shapes you are drawing but with a bit of practice you start being able to capture the tone and form of the subject too.

Above: just start noodling away at these drawings every time you get a chance. You will  improve quite quickly.

It’s also good because you are so busy moving and trying to follow the form of your subject that you don’t have time to stop and criticise yourself.  Something about following that line means that beginners will often get quite good scale  in their drawings too.

Above: if you make a mistake in proportion as I did here on the left knee, you can correct it by just going over it.

Above: not much of a scene so I’ve drawn my feet. Practice makes perfect confident I say.


Above: It’s fun to redraw famous artist’s paintings or drawings too. Here I have had a scribble at Ingres ‘Little Bather’. I realise that leg shown with its foot facing back is in the wrong spot entirely, but I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t been redrawing it.

Above: This scene is redrawn form Jean Leon Gerome’s ‘Harem Outing’.

Above: this nice drawing is by Jen at


Above: and these lovely soft figures are from

It’s best to use a felt tip pen or any medium that flows easily. To show rounded forms you can actually make rounded lines describing the subject.  you can double back on a line to get to another part of the paper and if you make a mistake, just continue to add more lines where you want the correction to be. Theres no rule about when to stop, it’s up to you how much detail you want to include.

Above: this confident image is from So much detail is included that it becomes tone and form rather than outline.

It’s a good exercise for developing your eye, really looking at shapes and also for developing a confident use of line.   For a  fairly scribbly sort of method  it can reveal some freaky accuracies.

3 comments on “Drawing 2: Continuous line drawing

  1. Pingback: Changing habits – becoming an artist, my top 3 tips. « Making Art

  2. Pingback: Line Drawing. | Jadene Van Dyk:Ceramics

  3. Pingback: Continuous line drawing | Jadene Van Dyk:Ceramics

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This entry was posted on August 20, 2012 by in Drawing and tagged , , .
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