The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Nature Journaling and Field Sketching Focusing on Your Subject – Blind Contour Drawing

    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Describe your experience with contour drawing. Once again, share it if you’d like to. Do you think it helped you stay focused on your subject?
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    • Kim
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Some were better than others. The perception of sizes is a big one. The flower and newt were better than the Sunbird and Sprinbok. The Springbok body too thick and the neck head to small, several rub outs for this one.
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I tried left to right, right to left, different starting points and even mentally counting how long a segment was in relation to others....but still had lackluster results.  Definitely something to work on.  the biggest challenge was to have the start and end points meet.
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
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    • Breanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I admit at first I was a bit skeptical about the exercise, until I heard WHY it was useful - to learn to trust the relationship between your eye and your hand. I was actually surprised that most of these were discernible shapes! I wish they hadn't overlapped but that's a purely aesthetic complaint lol. I found this really helpful actually! IMG20240114224217
    • Tina B
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      It was intimidating, but each time I did better than I thought I’d done. That was interesting. And encouraging. I actually want to try to do it some more … as a practice. Yes, I surely do think it helped me stay focused on my subject. I even found that I was speaking aloud to myself ... to guide myself along. And that seemed to help.
    • Edie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Your presentation helped me a lot! I tried contour drawing eons ago and didn't really get it. But now that I've been involved with cataloging oak tree species I find that the contour drawing has sharpened my observation skills in bark patterns and leaf forms. Thanks!
    • Leslie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      This exercise was really challenging! It did help me stay focused, but judging lengths, sweeps, curves of the continuous line to end up back where I started just didn’t happen. It’ll be interesting when I go outside to try the exercise….when it warms up a tad. 15 degrees F today, windy with a wind chill around 9. IMG_3422IMG_3423
    • Gabriel
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      i found the springbok easiest to draw, as it felt like it had the straightest lines. My newt wasn't great and neither was my sunbird. I struggle to connect the lines back up, but I'm sure many people do
    • Raegan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Ill continue to use this tip! At first the newt looked like a large squiggle but i revisited it later and it looked pretty good! The springbok was the hardest but the most fun to draw. Can't wait to use this in the field!
    • Gigi
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      This was tricky! In almost all of these, I did not connect the sketch to itself as I struggled to make sense of the distance between lines. In my sketch below, the legs were fairly successful, which was when I decided to retrace my steps without looking down. IMG_1147
    • Carmen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      DSCN1674 How interesting the results.  Hey, this may have been the same techniques used in the cave paintings .(?) I like it for abstract drawing.
    • Carmen
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      DSCN1670 Oh boy. I made an Amoeba. This tasks was a bit challenging as I was not able to decipher the width of the animal I was drawing unto the paper. I was focused, but my lines did not connect.
    • Anita
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      This exercise started out frustrating and then became a lot of fun since I knew the drawings would look terrible from the start.  However, by the end I think I became more aware of the proportions of the drawings spatially on the paper, and where my pencil was in relation to the lines I had already drawn (but they by no means ever looked "good" or "correct").  There were a few areas that I think I paid attention and made good progress though; for example, the Springbok's ear and the placement of the newt's feet. Eastern Red-spotted NewtSpringbokBird of Paradise Flower
    • Zjences
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      • WIN_20230821_13_37_40_Pro
    • John L
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I decided not to include pictures, I was terrible, I'm proud to say I could at least find a section of line that looked similar to the picture. I decided I needed serious practice so today I grabbed a sketch book and started practicing. I shut my eyes and drew circles, squares and various shaped lines. On the lines I tried to duplicate length and angle and maintain uniform spacing and on the figures getting the beginning and ends to meet. After a bit of practice I began to see in my minds eye what my pencil was doing. I think with this as a warm up I will begin to see improvement.
    • Quentin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I agree with Melanie (below), the ends don't meet, but the results are very interesting! I am especially happy with my Springbok, maybe because it was the last of the series and I improved as I went?? Or maybe the animal looks like road kill?! Mine were done in ink, which I find much more easy (better flow?) than pencil. Anyway, cool exercise! bedcab80-af7b-424d-9e9a-c086775a82e3
    • Melanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      LOL, well let’s say the beginning and end never connected. I see some similarities but definitely hard to make out. The Bird of Paradise and the bird were the only ones you can make out what they are. I thought the newt would be easy but I botched that one. I remember doing this as a kid. It was a game to draw blind folded and I was better at it as a kid drawing something out of my head onto paper without looking. Will need to practice this more. I mean loads more. Was fun though.
    • Penelope
      Participant
      Chirps: 38
      I feel like a 50/50 mix of watching what you are doing and watching the object is better then simply just watching the object. If you solely watch the object, your drawing might not resemble the thing at all--as seen here. This is the Sunbird by the way. However, if you just look at your drawing, there's no doubt you would have a similar problem due to lack of input. BCD
    • Katalin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      image I was surprised that the drawings even resembled what i was trying to draw!  This was much quicker than when I drew the warbler in the first exercise. image
    • Li
      Participant
      Chirps: 33
      截屏2023-07-13 12.04.31截屏2023-07-13 12.04.45
    • Mara
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I found this super challenging! But definitely helped me notice aspects of the shape that I might not have noticed. I think I will do this again as a warm up exercise for a drawing - to really SEE the contour lines. I'm laughing at how abstract my subjects are :) IMG_5706
    • Wes
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Contour drawing was challenging for me. I found slowing down definitely helped to improve my images. Contour drawing definitely helped me stay focused on the subject.
    • Kurt
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      Challenging, but I was surprised at how close to the real thing my images were. They look more like shadows than the items, though, with little to no detail separating foreground from background. It allowed me to see how certain things turn and move in the animals body. Blind Countour Technique 6:18
    • Jenn
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      A fun and challenging exercise! I really liked it, my first two (newt and sunbird) came out fairly wonky, but there were features I was happy with on both, and on my second two I started to feel an improvement - I was actually very surprised and happy that my Springbok start and finish point matched exactly! IMG_6121IMG_6122