Art 111 Drawing 1
South Mountain Community College
Instructor- Jewel Clark

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I will be continuing to add to and update the information on this page to better help my students. Check back regularly if you have questions about technique or email me directly if you cannot find the information here.

Drawing Terms and Examples

Just as we have studied the general vocabulary of art, we must also become familiar with the specific vocabulary of drawing.


Gesture Drawing
Gesture drawing is a quick, sketchy study of an object with the intention of capturing the basic shape and personality even, of an object. During the gesture drawing, the artist looks only briefly at the page, their eyes are focused on the object. The artist never erases! The arm moves rapidly (this is a whole arm exercise) to capture the form in its entirety in a very short period of time. Typical gesture drawings range from 10 seconds to 1-2 minutes maximum. There are many variations of the gesture drawing such as: scribble, mass, line, sustained....

Contour Line
In a contour line drawing, the artist follows the contours of the object carefully outlining and delineating interior features using only line- no shading. This is a slow and deliberate drawing that calls for concentration and focus to sync the eye and the hand and draw only what the eye sees in a very small space before moving to the next small space. This drawing exercise is an attempt to bring the right-brain's observational skills to the forefront and tone down the left-brain's desire to see an object in it's entirety and name it.

Blind Contour
In a blind contour, the artist follows the above principles but NEVER looks at the page while they are drawing. The artist visualizes where their pen/ pencil is on the page based on where their eyes are focused on the object. One must imagine that their eyes and their drawing utensil are connected and move in exactly the same increments around the object. This drawing exercise is a variation of straight contour drawing explained above.

Continuous Line
Continuous line involves drawing without lifting the drawing medium (pencil, pen, etc) from the paper.
Organizational Lines
Employing organizational line helps the artist establish angles and locations of objects within the drawing. These lines extend beyond the objects and are invisible, like orthogonals. Organizational lines are achieved by using ones drawing tool (usu. a pencil or pen) as a straight edge. Locking the elbow and holding the tool perpendicular to the eye, the artist rotates the tool until it lines up with the angle of an object to be drawn. The artist then transfers that angle to the paper in a long, light stroke. This is continued until the angles on most objects are recorded. The artist can also use the straight sides of the paper to assist in placement.

Proportional Sighting
This term could be included within the context of Organizational Lines but I will separate it here for better clarification. This technique should be used in conjunction with organizational lines to block the location, proportion and scale of objects within a drawing. To achieve this, the artist first picks an object to use as their base measuring tool from which all other measurements of objects will be compared. The artist then decides how big they want that object to be on their paper. This is usually an arbitrary decision based upon how large one wants the object, how many other objects need to be represented and the location of the object on the page.
Usually the artist uses their drawing utensil as in organizational line drawing (elbow straight and one eye closed) but now the artist must find the length of the object they are measuring by lining up the drawing tool with the object and using the tip of the tool and the thumb to mark the length (or width, depending on which dimension the artist chooses). Remember- ALL other measurements of the still life must be compared to this measurement.
For example, say the artist chooses the height of a coffee pot in the still life as their base measuring device. The coffee pot is approximately half as long as the pencil the artist is using. The artist must now find out how wide the table is to the coffee pot. The artist rotates the pencil to line up with the front edge of the table while holding the thumb in position to mark the coffee pot measurement. The artist then moves the pencil along the line of the table and counts how many lengths of the coffee pot the table is. The artist has already made a mark on the paper to show how long the coffee pot will be in their drawing. That measurement will be the one all others are made from ON THE PAPER. So, if the table is 3 "coffee pot" lengths across, the artist takes the length of the coffee pot on the paper and counts across 3 times. The table will now be to the same scale as the coffee pot.

It is important to remember that this technique does not need to use a 1:1 ratio.

imagery coming

Topographical Line
This type of line exercise is designed to lead the beginner into shading and looking for the tonal value of objects. The artist draws the objects then observes the direction in which objects move toward or away from the eye and creates surface area in those directions. This technique utilizes hatching and/or cross-hatching. This is sometimes called "cross contour."


Value/ Shading
Value is the relative degree of lightness or darkness from white to grays to black of an area. Value is used in 2 dimensional art to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional object. It is also referred to as “chiaroscuro.”


This technique creates a drawing created from lines running in one direction. The spacing, direction and thickness dictate how dark and area looks.
Cross Hatching
Cross hatching is a continuation of hatching. Lines run in multiple directions and frequently cross one another and can also vary in size/ thickness and spacing.
Mass Gesture
Mass gesture is similar to regular gesture in that the artist is attempting to capture the shape and solidity of the object/ figure very quickly.
Value/Line Drawing
This type of drawing uses line and mass. The artist roughs in the drawing with line as needed but focuses on capturing the light to dark effects. Most artists use both line and shading to create a drawing.

Mass/ Value Drawing
In this type of drawing, the artist focuses on creating the entire form of an object by oberving its shape and interior tonal value rather than its edge. No line is used. Media such as charcoal are frequently used because one can build up large areas of value quickly.
The goal is to create differences between objects and their environment solely by observing the tonal value.

Point Perspective  
Using a Grid  
Drawing the Body  
Drawing the Face