Learn to Draw - seeing negative space




Contour Drawing

Try drawing a contour of a mug

Let's try a simple contour drawing first. We'll do a simple shape like a mug. First, click on the mug to the right and print the larger picture of the mug. Then once you have your subject (the mug) we'll do the drawing. The below instructions are also in a flash animation if you click on the mug at the right.

  • Now, looking at the picture of the mug, draw the cup part of the mug. Notice the top edge isn't very even - the left corner seems to bow out a little more than the right corner. Draw that unevenness as you draw the first line. Then draw the two sides of the cup and notice that the left side is a sharper angle than the right side. Then draw the bottom arc of the cup.

  • Now, the handle is gonna be a little tricky. But the easiest way is to look at the negative space on the inside of the handle and look at the shape that the negative shape creates. It's sort of shaped like the right half of a heart. So draw that line which will be the INSIDE contour of the handle. Looking at the mug, notice that inside contour of the handle is about one third the way down the right side of the cup. So start the line there - about a third of the way down. As you draw this line, keep looking at the mug and try to make the curve as wide as it is on the mug. And bring the line in closer to the cup as you get closer to the bottom of the "heart" shape.

  • Now we'll draw the outside contour of the handle. Look again at the mug picture and mentally gauge where you'll start the outside contour line. The inside line started about one third of the way down the side. The outside line will start about halfway between the inside contour and the top of the cup. (just slightly closer to the top, if you want to get really picky about it) When drawing the outside contour of the handle, try and keep the width of the handle consistent, the two lines should be the same distance apart from each other the whole length of the handle. The outer contour line will join up with the side of the cup just a little south of halfway between the inner contour line and the bottom arc of the drawn cup.

  • The last step will be to erase the two lines between the handle and the cup. We want to erase those lines because doing so will make the mug we drew a single shape. It also eliminates any detail in the interior of the mug. A shadow of the mug would not have the delineation of the handle and cup. And that's it! Now you have a contour drawing of a mug.

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