Lesson Plan Title : Contour Line Drawings

Age Range: Grade 6 through grade 8

Overview and Purpose: Drawing an object while looking at it helps artists draw what they really see. It is a good technique for beginners and advanced artists. Many times this technique is used as a warm-up exercise.

Objective: The student will be able to draw a picture without looking at the paper. He will look at the object while he is drawing it.


Variety of small objects

White drawing paper

Tracing paper (if available)



Start With Objects

Students will practice drawing familiar objects without looking at the paper. This will help them learn to draw objects as they really are rather than how the students remember them. Once they are ready to draw, they should place their pencils on the paper and not lift it off until the outline is complete. If they need to draw additional lines, they can look at the paper to place their pencil, but then they should just look at the object. After they have completed the drawing, they can discuss it with another classmate.

Tracing Contour Maps

As students begin to go deeper into the physical sciences, they will begin to read and even create contour line maps that note the elevation of landmasses. Here is an example of a contour line map of area of public park that is about a mile from my house.

Contour Map

This is a great way to add and interdisciplinary aspect to this skill. I often find myself working with the Earth Science teachers in the building when their students are working on this skill. We simply have better supplies and can help students learn to draw these lines more accurately. I have done this in a number of different ways, but tracing paper seems to be the best method that I have come across.

Wrap Up:

This exercise can be used often as a warm up before a lesson. The complexity and size of the objects should be varied so students can practice using just their wrist and hand as well as their whole arm when drawing.