Category Archives: Unit 1: Drawing

Elements and Principles of Art

Elements of Art

Line is an element of art, which refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point. It may be two dimensional, like a pencil mark on a paper or it may be three-dimensional (wire) or implied (the edge of a shape or form) often it is an outline, contour or silhouette.

Shape is an enclosed space defined by other elements of art. Shapes may take on the appearance of two-d or three-d objects.

Form is an element of art that is three-dimensional and encloses volume. Cubes, spheres, and cylinders are examples of various forms.

Color Is an element of art with three properties 1) Hue, the name of the color, e.g. red, yellow, etc. 2) Intensity or the purity and strength of the color such as brightness or dullness. 3) Value, or the lightness or darkness of the color.

Texture refers to the surface quality or “feel” of an object, such as roughness, smoothness, or softness. Actual texture can be felt while simulated textures are implied by the way the artist renders areas of the picture.

Space refers to the distance or area between, around, above or within things. It can be a description for both 2 and 3 dimensional portrayals.

Value describes the lightness or darkness of a color. Value is needed to express Volume.


Principles of Art

Emphasis in a composition refers to developing points of interest to pull the viewer’s eye to important parts of the body of the work.

Balance is a sense of stability in the body of work. Balance can be created by repeating of same shapes and by creating a feeling of equal weight.

Harmony is achieved in a body of work by using similar elements throughout the work. Harmony gives an uncomplicated look to your work.

Variety refers to the differences in the work. You can achieve variety by using difference shapes, textures, colors and values in your work.

Movement adds excitement to your work by showing action and directing the viewer’s eye throughout the picture plane.

Rhythm is a type of movement in drawing and painting. It is seen in repeating of shapes and colors. Alternating lights and darks also give a sense of rhythm.

Proportion or scale refers to the relationships of the size of objects in a body of work. Proportion gives a sense of size seen as a relationship of objects. Such as smallness or largeness.

Unity is seen in a painting or drawing when all the parts equal a whole. Your work should not appear disjointed or confusing.

The Portrait

The example below provides you with an idea that the parts of the face relate to other parts such as:

  • Top of the ears meet the top of the eyes
  • Bottom of the ears meet the tip of the nose
  • The end of the mouth meet the center of the eyes
  • The ends of the nose line up with the inside ends of the eyes
  • The eyes are located in the middle height of the head
  • The space between each eye is about the width of an eye (the width of the head is five eyes)


Included are additional reference images of the head and parts of the face to help you along the way.

















Contour Line Drawing

Artists/Art Works That Reflect Contour Drawing Techniques:

Greek red and black potteryHenri MatisseAndy Warhol

To make a contour drawing you draw only the edges or outlines of the shapes you see. There is no shading.


  • Choose a point on the subject you are observing and place your pencil on your paper. For example’s sake, let’s say that you are drawing a teacup. As you look at the point on the cup imagine that your pencil touching the paper is actually your finger touching the observed point on the cup.
  • Begin tracing the outlines of the cup with your eye. Move very slowly and observe carefully. Now, try to get your eye and your hand working in tandem. As your eye follows the curve of the handle, imagine your finger tracing the same path as your pencil moves along the paper. If your eye moves in a curve to the left, your pencil should move in a curve to the left. If your eye stops moving or looks away, your pencil should stop moving or come off of the paper. Never move your pencil unless your eyes are moving along the contours of the cup.
  • Contour drawing relies as much on your sense of touch as on your ability to see. The line quality of your drawings will be more convincing and sensitive if you can convince yourself that you are actually touching the surface of your observed subject as you move your pencil across your paper (in tandem with your eyes of course). Your eyes may follow a curve deep into a fold in which case you may press harder on your pencil. Then your eyes may move lightly across a soft and expose edge, prompting you to lighten your touch as you imagine the way that surface might feel.
  • Move slowly. This exercise is more about sensitive observation than about finishing a piece.

Journal Entry Examples

1.  Drawing Practice

To boost your skill and practice of drawing and shading techniques, draw the following:

  • Contour Drawing of a cup with a handle
  • Contour Drawing of a pair of scissors
  • Drawing of a small bottle (nail polish or other).  Shade the drawing using hatching techniques.
  • Drawing of a fruit, use cross-hatching to shade.
  • Drawing of three leaves, use the blending techniques (hatching, cross hatching, stippling) to shade the leaves

Note written comments regarding your experience and/or reflection of your work (strengths and weaknesses)

2.  Focus on Composition
Choose three of the objects from the drawing practice to create four thumbnail sketches. Use the following compositional devices for each thumbnail sketch; Triangles, Rule-of-thirds, Cropping, Framing.  Take your favorite composition and embellish it with the shading techniques you have learned. Reflect on your thumbnail sketches as well as the final image.

3.  Research one of the following artists.  Focus on their drawings:  MC Escher, John Menton, Paul Noble, Gino Severini, Claes Oldenberg, Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas.
Answer the following about the artist:
Who is this artist?
Where is he/she from?
What time period did he/she live?
What style is he/she associated with?
What subject did this artist usually draw from?
What did this artist achieve in his/her work?
Paste sample of this artists work.
Draw all or part of the sample work.
What do you think of his/her work (Describe, Analyze, Interpret, Judge)?
What have you learned from looking at this artists drawing?
How will this research broaden your understanding of your own work?

4.  Using the artist research, create drawing influenced by your artist’s work.  How did your new understanding affect your drawing?

Vocabulary:  line, contour drawing, thumbnail sketches, hatching, cross-hatching, blending, stippling, triangles, rule-of-thirds, framing, cropping

Below are some examples from these practice skills: