Make your own free website on

The 5 Elements of Contour Shape

This tutorial has been designed to teach you how to isolate and recognize the importance of the five basic elements of shape. These basic shapes can be used to create any object.

Contour Edges

When drawing, many artists use a technique that surprises most beginning artists. These artists observe the contour edge of an object (basically the outline of the entire object and any significant geometrical shapes of its interior) and pay more attention to the space around the object than the mass of the object itself. Observe the space around the object you're drawing -- the silhouette if you will.. and observe the spaces between parts of your object.

For instance, the handle of a coffee cup. The space between the coffee cup and the handle must be observed. Don't view the handle as an extension of the cup. Instead, try drawing the oval shape of the space between the handle and the cup. This is the difference. This lesson will teach you to see the edges of everything in terms of these five elements of shape: dot, circle, straight line, angle line, and curved line.

The Dot

The difference between the dot and the circle? The dot is colored or filled in and the circle is empty -- merely an outline. The dot includes anything that is round, or lacks straight or pointed edges. Oval, elipse, solid circle, or even kidney shaped objects fit this description. Any size, large or small.

The Circle

The circle can fit the same description in terms of shape and size as the dot, however, the circle is empty of texture and color. The outline of the circle can be thin or thick, but the interior is empty. Wobbly outlines of kidney shaped objects, ovals, and elipses are all part of the circle family.

The Straight Line

Straight lines vary in thickness from fine lines to fat lines.

The Curved Line

When a straight line begins to bend it becomes a curved line. So long as it does not bend to meet the beginning of the line and closes to form a circle, the shape remains a curved line.The letter 'S' is two curved lines. Drawing multiple curves can become a bit tricky -- especially if the weave around each other. As mentioned, the minute one crosses over another to close a shape, that shape no longer is part of the curved line family.

The Angle Line

The angle line is created from two straight lines joined at one point. An angle line can be thin or thick, creating triangles, rectangles, and squares.

Practice seeing these 5 basic shapes in everyday objects. This will help you when you try to recreate everyday objects on paper. Create your objects with the use of these 5 basic shapes.