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Contour line

A contour line in all its simplicity is the marking used by artists to define the shape of their subject without using shading. Essentially, they outline the subject, with emphasis on the mass and volume rather than on the details. A fundamental element of any drawing or painting, contour lines are often the first technique adopted when experimenting with art. 

However, it is far more than a basic technique used by childrens and beginners. As a contour can convey a three-dimensional perspective, length and width as well as thickness and depth are important, and not all contours exist along the outlines of a subject. By altering the type of contour, an artist can convey details and aspects of the subjects relating to its shape and form. For example, a lighter line with less gradation suggests a greater distance between the subjects, whereas a darker portion of the contour may depict a subject with little or no light source, thus conveying whether the subject is lower or perhaps compressed. Furthermore, artists use contour lines to add accents or cast shadows.

Over the course of different art movements, the concept of contour lines has waxed and waned, been reinvented and then reverted back to tradition again. During the Renaissance, artists such as Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci used contour lines in a clearly defined and almost scientific manner in order to depict human forms in a highly naturalistic way. On the other hand, impressionist artists such as Edgar Degas experimented with the vicissitude of contour lines. They could be curved or angular, heavy or light, precise or ambiguous, and sometimes all of this at the same time.

Discover both modern and traditional pieces from various art periods with emphasis on the contour line technique in artworks on Artsper.

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price,500 facet,10503*Artworks by best-selling artists|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Oeuvres d’artistes best sellers|icon-bestsellers*bestsellers facet,10503*Obras de los artistas más vendidos|icon-bestsellers*obras-de-los-artistas-mas-vendidos facet,10503*Werke von Bestseller-Künstlern|icon-bestsellers*werke-von-kunstlern-bestseller price,501:1000 facet,10500*Young Talents|icon-youngtalents*youngtalents facet,10500*Obras de artistas emergentes|icon-youngtalents*obras-de-artistas-emergentes facet,10500*Oeuvres d'artistes émergents|icon-youngtalents*jeunes-talents facet,10500*Werke von aufstrebenden Künstlern|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern facet,10500*Werke aufstrebender Künstler|icon-youngtalents*werke-von-jungen-kunstlern category,6*Peinture*peinture category,6*Gemälde*gemalde category,6*Painting*painting category,6*Pintura*pintura facet,1629*Abstraite*abstraite facet,1629*abstracto*abstracto facet,1629*abstrakt*abstrakt facet,1629*Abstract*abstract price,1001:5000 facet,8259*Our recommendations|icon-recommendations*recommendations facet,8259*Nos recommandations|icon-recommendations*recommandations facet,8259*unsere Empfehlungen|icon-recommendations*unsere-empfehlungen facet,8259*Nuestras recomendaciones|icon-recommendations*nuestras-recomendaciones facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*moyen facet,8274*Moyen (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*moyen facet,10497*Werke berühmter Künstler|icon-masterpieces*werke-beruhmter-kunstler facet,10497*Obras de artistas famosos|icon-masterpieces*obras-de-artistas-famosos facet,10497*Artworks by famous artists|icon-masterpieces*masterpieces facet,10497*Oeuvres d'artistes célèbres|icon-masterpieces*artistes-celebres facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*grand facet,8277*Grand (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*grand facet,1635*Street art*street-art facet,1635*Straßenkunst*street-art facet,1635*arte callejero*arte-callejero category,5*Sculpture*sculpture category,5*Skulptur*skulptur category,5*Escultura*escultura facet,1686*Pop Art*pop-art facet,1686*Pop-Art*pop-art facet,1686*Arte pop*arte-pop category,9*Photography*photography category,9*Photographie*photographie category,9*Fotografía*fotografia category,9*Fotografie*fotografie facet,1671*Nature*nature facet,1671*Natur*natur facet,1671*Naturaleza*naturaleza facet,1671*Paysage*nature facet,1671*Landscape*nature facet,1644*Portrait*portrait facet,1644*Porträt*portrat facet,1644*Retrato*retrato price,1000:501 facet,1641*Nude*nude facet,1641*Akt*akte facet,1641*Nus*nus facet,1641*desnudos*desnudos facet,1827*Portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Retrato|portrait*orientation-retrato facet,1827*Portrait|portrait*orientation-portrait facet,1827*Hochformat|portrait*orientation-portrat facet,1827*Retrato*orientation-retrato category,23*Dessin*dessin category,23*Fine Art Drawings*drawing category,23*Zeichnung*zeichnung category,23*Dibujo*dibujo facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 80 x 80 inch)|large*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)*large facet,8277*Large (\u003c 200 x 200 cm)|large*large category,15*Edition*edition category,15*Print*print category,15*Druck*editionen category,15*Edición*edicion facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*tres-grand facet,8280*Très grand (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*tres-grand facet,8301*Oeuvres en promotion|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special offers|icon-promotions*promotions facet,8301*Special Offers|icon-promotions*vergunstigte-werke facet,8301*Trabajos en promoción|icon-promotions*trabajos-en-promocion facet,1830*Paysage*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landschaft*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Paysage|landscape*orientation-paysage facet,1830*Landscape|landscape*orientation-landscape facet,1830*Landschaft|landscape*orientation-landschaft facet,1830*Paisaje|landscape*orientation-paisaje facet,1674*Etchleben*etchleben facet,1674*Scène de vie*scene-de-vie facet,1674*Everyday life*everyday-life facet,1674*Escena de la vida*escena-de-la-vida facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)|medium*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 45 x 45 inch)*medium facet,8274*Medium (\u003c 115 x 115 cm)|medium*medium facet,1680*Animaux*animaux facet,1680*Animal*animal facet,1680*Tier*tier facet,1680*Animales*animales facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)|small*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 50 x 50 cm)*petit facet,8271*Petit (\u003c 20 x 20 inch)|small*petit facet,1668*Black and white*black-and-white facet,1668*Noir et blanc*noir-et-blanc facet,1668*Schwarz und weiß*schwarz-und-weiss facet,1668*Blanco y negro*blanco-y-negro facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 200 x 200 cm)|very-large*very-large facet,8280*Very large (\u003e 80 x 80 inch)|very-large*very-large facet,1632*Architecture*architecture facet,1632*Die Architektur*die-architektur facet,1632*Arquitectura*arquitectura facet,1650*Paysage urbain*paysage-urbain facet,1650*Städtische Landschaft*stadtische-landschaft facet,1650*Urban Landscape*urban-landscape facet,1650*Paisaje urbano*paisaje-urbano facet,1659*Flore*flore facet,1659*Flora*flora facet,1659*Floral*floral facet,1659*Flores*flores price,5001:10000 price,50001 price,10001:25000 facet,1692*Géométrique*geometrique facet,1692*Geometric*geometric facet,1692*Geometrisch*geometrisch facet,1692*Geometría*geometria facet,1656*Graphique*graphique facet,1656*Graphic*graphic facet,1656*Gráfico*grafico facet,1656*Grafik*grafik facet,12*noir|050002*noir facet,12*Black|050002*black facet,12*schwarz|050002*schwarz facet,12*negro|050002*negro facet,42*Rouge|FC2912*rouge facet,42*Red|FC2912*red facet,42*rot|FC2912*rot facet,42*Rojo|FC2912*rojo price,25001:50000 facet,30*Dark blue|0707BD*dark-blue facet,30*bleu foncé|0707BD*bleu-fonce facet,30*Dunkelblau|0707BD*dunkelblau facet,30*azul oscuro|0707BD*azul-oscuro facet,108*Öl*ol facet,108*huile*huile facet,108*oil*oil facet,108*al oleo*al-oleo
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