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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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In just a few clicks, tell us your preferences and discover our recommended works for you

Our recommendations Alice de Miramon, Les hauts et les bas, Painting

Alice de Miramon

Les hauts et les bas, 2017
27.6 x 13.8 inch
Painting

$1,726

Our recommendations Gustav Klimt, La Fille aux bas de soie sur le Tabouret / The Girl with silk stockings sitting on the stool - 1910 (Sitzende mit gerafftem Rock / Seated Female Semi-Nude in Patterned Dress, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee), Print

Gustav Klimt

La Fille aux bas de soie sur le Tabouret / The Girl with silk stockings sitting on the stool - 1910 (Sitzende mit gerafftem Rock / Seated Female Semi-Nude in Patterned Dress, Her Head Resting on Her Right Knee), 2012
34.3 x 23.2 inch
Print

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Our recommendations Corneille, Le chien bleu, Painting

Corneille

Le chien bleu, 2008
78.7 x 110.2 inch
Painting

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Our recommendations Keith Haring, The Story of Red and Blue, Print

Keith Haring

The Story of Red and Blue, 1989
16.5 x 13.5 inch
Print

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Our recommendations Henri Matisse, Tête de Femme (Fribourg livres illustrés 25; Claude Duthuit 23), 1948, Print

Henri Matisse

Tête de Femme (Fribourg livres illustrés 25; Claude Duthuit 23), 1948, 1948
9.75 x 7.5 inch
Print

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Pablo Picasso, Profil d'homme (recto); Deux hommes de profil (verso), Fine Art Drawings

Pablo Picasso

Profil d'homme (recto); Deux hommes de profil (verso), 1900
11.25 x 9 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$125,000

Our recommendations Edvard Munch, Le Cri / The Scream / Geschrei - 1895, Print

Edvard Munch

Le Cri / The Scream / Geschrei - 1895, 2017
25.6 x 19.3 inch
Print

$748

Our recommendations Joanna Mieszko, Nude, Painting

Joanna Mieszko

Nude, 2014
22 x 16.5 inch
Painting

$921

Our recommendations Goddog, Shadowghost 1, Painting

Goddog

Shadowghost 1, 2020
45.7 x 35 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$2,117

Allen Jones, Cascade, Fine Art Drawings

Allen Jones

Cascade, 1999
8.7 x 4.3 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$8,630

Our recommendations Kaws, NVG Gone, Print

Kaws

NVG Gone, 2019
16.9 x 13.4 inch
Print

$6,760

Our recommendations Enaer, Validé - Reproduction digigraphie, Print

Enaer

Validé - Reproduction digigraphie, 2021
27.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Print

$288 $259

Tehos, Three old men with canes 02, Fine Art Drawings

Tehos

Three old men with canes 02, 2017
22 x 29.9 x 0 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$460

Diane Victor, One Horn, Print

Diane Victor

One Horn, 2016
27.2 x 19.7 inch
Print

$1,151

Colbert Mashile, Jozi Boys III, Print

Colbert Mashile

Jozi Boys III, 2016
26.8 x 19.7 inch
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$690

Nikolai Dronnikov, Volokolamsk, Painting

Nikolai Dronnikov

Volokolamsk, 1974
25 x 35.6 inch
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$1,726

Wissam Beydoun, Untitled 58, Painting

Wissam Beydoun

Untitled 58, 2009
11 x 8.7 inch
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$880

Marco Rea, Donna, Painting

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Donna, 2020
31.5 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch
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$2,163

Lucien Puyuelo, Sans titre, Painting

Lucien Puyuelo

Sans titre, 1991
15.4 x 18.5 x 0.4 inch
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$1,036

Marko Krsmanovic, Climbing, Print

Marko Krsmanovic

Climbing, 1976
8.3 x 5.9 inch
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$1,093

Anatole Krasnyansky, The Orchestral Overture, Fine Art Drawings

Anatole Krasnyansky

The Orchestral Overture, 2013
24.5 x 19.5 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$7,500

Fritz Baumgartner, Nude, Painting

Fritz Baumgartner

Nude, 1958
10.6 x 8.3 inch
Painting

$4,545

Paul Guiragossian, The City, Painting

Paul Guiragossian

The City, 1986
27.6 x 19.7 inch
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$28,000

Marta Lebek, Nude, Fine Art Drawings

Marta Lebek

Nude, 2003
27.6 x 20.5 inch
Fine Art Drawings

$403

Marc Joly, Besoin de personne, Fine Art Drawings

Marc Joly

Besoin de personne, 2019
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$403

Antoni Tapies, Ligne d'horizon, Print

Antoni Tapies

Ligne d'horizon, 1973
11.6 x 18.1 inch
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$1,266

Max Ernst, Untitled, Print

Max Ernst

Untitled, 1964
25.2 x 20.9 x 0 inch
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Valerio Adami, Rohces Brunes. Musicales, Print

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Rohces Brunes. Musicales, 2020
21.7 x 12.4 x 0.4 inch
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$679

Antonio Segui, Tendresse, Print

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Tendresse, 2005
29.3 x 41.3 x 0.4 inch
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$1,956

Virginia Benedicto, Keith apple, Sculpture

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Keith apple, 2021
11.8 x 11.8 x 11.8 inch
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15.3 x 10.1 x 0 inch
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$23,590 $20,051

Larry Rivers, Diane Raised II, Print

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Diane Raised II, 1970
20.5 x 29 x 0.1 inch
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Martine Fauve Dechavanne, Jazz, Painting

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Jazz, 2020
45.7 x 31.9 x 0.8 inch
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Le garçon et la mer, 2018
11.4 x 8.3 x 1.2 inch
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Claude Weisbuch, Portrait de B, Print

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Portrait de B, 1986
29.9 x 22 inch
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$806

Julian Opie, Medieval village 3, Print

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Medieval village 3, 2019
11.8 x 15.7 inch
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$6,444

Hildegarde Handsaeme, Confused, Painting

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Confused, 2009
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch
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Francisco Montoya Cázarez, Skinny Bitch, Painting

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Etienne Quesnay, A Cloud In The Palm, Painting

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59.1 x 59.1 x 0.8 inch
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Nicholas Krushenick, North End, Print

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North End, 1979
36 x 26 inch
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Aasiri Wickremage, Hills and valleys, Painting

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29.9 x 40.2 x 0.4 inch
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31.9 x 24 x 0 inch
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Christiane Bernais, La broche, Painting

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La broche, 2010
13.8 x 10.6 x 0.8 inch
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Christiane Bernais, Coup de foudre fatal, Painting

Christiane Bernais

Coup de foudre fatal, 2018
31.5 x 31.5 x 1.4 inch
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Giacomo Manzú, Round Medusa, Print

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25 x 19.5 x 0.1 inch
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Julien Saro, Charabia, Painting

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a.muse, The Magician, Painting

a.muse

The Magician, 2019
24 x 18 inch
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Georges Saulterre, N°741, Fine Art Drawings

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N°741, 2017
22 x 29.9 x 0 inch
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Laurent Godard, Le portrait de trait - Reproduction digigraphie, Print

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27.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
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Wayne Ensrud, Lalique Vase Still Life, Painting

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Lalique Vase Still Life, 1994
20 x 24 x 2 inch
Painting

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Pablo Picasso, Sin titulo, Print

Pablo Picasso

Sin titulo, 1968
5.9 x 8.1 inch
Print

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Our recommendations Tom Wesselmann, Judy reaching over table, Print

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Judy reaching over table, 1997
41.9 x 52.6 inch
Print

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Laurent Anastay-Ponsolle, Memories from last night #3, Painting

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Memories from last night #3, 2017
39.4 x 31.5 x 0 inch
Painting

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Laurent Anastay-Ponsolle, Intensité. Tension. Passion., Painting

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Intensité. Tension. Passion., 2021
59.1 x 102.4 x 0 inch
Painting

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Nolwenn Samson, Indian Love, Painting

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28.7 x 39.4 x 0.6 inch
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Espectacular Gratis, 2019
31.9 x 25.6 x 0.6 inch
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La danseuse, 2021
16.5 x 11.8 inch
Fine Art Drawings

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Georges Saulterre, N°1386, Fine Art Drawings

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N°1386, 2017
29.9 x 22.8 x 0 inch
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Jazzu, Pink Life, Painting

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16.1 x 13 x 1.2 inch
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Sold

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