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Modified contour of the ear

Recall, modified contour is just like pure contour except you get to look at your paper. You spend 90% of the time looking at the subject (parts of the ear in this case) and 10% looking at your drawing. You begin to size the proportions of your drawing by sight. That is, by comparing, judging angles, relating one line or part to another you can reproduce a drawing that looks like the subject you're drawing - with all its proportions intact.

Formats are the framework (rectangular in this case) you draw your exercises in. You can print them from their separate pages or trace them right off the screen.

So here we go: The Helix and Lobe

Approaching this as a modified contour drawing.

Drawing the Helix

Step 1: Setting up

  1. As in the other exercises, read all the steps before you begin. You'll need to draw a format or print the pre-sized proportionate format on the next page. Format for helix. I built the format right around the exact same picture of the helix you see above. Read the exercise first, there's another link for the format at the bottom.

  2. Try to allow yourself 30 minutes of time to do the drawings. (If you have an hour, all the better; if all you can put aside is 15 minutes, then work with that. A consistent 15 minutes 4 or 5 days a week will yield more lasting results than 1 two-hour period.)

  3. Tape down your paper like you did in lesson 4. You don't want it moving around.

  4. Now look at your screen. You should have the Helix right there on the screen in front of you. Since you've probably never looked at an ear this way, it'll be foreign to you. That's great! What we're trying to accomplish with this is find a view of facial features that's complex and interesting: one you're left hemisphere will want to reject and allow the R-mode to take over.

Step 2: Getting acquainted with what you'll be drawing

So, now that you've comfortably positioned yourself, give the helix on the screen a good look. As you did in the pure contour exercise, start in one spot - any spot. With your eyes, track the contour lines all the way around the shape. Look at the texture, look at the shapes in and around the helix, look at the shape of the front of the helix: the open part. - it's really a pretty simple shape, but has so many beautiful details (and this is only a drawing!). Allow the shift back to R-mode to begin. Be aware again, of how this shift in perception feels.

  • Take a good long look at the helix. Close your eyes. Imagine in your mind the helix is bordered by a vertical and a horizontal line. Open you eyes. There it is, framed within the format. Pick one of the longer lines, margins or contours. Focus in on it.

  • Regard that single line as an arm of an angle. Now compare that angle to how it opens towards or away from either the vertical or horizontal lines you've imagined or that you see formed by the format:

I've picked the diagonal line at the upper left corner.

  • Now look at your paper. Imagine how that angle, how that line would look drawn on the paper, (we haven't started drawing yet.):

  • Go to the very next adjacent line section and determine it's angle- that is, ask "how does this line segment angle towards or away from the vertical or horizontal lines?".

Imagining this next piece of angled line drawn in the format:

(Note: compare this next illustration to the one above.)

And then the next section...

and the next...

And the next...

And so on...


You're getting the idea...

And the next - it's really taking shape...

Now you have the idea. (And yes, I drew more than the helix here.)

Step 3

To repeat: Fix your eyes on any line, (or contour) that grabs you. Again, in comparison to vertical or horizontal, which way does it go? Which way does it angle? I'm easing you into making it a habit to compare contours, or any line for that matter, to vertical and horizontal.

  • Now, as you did in lesson 4, begin slowly moving your eyes along the contour, and start recording with your drawing pencil, all the same perturbations, undulations and curves at the same slow pace as you see them.

  • When you finish one line or contour, draw the very next one, the one immediately neighboring the line you just finished. Then go to the next, and then the next. Draw the lines and contours as they come up: don't try to draw a big outline that you'd have to go back to and fill in later.

  • Hint: some of the lines of the helix seem pretty long. Break it up like this: most of the lines are straight with little kinks that as a whole ad up to a curve. Draw little sections that seem pretty straight - that way you're comparing the lines by the angles they diverge towards or away from vertical and horizontal. Break it up like in this picture:

  • There's no need to talk to yourself, or use language at all. When you're in R-mode, there's no use for words. R-mode does fine entirely without words. Just keep referring to the screen, wordlessly comparing, relating, and scanning what is before your eyes.

  • Reminder: words only get in the way. No need to say things like "well if this part is here, then this must go there..." - you don't have to reason anything out. Just draw what you see. It's all right there. Focus on how one line or contour seems to arise out of the one before it, compare widths, angles, and lengths. Compare those lengths or angles to the one you've just recorded.

Keep Going....

  • You can look at your paper occasionally to reference a relation, a starting point, or a quick proportion. But don't get hung up on it. You're bound to have discrepancies in relative size and proportion. Don't' worry!

Like the pure contour method, the vast majority of your time in this exercise should be spent on observing and recording what you see. Maybe 10% of the time should you be looking at the paper.

  • If you get stuck on a part that seems too difficult, the tendency is to access your memory - this pulls you out of the real-time, in-the-now, direct experience of R-mode. To avoid the "memory bin trap" of L-mode do this: Draw the area or contour immediately next to or around the troublesome part. That will shift you away from naming it, will steer you around L-mode, and head you back into R-mode.

Step 4

As a reminder: everything you need to know is in front of your eyes. You just need to observe those perceptions - no reason to think, no need for words. The finished picture will be a recording of those fresh, honest observations you made while you were immersed in R-mode.

So that's your job: play reporter and get your observations down. Since you don't need to do anything else, this will feel easy, you'll feel relaxed, and confident as you get engaged with the information in front of you. You'll be fascinated how the puzzle pieces will come together.

You've set up the conditions so R-mode can process the information. And that's why once you can leave the critical, domineering, belligerent L-mode behind, it becomes easy. What you see is just "information". And you're the conduit between the "information" and the paper.

Grab your pencil and begin to draw. Do 4 drawings of the helix (there are 4 formats on the format printout)

Press here for a lone helix picture to draw ...
......or see helix

Now following these exact same directions do:

A) 4 drawings of the antihelix; (you did the Helix above)


b) 4 drawings of the Shadow area :

A lone picture of the antihelix for you to draw.

A lone picture of the shadow area for you to draw

Draw your pictures inside the format:

Format for antihelix

Format for "Shadow area" of ear

Go to Negative Space Drawings of the Ear

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e-mail: jeffkaz@YouCanDraw