Definition of “Continuous Line Drawing”

As I mentioned in my first blog, there are many definitions of “Continuous Line Drawing”, most of which refer to a line which does NOT re-connect.

One of these is that the pen never leaves the paper and you draw until the picture is finished, but that you start and end where you like.  Also “Blind Contour Drawing” puts emphasis on looking at the subject throughout whilst you draw a single line.  These types may also have many merged lines and it may be unclear whether there is only one line, eg. when shading is done by repeatedly going over an area with the line.

To me, a line is only Continuous if it ends at the start point.  Lines that do not re-connect I call “One Line” or “Single Line”.  I only use the word “Continuous” if the line completes a circuit continually.   I own a book entitled “Picasso’s One Liners” which has over 50 of his great drawings, which all start and end in different places and, correctly, there is no mention of “Continuous”.

A One Liner in style of Picasso. M BurtonHere is a demonstration drawing I did last year based on a Picasso “One Liner”.  To be “Continuous” the line would need to return from the foot to the start point in the hat.






My definition of “Continuous Line Drawing” is one drawn line which ends back at the start point and the continuous route can be clearly followed throughout.Elephant,. Continuous  line drawing.

My basic style has lots of cross overs of the line, but some artists produce continuous lines which never cross over – which is fine.

Here are the “rules” of my basic style, where the line crosses over itself many times.


  • The finished continuous line has to cross over itself at least once, but must end where it starts.  It can be drawn in sections as long as the completed line is continuous (you don’t have to amaze everyone by doing it in one go without taking the pen off the paper !)
  • Where the line crosses itself it must be clear that there is only one line (not several merged lines).
  • A line can be drawn off the side of a sheet as long as it clearly re-enters the sheet at the corresponding point on the opposite side.  Similarly, if the line goes out at the top it must re-enter at the corresponding point at the bottom.  This enables the continuous route to be still clearly identified.  I call these “Spherical” drawings, in the way that an atlas map of the earth on a flat sheet denotes a globe.

So that is it !  I just wished to make it clear that most of the images which are referred to on the internet as “Continuous Line Drawings” are not really (to me).

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