Bye-bye, Breadth!

As of the fall of 2019, the Breadth section of the AP Studio Art portfolio is gone and TBH, I’m a little sad to see it go. I’ve finely tuned these Breadth assignments for almost two decades and I love them. I’ll probably continue to use a few of them to help lead students into the Sustained Investigation, but I’m maintaining all of the Breadth pages on my website so I can use them with my Advanced Art students. But I’ll also keep them for nostalgia. Looking at the pieces my students have created is like a family reunion.


Cross Contour Line Drawing


1.  Choose an interesting piece  from your own body of art work to replicate in a cross-contour drawing.

You may find it easier to use more cylindrical forms such as bottles, fingers or legs for this exercise. Faces tend to look awkward in cross-contour but there are no limitations on subject matter. 

2.  Lightly sketch the outlines of the simple shapes in the original piece on in pencil to create guidelines.

3.  Draw in pencil cross-contour lines that “wrap” around the objects to define the forms in the composition to emphasize the volume.  Carefully consider the direction of the cross-contour lines.

cross contour lines

4. Go over the pencil lines in black sharpie using a variety of thicknesses of lines and good craftsmanship.  

 •ONLY VARSITY AP STUDENTS MAY USE COLOR!!! If this is your first year in AP Art, using black ink is hard enough…

5.  Be sure to erase all pencil guidelines after you finish your drawing and your ink is completely DRY.

Critique / Evaluation:

Do the cross contour lines follow the objects form?

Is the volume of the objects emphasized byt the cross contour lines  in the drawing?

Did you use good craftsmanship (such as no visible pencil lines or ink smears)?

Below are some of my AP studio art student’s solutions

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Hands:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Feet:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Still Life objects:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Other Cylindrical forms:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Faces:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with Other random stuff:

My student’s Cross-Contour Drawings with COLOR (only Varsity AP may use color!):

Below are old master’s examples of cross contour drawings:


Cool Video:

Each Line One BreathWhile it’s not exactly the same thing as the AP Cross Contour assignment, the drawings by John Franzen show how value can be shown with only the subtle changes in the space between lines. He begins by freehand drawing one very straight line and then slowly copies the line. The inevitable imperfections in his otherwise straight freehand lines become amplified as he continues to copy the previous line.

Good Instructional Video: