Draw the outline of a figure. Shade one side of it. It looks three-dimensional!
That shading was invented in Greek times and was a great breakthrough in drawing and painting.
But soon after its discovery, vase painters were learning to give the impression of volume without shading.
They were doing that with lines alone.
They had started by using lines to decorate the figures on their beautiful vases.
They painted a black area on a red vase and then scratched lines in it with a stylus. The lines decorated the figures and also helped define them.
In time they began to indicate features of anatomy inside the black silhouettes. They drew a line to represent prominences, like bones, but also shadows. Somehow that worked and gave the figures depth. The folds of drapery that they drew also seemed to show them three-dimensionally.
The vase-artists became experts at showing volume with their lines. And when a new method of vase painting allowed them to paint in rather than scratch in their lines, they carried this kind of representation farther still and produced some of the most beautiful figure drawings in art.
Drawing with the absolute minimum of lines and yet showing the whole volume of a figure has been a challenge to artists ever since. Artists like Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer experimented with these anatomy lines and produced beautiful figures. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man is famous. Here is Dürer’s version of the man in a circle:
And here are other experiments by Albrecht Dürer based on Leonardo drawings :
In more recent times men like Picasso and Matisse excelled at this type of drawing too. Few are able to bring it off. Here are two portraits–the first of Stravinsky by Picasso; the second , called Woman in Russian Blouse II, by Matisse.