As with any drawing, the contours of the female figure drawing will come out naturally if you just let your pencil follow your eye. The female figure below is outlined with carefully observed contour lines.
The arrows in the drawing below, point out some important contour areas that lie within the figure’s outline...her hair, elbows, spine, and lower back.
This figure drawing was done while the model held her pose for three minutes. (Excuse the paper…it has yellowed with age. These drawings were done years ago in university classes, so I hope you can see them well enough to get benefit from them.)
(In this case I was dealing with a live model, but your subject can be anything. The contour line approach will be the same.) The female figure drawing below was from a five-minute pose that I drew in University. The reason that you can see this one better is that it was done with Conté crayon. Conté Crayons don’t fade like pencils do over time.
This was a five-minute pose. (All of these contour drawings are done from the same drawing model.) Notice how her foot comes forward, and notice the slightly detailed contour lines around the fingers, elbows, knees and toes.
Naturally, my originals are much larger than what you see here. The point is, draw large when you are learning (18 x 24 inch newsprint works great)! This frees up your hand and allows you to get your whole body into it, resulting in more fluid drawings.
This pose was a bit more than three minutes. It is also a contour drawing (note that gesture and contour work hand in hand). You can feel her gesture.
Contour lines will finally become a part of you and they will, in turn, become a part of all of your drawings.