Drawing is a form of visual art in which a person uses various drawing
instruments to mark paper or another two-dimensional medium.
Instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax
colored pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, various kinds of
erasers, markers, styluses, various metals (such as silverpoint) and
A drawing instrument releases a small amount of material onto a
surface, leaving a visible mark. The most common support for drawing
is paper, although other materials, such as cardboard, plastic,
leather, canvas, and board, may be used. Temporary drawings may be
made on a blackboard or whiteboard or indeed almost anything. The
medium has been a popular and fundamental means of public expression
throughout human history. It is one of the simplest and most efficient
means of communicating visual ideas. The wide availability of
drawing instruments makes drawing one of the most common artistic
In addition to its more artistic forms, drawing is frequently used in
commercial illustration, animation, architecture, engineering and
technical drawing. A quick, freehand drawing, usually not intended as
a finished work, is sometimes called a sketch. An artist who practices
or works in technical drawing may be called a drafter, draftsman or a
2.1 Notable draftsmen
6 Form and proportion
10 Seven Ps of drawing
11 See also
13 External links
Madame Palmyre with Her Dog, 1897. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Galileo Galilei. Phases of the Moon. 1616.
Drawing is one of the major forms of expression within the visual
arts. It is generally concerned with the marking of lines and areas of
tone onto paper/other material, where the accurate representation of
the visual world is expressed upon a plane surface. Traditional
drawings were monochrome, or at least had little colour, while
modern colored-pencil drawings may approach or cross a boundary
between drawing and painting. In Western terminology, drawing is
distinct from painting, even though similar media often are employed
in both tasks. Dry media, normally associated with drawing, such as
chalk, may be used in pastel paintings.
Drawing may be done with a
liquid medium, applied with brushes or pens. Similar supports likewise
can serve both: painting generally involves the application of liquid
paint onto prepared canvas or panels, but sometimes an underdrawing is
drawn first on that same support.
Drawing is often exploratory, with
considerable emphasis on observation, problem-solving and composition.
Drawing is also regularly used in preparation for a painting, further
obfuscating their distinction. Drawings created for these purposes are
There are several categories of drawing, including figure drawing,
cartooning, doodling, and free hand. There are also many drawing
methods, such as line drawing, stippling, shading, the surrealist
method of entopic graphomania (in which dots are made at the sites of
impurities in a blank sheet of paper, and lines are then made between
the dots), and tracing (drawing on a translucent paper, such as
tracing paper, around the outline of preexisting shapes that show
through the paper).
A quick, unrefined drawing may be called a sketch.
In fields outside art, technical drawings or plans of buildings,
machinery, circuitry and other things are often called "drawings" even
when they have been transferred to another medium by printing.
Drawing as a Form of Communication
Drawing is one of the oldest forms of human expression, with evidence
for its existence preceding that of written communication. It is
believed that drawing was used as a specialised form of communication
before the invention of the written language, demonstrated by
the production of cave and rock paintings around 30,000 years ago (Art
of the Upper Paleolithic). These drawings, known as pictograms,
depicted objects and abstract concepts. The sketches and paintings
produced by Neolithic times were eventually stylised and simplified in
to symbol systems (proto-writing) and eventually into early writing
Drawing in the Arts
Drawing is used to express one's creativity, and therefore has been
prominent in the world of art. Throughout much of history, drawing was
regarded as the foundation for artistic practise. Initially,
artists used and reused wooden tablets for the production of their
drawings. Following the widespread availability of paper in the
14th century, the use of drawing in the arts increased. At this point,
drawing was commonly used as a tool for thought and investigation,
acting as a study medium whilst artists were preparing for their final
pieces of work. The Renaissance brought about a great
sophistication in drawing techniques, enabling artists to represent
things more realistically than before, and revealing an interest
in geometry and philosophy.
The invention of the first widely available form of photography led to
a shift in the use of drawing in the arts.
Photography took over
from drawing as a superior method for accurately representing visual
phenomena, and artists began to abandon traditional drawing
Modernism in the arts encouraged "imaginative
originality" and artists' approach to drawing became more
Drawing Outside the Arts
Although the use of drawing is extensive in the arts, its practice is
not confined purely to this field. Before the widespread availability
of paper, 12th-century monks in European monasteries used intricate
drawings to prepare illustrated, illuminated manuscripts on vellum and
Drawing has also been used extensively in the field of
science, as a method of discovery, understanding and explanation. In
Galileo Galilei explained the changing phases of the
moon through his observational telescopic drawings. Additionally,
in 1924, geophysicist
Alfred Wegener used illustrations to visually
demonstrate the origin of the continents.
Drawing became significant as an art form around 1500, as artists like
Albrecht Dürer came to the fore; in the early 15th century,
engravings began to be made into prints and later came to be used as
Notable draftsmen by century
14th, 15th and 16th: Leonardo da Vinci •
Albrecht Dürer •
Hans Holbein the Younger
Hans Holbein the Younger •
Pisanello • Raphael
17th: Claude •
Jacques de Gheyn II
Jacques de Gheyn II •
Guercino • Nicolas Poussin
Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens • Pieter Saenredam
François Boucher •
Jean-Honoré Fragonard • Giovanni
Battista Tiepolo • Antoine Watteau
Aubrey Beardsley •
Paul Cézanne •
Jacques-Louis David •
Honoré Daumier •
Edgar Degas •
Théodore Géricault • Francisco
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres •
Pierre-Paul Prud'hon •
Odilon Redon •
John Ruskin •
Georges Seurat • Henri de
Toulouse-Lautrec • Vincent van Gogh
Max Beckmann •
Jean Dubuffet •
M. C. Escher
M. C. Escher • Arshile
George Grosz •
Paul Klee •
Oscar Kokoschka • Käthe
Alfred Kubin •
André Masson •
Alphonse Mucha •
Jules Pascin •
Pablo Picasso • Egon Schiele
Antoine Watteau, trois crayons technique
The medium is the means by which ink, pigment or color are delivered
onto the drawing surface. Most drawing media are either dry (e.g.
graphite, charcoal, pastels, Conté, silverpoint), or use a fluid
solvent or carrier (marker, pen and ink). Watercolor pencils can be
used dry like ordinary pencils, then moistened with a wet brush to get
various painterly effects. Very rarely, artists have drawn with
(usually decoded) invisible ink. Metalpoint drawing usually employs
either of two metals: silver or lead. More rarely used are gold,
platinum, copper, brass, bronze, and tinpoint.
Paper comes in a variety of different sizes and qualities, ranging
from newspaper grade up to high quality and relatively expensive paper
sold as individual sheets. Papers vary in texture, hue, acidity,
and strength when wet. Smooth paper is good for rendering fine detail,
but a more "toothy" paper holds the drawing material better. Thus a
coarser material is useful for producing deeper contrast.
Newsprint and typing paper may be useful for practice and rough
Tracing paper is used to experiment over a half-finished
drawing, and to transfer a design from one sheet to another. Cartridge
paper is the basic type of drawing paper sold in pads. Bristol board
and even heavier acid-free boards, frequently with smooth finishes,
are used for drawing fine detail and do not distort when wet media
(ink, washes) are applied. Vellum is extremely smooth and suitable for
very fine detail. Coldpressed watercolor paper may be favored for ink
drawing due to its texture.
Acid-free, archival quality paper keeps its color and texture far
longer than wood pulp based paper such as newsprint, which turns
yellow and becomes brittle much sooner.
The basic tools are a drawing board or table, pencil sharpener and
eraser, and for ink drawing, blotting paper. Other tools used are
circle compass, ruler, and set square. Fixative is used to prevent
pencil and crayon marks from smudging.
Drafting tape is used to secure
paper to drawing surface, and also to mask an area to keep it free of
accidental marks, such as sprayed or spattered materials and washes.
An easel or slanted table is used to keep the drawing surface in a
suitable position, which is generally more horizontal than the
position used in painting.
Raphael, study for what became the Alba Madonna, with other sketches
Almost all draftsmen use their hands and fingers to apply the media,
with the exception of some handicapped individuals who draw with their
mouth or feet.
Prior to working on an image, the artist typically explores how
various media work. They may try different drawing implements on
practice sheets to determine value and texture, and how to apply the
implement to produce various effects.
The artist's choice of drawing strokes affects the appearance of the
Pen and ink
Pen and ink drawings often use hatching – groups of parallel
lines. Cross-hatching uses hatching in two or more different
directions to create a darker tone. Broken hatching, or lines with
intermittent breaks, form lighter tones – and controlling the
density of the breaks achieves a gradation of tone.
dots to produce tone, texture and shade. Different textures can be
achieved depending on the method used to build tone.
Drawings in dry media often use similar techniques, though pencils and
drawing sticks can achieve continuous variations in tone. Typically a
drawing is filled in based on which hand the artist favors. A
right-handed artist draws from left to right to avoid smearing the
Erasers can remove unwanted lines, lighten tones, and clean up
stray marks. In a sketch or outline drawing, lines drawn often follow
the contour of the subject, creating depth by looking like shadows
cast from a light in the artist's position.
Sometimes the artist leaves a section of the image untouched while
filling in the remainder. The shape of the area to preserve can be
painted with masking fluid or cut out of a frisket and applied to the
drawing surface, protecting the surface from stray marks until the
mask is removed.
Another method to preserve a section of the image is to apply a
spray-on fixative to the surface. This holds loose material more
firmly to the sheet and prevents it from smearing. However the
fixative spray typically uses chemicals that can harm the respiratory
system, so it should be employed in a well-ventilated area such as
Another technique is subtractive drawing in which the drawing surface
is covered with graphite or charcoal and then erased to make the
A pencil drawing with hatching and shading
Shading is the technique of varying the tonal values on the paper to
represent the shade of the material as well as the placement of the
shadows. Careful attention to reflected light, shadows and highlights
can result in a very realistic rendition of the image.
Blending uses an implement to soften or spread the original drawing
strokes. Blending is most easily done with a medium that does not
immediately fix itself, such as graphite, chalk, or charcoal, although
freshly applied ink can be smudged, wet or dry, for some effects. For
shading and blending, the artist can use a blending stump, tissue, a
kneaded eraser, a fingertip, or any combination of them. A piece of
chamois is useful for creating smooth textures, and for removing
material to lighten the tone. Continuous tone can be achieved with
graphite on a smooth surface without blending, but the technique is
laborious, involving small circular or oval strokes with a somewhat
Shading techniques that also introduce texture to the drawing include
hatching and stippling. A number of other methods produce texture. In
addition to the choice of paper, drawing material and technique affect
texture. Texture can be made to appear more realistic when it is drawn
next to a contrasting texture; a coarse texture is more obvious when
placed next to a smoothly blended area. A similar effect can be
achieved by drawing different tones close together. A light edge next
to a dark background stands out to the eye, and almost appears to
float above the surface.
Form and proportion
Proportions of the human body
Measuring the dimensions of a subject while blocking in the drawing is
an important step in producing a realistic rendition of the subject.
Tools such as a compass can be used to measure the angles of different
sides. These angles can be reproduced on the drawing surface and then
rechecked to make sure they are accurate. Another form of measurement
is to compare the relative sizes of different parts of the subject
with each other. A finger placed at a point along the drawing
implement can be used to compare that dimension with other parts of
the image. A ruler can be used both as a straightedge and a device to
Variation of proportion with age
When attempting to draw a complicated shape such as a human figure, it
is helpful at first to represent the form with a set of primitive
volumes. Almost any form can be represented by some combination of the
cube, sphere, cylinder, and cone. Once these basic volumes have been
assembled into a likeness, then the drawing can be refined into a more
accurate and polished form. The lines of the primitive volumes are
removed and replaced by the final likeness.
Drawing the underlying
construction is a fundamental skill for representational art, and is
taught in many books and schools. Its correct application resolves
most uncertainties about smaller details, and makes the final image
A more refined art of figure drawing relies upon the artist possessing
a deep understanding of anatomy and the human proportions. A trained
artist is familiar with the skeleton structure, joint location, muscle
placement, tendon movement, and how the different parts work together
during movement. This allows the artist to render more natural poses
that do not appear artificially stiff. The artist is also familiar
with how the proportions vary depending on the age of the subject,
particularly when drawing a portrait.
Two-point perspective drawing
Linear perspective is a method of portraying objects on a flat surface
so that the dimensions shrink with distance. Each set of parallel,
straight edges of any object, whether a building or a table, follows
lines that eventually converge at a vanishing point. Typically this
convergence point is somewhere along the horizon, as buildings are
built level with the flat surface. When multiple structures are
aligned with each other, such as buildings along a street, the
horizontal tops and bottoms of the structures typically converge at a
When both the fronts and sides of a building are drawn, then the
parallel lines forming a side converge at a second point along the
horizon (which may be off the drawing paper.) This is a two-point
perspective. Converging the vertical lines to a third point above
or below the horizon then produces a three-point perspective.
Depth can also be portrayed by several techniques in addition to the
perspective approach above. Objects of similar size should appear ever
smaller the further they are from the viewer. Thus the back wheel of a
cart appears slightly smaller than the front wheel. Depth can be
portrayed through the use of texture. As the texture of an object gets
further away it becomes more compressed and busy, taking on an
entirely different character than if it was close. Depth can also be
portrayed by reducing the contrast in more distant objects, and by
making their colors less saturated. This reproduces the effect of
atmospheric haze, and cause the eye to focus primarily on objects
drawn in the foreground.
Chiaroscuro study drawing by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
The composition of the image is an important element in producing an
interesting work of artistic merit. The artist plans element placement
in the art to communicate ideas and feelings with the viewer. The
composition can determine the focus of the art, and result in a
harmonious whole that is aesthetically appealing and stimulating.
The illumination of the subject is also a key element in creating an
artistic piece, and the interplay of light and shadow is a valuable
method in the artist's toolbox. The placement of the light sources can
make a considerable difference in the type of message that is being
presented. Multiple light sources can wash out any wrinkles in a
person's face, for instance, and give a more youthful appearance. In
contrast, a single light source, such as harsh daylight, can serve to
highlight any texture or interesting features.
When drawing an object or figure, the skilled artist pays attention to
both the area within the silhouette and what lies outside. The
exterior is termed the negative space, and can be as important in the
representation as the figure. Objects placed in the background of the
figure should appear properly placed wherever they can be viewed.
Drawing process in the Academic Study of a Male Torso by
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1801, National Museum, Warsaw)
A study is a draft drawing that is made in preparation for a planned
final image. Studies can be used to determine the appearances of
specific parts of the completed image, or for experimenting with the
best approach for accomplishing the end goal. However a well-crafted
study can be a piece of art in its own right, and many hours of
careful work can go into completing a study.
Individuals display differences in their ability to produce visually
accurate drawings. A visually accurate drawing is described as
being "recognized as a particular object at a particular time and in a
particular space, rendered with little addition of visual detail that
can not be seen in the object represented or with little deletion of
Investigative studies have aimed to explain the reasons why some
individuals draw better than others. One study posited four key
abilities in the drawing process: perception of objects being drawn,
ability to make good representational decisions, motor skills required
for mark-making and the drawer's own perception of their drawing.
Following this hypothesis, several studies have sought to conclude
which of these processes are most significant in affecting the
accuracy of drawings.
Motor control is an important physical component in the 'Production
Phase' of the drawing process. It has been suggested that motor
control plays a role in drawing ability, though its effects are not
It has been suggested that an individual's ability to perceive an
object they are drawing is the most important stage in the drawing
process. This suggestion is supported by the discovery of a robust
relationship between perception and drawing ability.
This evidence acted as the basis of Betty Edwards' how-to drawing
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Edwards aimed to
teach her readers how to draw, based on the development of the
reader's perceptual abilities.
Furthermore, the influential artist and art critic John Ruskin
emphasised the importance of perception in the drawing process in his
book The Elements of Drawing. He stated that "For I am nearly
convinced, that once we see keenly enough, there is very little
difficult in drawing what we see".
This has also been shown to influence one's ability to create visually
Short-term memory plays an important part in
drawing as one’s gaze shifts between the object they are drawing and
the drawing itself.
Some studies comparing artists to non-artists have found that artists
spend more time thinking strategically while drawing. In particular,
artists spend more time on 'metacognitive' activities such as
considering different hypothetical plans for how they might progress
with a drawing.
Seven Ps of drawing
Fundamental skills of drawing were described and analysed in the book
Draw Like da Vinci  by the artist Susan Dorothea White. The 7 Ps
Proportion (architecture) and Body proportions)
Perception (motivated by passion)
Position (of the drawer)
Placement (on the page)
Priority (given to the parts of the drawing).
Main article: Outline of drawing and drawings
Generative art (computer-generated art)
^ www.sbctc.edu (adapted). "Module 6: Media for 2-D Art" (PDF).
Saylor.org. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
^ "the definition of draftsman". Retrieved 1 January 2017.
^ See grisaille and chiaroscuro
^ a b Tversky, B (2011). "Visualizing thought". Topics in Cognitive
Science. 3 (3): 499–535. doi:10.1111/j.1756-8765.2010.01113.x.
^ Farthing, S (2011). "The Bigger Picture of Drawing" (PDF).
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^ Robinson, A (2009). Writing and script: a very short introduction.
New York: Oxford University Press.
^ Walker, J. F; Duff, L; Davies, J (2005). "Old Manuals and New
Pencils". Drawing- The Process. Bristol: Intellect Books.
^ See the discussion on erasable drawing boards and 'tafeletten' in
van de Wetering, Ernst. Rembrandt: The Painter at Work.
^ Burton, J. "Preface" (PDF).
^ Chamberlain, R (2013). "
Drawing Conclusions: An exploration of the
cognitive and neuroscientific foundations of representational
^ Davis, P; Duff, L; Davies, J (2005). "
Drawing a Blank".
The Process. Bristol: Intellect Books. pp. 15–25.
^ Simmons, S (2011). "Philosophical Dimension of
^ Poe, E. A. (1840). The Daguerreotype. Classic Essays on Photography.
New Haven, CN: Leete's Island Books. pp. 37–38.
^ a b c Kovats, T (2005). The
Drawing Book. London: Black Dog
^ Duff, L; Davies, J (2005).
Drawing – The Process. Bristol:
^ Hinrich Sieveking, "German Draughtsmanship in the Ages of Dürer and
Goethe", British Museum. Accessed 20 February 2016
^ ArtCyclopedia, February 2003, "Masterful Leonardo and Graphic
Dürer". Accessed 20 February 2016
^ lara Broecke, Cennino Cennini's Il Libro dell'Arte: a new English
Translation and Commentary with Italian Transcription, Archetype 2015
^ Mayer, Ralph. The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques.
Viking. ISBN 0-670-83701-6.
^ "The Amazing
Art of Disabled Artists". Webdesigner Depot. 16 March
2010. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
^ This is unrelated to the hatching system in heraldry that indicates
tincture (i.e., the color of arms depicted in monochrome.)
^ Guptill, Arthur L. (1930).
Pen and Ink. New York:
Reinhold Publishing Corporation.
^ South, Helen, The Everything
Drawing Book, Adams Media, Avon, MA,
2004, pp. 152–53, ISBN 1593372132
^ Hale, Robert Beverly (1964).
Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters
(45th Anniversary ed.). Watson-Guptill Publications (published 2009).
^ Watson, Ernest W. (1978). Course in
Pencil Sketching: Four Books in
One. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. pp. 167–75.
^ Ostrofsky, J (2011). "A Multi-Stage Attention Hypothesis of Drawing
^ a b c d Cohen, D. J; Bennett, S. (1997). "Why can't most people draw
what they see?". Journal of Experimental Psychology. 67 (6): 609–21.
^ van Somers, P (1989). "A system for drawing and drawing-related
neuropsychology". Cognitive Neuropsychology. 6: 117–64.
^ Cohen, D. J.; Jones, H. E. (2008). and jones - aca-2-1-8.pdf "How
shape constanct related to drawing accuracy" Check url= value (help)
(PDF). The Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. 2 (1):
^ Edwards, B (1989).
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. New York,
NY: Putnam. ISBN 978-1585429202.
^ Ruskin, John (1857). The Elements of Drawing. Mineola, NY: Dover
^ McManus, I. C.; Chamberlain, R. S.; Loo, P.-K.; Rankin, Q.; Riley,
H.; Brunswick, N. (2010). "
Art students who cannot draw: exploring the
relations between drawing ability, visual memory, accuracy of copying,
and dyslexia" (PDF). Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the
Arts. 4: 18–30. doi:10.1037/a0017335.
^ Fayena-Tawil, F.; Kozbelt, A.; Sitaras, S. (2011). "Think global,
act local: A protocol analysis comparison of artists' and nonartists'
cognitions, metacognitions, and evaluations while drawing". Psychology
of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. 5: 135–45.
^ White, Susan D. (2006). Draw Like da Vinci. London: Cassell
Illustrated, pp. 42–61. ISBN 9781844034444.
Edwards, Betty. The New
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; 3Rev Ed edition, 2001,
Brommer, Gerald F. Exploring Drawing. Worcester, Massachusetts: Davis
Bodley Gallery, New York, N.Y., Modern master drawings, 1971,
Holcomb, M. (2009).
Pen and Parchment :
Drawing in the Middle
Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Hillberry, J. D.
Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil, North Light
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Landa, Robin. Take a line for a walk: A Creativity Journal. Boston:
Wadsworth, 2011. ISBN 978-1-111-83922-2
Ink Techniques, Contemporary Books, 1978,
Ruskin, J. (1857). The Elements of Drawing. Mineola, NY: Dover
Publications Inc. ISBN 978-1-453-84264-5
Spears, Heather. The Creative Eye. London: Arcturus. 2007.
World Book, Inc. The World Book Encyclopedia Volume 5, 1988,
Drawing/Thinking: Confronting an Electronic Age, edited by Marc Treib,
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Drawing.
Look up drawing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikiversity has learning resources about Drawing
Drawing Development in Children
On Drawing, an essay about the craft of drawing, by artist Norman
Nason. Archived from the original on April 25, 2012.
Line and Form (1900) by Walter Crane at Project Gutenberg
Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor
Castle, exhibition catalog fully online as PDF from The Metropolitan
Art (a great drawing resource).
Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, exhibition catalog fully online
as PDF from The Metropolitan Museum of
Art (a great drawing resource).
Drawing in the Middle Ages A summary of how drawing was used as part
of the artistic process in the Middle Ages.
List of artistic media