Drawing is something everyone does at some point in their lives.

We learn to paint and draw from a very young age, even before we learn to talk.

From the basics of our first stick figures to the moment we learn how to draw animals more realistically and get used to gesture drawing, as a means of expression and communication, drawing can provide a basis for a variety of careers.

Art and drawing can take many forms, but the basis is the same for all of them: being able to draw basic shapes, use basic techniques, colours and put a piece together.

Contrary to what some people may think, drawing isn’t a talent you’re born with – it is something you can learn at any age.

This is probably the most important thing to bear in mind. Drawing is universal and anyone can learn how to do it.

As the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin said:

 There is no one beautiful style, beautiful drawing, nor beautiful colours: there is only one true beauty, the beauty of the truth which reveals itself.

What are the different types of drawing? What are their characteristics?

What is Observational Drawing?

Let’s begin by looking at observational drawing.


Because it forms a basis for so many disciplines in drawing.

Your art teacher will start teaching basic drawing lessons in techniques through exercises involving simple objects in class.

How can observational drawing help beginners?

  • Learning to master control of your drawing tools
  • Developing observational skills
  • Faithfully reproducing real-life objects
  • Getting used to artistic techniques including working with one point perspective, proportion and light and shade

Observational drawing is hard work and can take a lot of time.

The objective of observational drawing is to reproduce an identical representation of the model on paper. In order to achieve this, you have to learn to ‘disconnect’ your brain and focus on how the thing in front of you actually looks, rather than interpreting it a three-dimensional object.

Observational drawing is all about reproducing real life on paper
Sketching a landscape demands an eye for detail as well as a good amount of patience ¦ source: Visualhunt - Aidan Meyer

Consider your hand as an extension of your eyesight.

Learning how to draw the human body, a face, and even a still life drawing are all difficult exercises the first time you attempt them, however, practicing them is essential to becoming a skilled artist.

Getting the hang of representing characteristics of an object opens up the diverse world of art to you.

Having the ability to perfectly reproduce a portrait, landscape or another object gives you the means to express yourself through your art and explore your creative side further.

Coming up with ideas is one thing, but knowing how to materialise them on a blank sheet of paper is another.

Regularly practicing your observational drawing skills will allow you to work on new techniques and styles that you will use throughout your artistic career.

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What is Caricature Drawing?

Once you’ve learnt how to draw a portrait of a person, you can start to have a bit of fun by exaggerating their features in a move away from realism to produce a caricature portrait drawing. Not only will this give you a chance to use your imagination, the person you draw will also appreciate your efforts!

Drawing caricatures has a long history spanning several centuries.

The traces of caricature drawing on Greek vases show that the practice may go back to antiquity.

Caricatures, like most styles of drawing, began as engravings, but the development of printing (which came about during the Renaissance) facilitated the distribution of satirical drawings.

The birth of satirical drawing is strongly linked to a major event in European history: the French Revolution.

Drawing became a means of criticising society and condemning the abuse of power.

Satirical newspapers started to develop and the caricature became a universal method of expression.

The reason for this was that anyone could understand a drawing, so a shocking picture which ridiculed a certain person had a greater impact than words when it came to changing someone’s image.

Does the idea of creating amusing portraits appeal to you?

In order to be able to do this, you’ll need to have mastered the drawing basics.

Drawing a caricatured portrait requires the artist to have good observational skills which will help them to decide which characteristics should be exaggerated in their picture.

You should also work on your figure drawing and portrait drawing abilities in particular, as learning how to draw people will provide a firm foundation for learning to draw faces and how to sketch caricatures.

Whether you learn about the art of drawing through step by step drawing tutorials, extra-curricular art instruction or an online drawing course, the pencil is yours to master!

With any portrait, you should start by tracing the main characteristics of the face whilst ensuring a resemblance to the person you are drawing.

Next, work on the details which will make your caricature an exaggerated piece rather than a portrait.

  • Do they have sleepy eyes?
  • A particularly wide smile?
  • An interesting hairline?

It all depends on the appearance of the person you’re drawing.

Drawing a caricature is an opportunity for you to have fun with your art through exaggerating small details whilst keeping your portrait recognisable as the person you’re drawing.

Drawing caricatures doesn’t just mean drawing what you fancy. The people who look at your finished piece should be able to recognise the person in the picture upon first glance.

To learn how to create art like this, try to sketch celebrities and members of your family, as drawing faces you know well will give you the means to analyse their appearence.

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What is Editorial Cartooning?

There is only one step when going from caricature drawings to editorial cartoons.

Editorial or political cartoonists are caricature specialists.

Their job is to give their opinion on a news item through their humorous pencil drawings. They usually achieve this by criticising aspects of society or political affairs without a sitter to pose for their painting.

Political cartooning is particularly prevalent in France, where the controversial right-wing satirical comic, Charlie Hebdo, was born.

The 2015 attack on the makers of Charlie Hebdo put political cartoonists at the heart of current affairs and demonstrated the risks associated with their profession.

Editorial cartooning aims to provoke a reaction from those who look at the drawing and encourage a newspaper’s readership to ask questions. In order to do this, editorial illustrators use dark humour, stereotypes and irony.

Editorial cartooning is less about the drawing and more about the subject it depicts. What should shock readers isn’t the cartoon, but the story that has inspired it.

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Editorial illustrators can be viewed as a type of journalist
Editorial illustration is all about the message behind the caricature ¦ source: Visualhunt - DonkeyHotey

Editorial illustrators don’t think up the horrors they depict by themselves, rather they find them in society.

We must also remember that an editorial cartoonist is above all a type of journalist who analyses and produces criticism. Instead of writing an article, they send a message through a quick drawing.

The most effective cartoon satire is funny as well as thought-provoking!

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What is Technical Illustration?

Is your mind more mathematically-oriented?

Are you a scientist at heart?

Technical drawing can be considered to be the opposite of creative drawing. This style of realistic drawing is essential to engineering and concerns representing all kinds of prototypes of products through drawing.

It is particularly important as a means of communication, as finished drawings should aid the transmission of essential information which can help developers with new concepts and products.

Here are a few examples of the uses of technical drawing:

  • Architecture
  • Vehicle design
  • Electronics

The key word in technical illustration is precision.

Before producing a specific piece, a concrete representation of all of its angles is required.

Drawings from numerous angles, with cross-sections and scaling create an exhaustive representation of the product which includes useful information for the manufacturer.

Technical illustrations are usually created by a team of professionals working on a project.

Each technical illustrator must strictly conform to several characteristics of the product they are drawing, such as:

  • The format of the drawings
  • Characteristics depicted in the drawing
  • Key points to highlight on the drawing
  • The number of angles the product is drawn from

You may picture a technical illustrator sitting in front of a desk, working with their pair of compasses and a protractor. Today, the discipline of technical drawing has changed significantly since these days, and professionals now work on computers with design software.

Technical illustration demands a great deal of attention to detail and self-discipline, and its practitioners are rewarded by their ability to work in a variety of fields.

Discovering Drawing Techniques

We’ve looked at the main types of drawing. Before finding your feet in the world of art and discovering your personal drawing style, you should learn some drawing techniques.

If you’re still at school, your art teacher will introduce you to the different drawing materials used by artists.

Varying the materials you use in your art will help you find what you enjoy
Getting to know your drawing tools will open up a world of creation ¦ source: Pixabay - pixel2013

Depending on the type of sketches you’re aiming to produce, you’ll be able to choose from a range of methods, and some with suit your project sketchbook better than others.

By now, you’ll have already gained some experienced sketching with a graphite pencil on paper. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your materials, tools and techniques and see how your work varies depending on these things.

Here are a few things you may come across when trying out new ways of creating art:

  • Charcoal: Charcoal is something you’re bound to encounter as an artist. It is created from burnt shrub branches and it particularly suited to portraiture.
  • Red Chalk: As its name suggests, this chalk is pigmented with earthy reds as well as ochre and even orange tones. Red chalk is ideal for creating depth in pictures.
  • Graphite: Graphite is the proper name for the lead found in everyday pencils. It is usually the first drawing tool we encounter and especially useful for creating contrast with shading techniques.

When it comes to producing your own drawings, you’ll quickly find that you can change the style of your drawings by changing your drawing technique.

You may use thick strokes to sharpen an outline, use negative space, blending, doodle and experiment with textures, hatching, contour, use different types of drawing pencil and paper, learn to create shadows in a perspective drawing, or even try digital drawing and learn about rendering!

So, whether you choose to draw with a ball-point pen, oil pastel, coloured pencils or watercolor paints, experimentation is the best way to find your personal drawing and painting style!

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.