Drawing Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips to Improve

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Drawing skills and activities are a fundamental aspect of many creative practices. You may use them to express your plans and ideas. Learning about different drawing abilities may help you apply them in different parts of your career. In this article, we describe drawing skills, discuss various ones you can use and provide tips to help you improve them.

What are drawing skills?

Drawing skills are the ability to express yourself through illustration. You can use different mediums and tools to create images, forms or shapes. You can make drawings on canvas, paper, wood, ceramic, plaster or industry materials. Some tools you may use to draw include coloured pencils, chalk, crayons, charcoal, ink, graphite or pastels. Drawing may also refer to an artistic means of expression where a creator may show their perspective of the world. Some factors that influence drawing include the subject, medium, tools or purpose of the projects. You may draw in various careers, including:

  • architecture

  • art teaching

  • advertising

  • illustration

  • interior design

  • fashion design

  • graphic design

  • plumbing

  • tattoo artistry

  • makeup artistry

  • technical illustration

  • cartoon illustration

Related: How to Write a Successful Tattoo Artist Resume in 9 Steps

Examples of drawing skills

The different types of drawing abilities correspond to different categories of drawing. Here are some examples:

Cartoon drawing

Cartoon drawings comically express ideas and perspectives of the world. You may use exaggerated colours and shapes to express tone and emotion in various images. Artists may use cartoons in graphic design, animations, advertising or illustrations.

Related: How to Find Jobs in Animation and Build A Career in it

Caricature drawing

Caricature drawings are images that oversimplify or overdramatise the subjects. For example, they may personify an object or shrink or enlarge a human body. You may apply caricature drawing abilities in graphic design, purchasing or animation.

Line drawing

Line drawing involves making illustrations using continuous straight lines without shading. It may help you learn how to use angles and curves without emphasising details. You may create an entire image in a line drawing without picking up your tool from the drawing surface.

Figure drawing

Figure drawing or still life drawing involves drawing from observing the physical world. You may draw objects like fruits, humans or other items in the environment. Art instructors may use figure drawing to help you learn the fundamentals of drawing, proportions, perspective and shading.

Gesture drawing

Gesture drawing is like figure drawing, as it gets inspiration from real-life subjects. It differs from figure drawing because it focuses on capturing actions, pauses, form and movement. The subject or model may change their pose after a few minutes to portray motion.


Photorealism or hyper-realism is a concept of making a drawing look so real that it appears like a photograph. An artist may get inspiration for this technique from animals, human subjects, cityscapes, landscapes and nature. Photorealism makes a drawing look authentic by focusing on details, shading and contours.

Related: How to Become a Photographer (Skills Included)

Perspective drawing

Perspective drawing or anamorphic or 3D drawing focuses on creating a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface, such as paper. To create perspective drawings, you may focus on space, volume, light, distance, scale and surface to relate various objects in the drawing.


Pointillism is a technique you may apply in both paintings and drawings. It's where you create an image using the stippling method, which focuses on using many tiny dots to form an image. When you view the drawing from a distance, you see a realistic image.

Scientific illustrations

An artist may use drawing abilities to create scientific illustrations or diagrams to communicate various concepts and make them easy to understand. These illustrations focus on scientific subjects like the human body, naturally occurring objects or animals. The illustrations may use labels and arrows to point to information and show how various parts interact with each other.

Related: What Does an Illustrator Do? (And How to Become One)

Silhouette drawing

A silhouette drawing is an image or design that outlines an object in a single tone or hue. They're usually in black and white, where one colour serves as the background and the other creates the silhouette. Silhouettes are common for profile portraits, and they only use lines and curves and no details.

Scratchboard drawing

A scratchboard drawing or scraperboard drawing is an image or illustration you make on a cardboard sheet with thin Indian ink and clay layers. You usually use a sharp tool known as a scratchboard nib to carve up the ink and reveal the clay. The picture may become brighter with more lines.

Technical drawing

A technical drawing depicts precise plans and diagrams to show how to construct or build something. They may also show how something functions. Technical drawings are common among professionals like electricians, contractors, architects, engineers, automotive mechanics and plumbers.

Related: What Is a Draftsman? And How To Become One in 3 Steps

Sketch drawing

A sketch is a drawing with less refined and unpolished lines and edges. You can create sketches with quick, simple marks without using much attention to detail. Sketchers may help capture important subjects in a short time. You may have sketches for interior designs, fashion designs, courtroom drawings and automotive concepts.

Tips to help you improve your skills in drawing

Here are some tips you can use to help you improve your skills:

Start drawing simple things around you

Start practising your skills by drawing simple things around you before you progress to more complex illustrations. You may draw simple items in your immediate environment like fruits, utensils or furniture. Starting with simple items may help develop the skills and confidence you can then apply in complex drawings.

Exercise skills in drawing daily

Exercise daily to improve your skills, coordination and speed. Develop some warm-up routines to help your hands and arms work better. Identify your weaknesses and work to improve them. Develop a positive attitude towards drawing to enable you to personalise and enjoy the art. Once you enjoy drawing, you may have more motivation to create time for it.

Be observant

Be attentive to everything about your subject, from simple lines to meticulous details. You may learn many things from keenly observing diagrams that enable you to identify your mistakes and correct them. Drawing from observation may be a good way to test your skills in drawing. It may analyse your ability to observe, memorise and quickly sketch the object.

Identify where the light is coming from

Light has a significant influence on visual art. Understanding where the light comes from lets you know how to place a figure's shadow appropriately. If the light on a drawing comes from the left side, the shadow falls on the right side of the drawing.

Use references

Find references for your drawings to improve accuracy, realism or precision. You may style your drawings to make your drawing more unique and original. References may help you master your drawings, just like a mathematician uses theorems to develop ideas.

Take classes

Take drawing classes to get professional guidance and improve your drawing abilities. The teacher may help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and improve. You may also learn from your fellow students by observing them.

Related: What Does a Teacher Do? (Responsibilities and Skills)

Keep a sketchbook

Keep a sketchbook to monitor your drawing progress and skills. It may help you display your idea generation skills, improve your creativity and explore interest in various styles, projects and topics. Sketchers also allow you to experiment with various techniques, such as mixed media, to grow your skills, imagination and flexibility.

Focus on basic drawing techniques

Master the basic drawing techniques to establish a foundation for your abilities. Apart from using a tool to draw on a surface, consider the rules of shadowing, perspective, proportion, composition or anatomy. You may also focus on basic pencil skills, including how you hold your pencil or other tools, movement of your arm or drawing in different ways.

Keep your work neat

Using tools like charcoal or graphite may stick to your hands and cause smudges on your drawing. Be careful when you touch the drawing paper to avoid smudging the artwork. You may put a paper or cloth under your hand to avoid smudges. You may start a drawing from the top left corner and finish at the bottom right corner if you're right-handed.

Try different tools

Try different materials and drawing tools to identify the ones you prefer. You may use tools like pencils, gel pens and charcoal and change the tools' texture or colour of the paper to create different effects. Using different materials may also help you develop a unique drawing style.

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