Types of Drawings

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Drawing as a visual art involves the rendering of any subject, be it a visual object, an abstract form or a concept, onto any two-dimensional medium. Common surfaces used are paper, canvas and boards, though you may also draw on less conventional materials, such as animal skins, wood, glass and concrete. Drawing media also come in a wide variety, including graphite pencils, charcoals, crayons, pastels, ink and chalk. The difference between the draughtsman and the painter is that the former focuses on form or shape, while the latter places more emphasis on mass and color. Drawings can be classified into several different types, each possessing its own unique challenges—so go pick up your brush and get started.


Portrait drawings depict a person, with particular focus on the subject’s face and expression in an attempt to capture his personality and emotions. Portraits are usually created at a full or three-quarter profile. A good example lies in Albrecht Durer’s drawing of Emperor Maximilian in 1518, where a suggestion of the fatigued resignation of the latter is portrayed in a rough sketch.


Landscape drawings traditionally represent an expanse of natural scenery, though the genre has since evolved to often encompass urban scenes. Landscapes are commonly drawn on a wide surface to express the vastness of outdoor aesthetic elements. Examples of landscape drawings include Van Gogh’s View of Saintes-Maries from 1888 and his Wheat Field with Cypresses at the Haude Galline near Eygalieres from 1889.


Illustrative drawings are a visualized explanation of text often seen in books or alongside newspaper articles, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes. One of the most well-known illustrators is Sandro Boticelli, known for his drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy—a collection of 92 illustrations, which he produced between 1485 and 1495.


Caricatures are exaggerated depictions of a subject—often a person or, as in editorial cartoons, a situation—meant to deliver a compelling message to the viewer. Political humor is often one of the prime focus-points. The term "caricature" comes from the Italian word “caricare,” which means to “load” or “exaggerate.” Honore Daumier, considered by many to be the greatest caricaturist in history, produced more than 4,000 satirical caricatures on French politics in his lifetime.