Drawing is a complex skill, one that requires you to do many things right. This can be very intimidating, and even overwhelming to the newcomers. The good thing is, any of these drawing skills can be learned on its own. Once you learn one, it will be much easier to apply it compared to before you learned it. Some of these skills are more important than others, and without learning them, your growth as an artist can be hindered, while some others can help you make more refined artworks.
Depending on what you want to draw, you may not need to learn every single one of these, but learning them all will help you get a comprehensive artistic knowledge.
I have written a series about some of these concepts, which you can find from the following links:-
If you want extensive definition over different art terms, including many of the ones not mentioned here, check out my book Visual Drawing Glossary, which quickly explains them in layman term, alongside with pictures that illustrate the term.
Let’s take a look at each of these drawing skills:-
Quickly go to:-
Perspective drawing is the art of depicting 3D objects on a 2D paper. In a way that they look realistic & believable, despite the fact it’s drawn on a flat paper.
Perspective can be used to draw human as well. The whole human body can be viewed from perspective (viewed from above or below, for example), or just part of it (a man making a punch toward a camera, where only his arm is drawn in perspective). Understanding perspective can make many of the trickier poses and objects much easier to draw & understand.
If you want to learn more about perspective, you can refer to my detailed series about it here, which includes many step-by-step lessons, as well as easy to follow explanations over the various perspective concepts.
Proportions as a skill are the study of the ratios & the relationships between different objects in order to draw them accurately. This includes drawing each element in the drawing the right size, and in the right place within a drawing.
Proportion is common for drawing humans. Without it, the head could be drawn too big, or the body could be so thin. Bad proportions can totally destroy an otherwise perfect artwork.
Proportions are all about drawing the same object or character consistently each time. Also, training your eyes to measure things on the fly can make you draw faster over time.
Anatomy is the study of the human body in order to draw it right & accurately. It applies to both the male & female body, at various ages. It also applies on studying the anatomy of animals or other creatures, which is a super useful not only to draw these animals, but in case you wanted to create creatures from your imagination as well.
Anatomy involves knowing the bones shapes, the location & shapes of muscles, and even their proportions, which can help you draw very accurate & believable figure.
The term composition means “putting together”. It is the art of arranging the elements of your drawing. Mainly to guide the viewer’s eye toward the main element, or to achieve a certain effect.
Composition is something you did at your drawing at an early age. It’s similar to how you used to place a house, sun, road, into your drawings as you were a kid.
Composition can be very intuitive, but studying it can easily arrange your thoughts, and help you learn many new concepts related to it. So I highly advice you to learn it.
Shading is depicting the darkness level on all or part of the object you’re drawing. It’s done by applying darker color or even black. Likewise, lighting is about depicting the amount of light shed on it, either by using a lighter color, or by erasing some lines.
These two concepts work together to give depth & form to your drawings instantaneously. For that reason, it’s the drawing skill many of us aspire to learn from the very beginning. Though truth to be told, there are other more important concepts to learn way before that, like perspective & proportions.
By understanding lighting & shading, you can create whole artworks, all without drawing any line art. Edges will still be there, but won’t have clear black lines that define them. After all, these edges never existed in the real word in the way we tend to draw them. Being able to draw that way is a sign of mastery of shading & lighting, which is the twin skill of being able to draw line art.
Edge is the outline and other visible edges of any figure or object. They are often drawn using line art, but in many cases, they are drawn thin or not drawn at all to create a certain effect (to indicate the softness of the object, for one).
Besides shading & lighting, thinking of objects as edges & lines is one of two ways to train your brain to draw well.
The art of studying colors, color mixing, and how different combinations of colors work together to serve a desired effect. Certain color combinations work very well together.
Understanding colors is important for creating artworks, interior design, and any form of art.
Since it’s important in digital art, I have dedicated an introduction chapter about it in my book. Getting started with Wacom graphics tablet and Digital Painting With Photoshop . By knowing some basics can be useful, let alone getting deeper into it.
Gesture is a simple drawing that captures the essence of a pose, usually done so quickly, from a period that ranges from few seconds to few minutes, depending on the artist level. It’s often used to practice drawing all sorts of poses.
Besides being an important way to improve your ability to draw poses. Gesture drawing is often used for warming up before a drawing session.
Gesture drawing may seem silly to some artists who never tried it. But it’s an essential skill to learn. It helps you create dynamic drawings that are less stiff.
Many artists draw gestures people on their daily lives. People who are not posing for the artist. Drawing that is made that way tend to be very natural, and pose a good challenge to the artist.
Is an artwork of a drawing that’s used to convey a new idea. It could be a product design or a design for a new character. More often than not, the artist creates more than one concept, and the final concept gets chosen for the final project.
Here’s an example of a character design concept, showing the character from various angles. It also shows the various equipments from the character:-
Another example of a concept is the following sketch of a car:-
Concept art doesn’t need to be a sketch, as it can be a full-fledged artwork:-
We can go on and on looking at various concept arts for all sorts of things. From buildings to planets, dresses & living creatures.
Communication is the use of an artwork or illustration for conveying an idea.
An artwork or a drawing can be a concept, whose role is to communicate the idea of how the product or character looks like. It can also be communicating an idea, send a message or evoke some emotions in the viewer.
Style, or art style, is how a certain artwork looks, which distinguish it from other styles.
An artwork can be realistic, abstract or cartoonish. It could have bright colors or dark grim ones. It can have all sorts of variations that makes it unique, from cultural differences (Islamic, Christian), to a certain period (Victorian style) or even a certain country (Chinese art style).
Artworks are often grouped under their respective style. Islamic ornament is a style, and it has all sorts of styles below it:-
Chinese art style look quite different, and many countries have their own art style:-
Art style can be abstract as well, which doesn’t try to depict reality accurately, but rather in an interesting way:-
There’s no specific order to learn these important drawing skills, but as a general rule, you need to learn the ones impacting your art the most first. So starting with perspective, proportions, gestures & composition. These will give you strong foundation that will help you during your life as an artist. I know that starting with these may seem boring to you, but it’s worth it. It’s kinda irony that some of the most boring practices can make you great at art.
If you’re into drawing the human body in any style, then you got to learn Anatomy. That’s also the case even if you’re going to draw pure cartoon.
Learning to color and shade comes by much later, but you can learn it a bit earlier if you like, as long as you stick to learning the fundamentals. I say this because I know it’s the topic we artists tend to want to draw first.
Drawing is a complex skill, and it involves knowing at least a bit of most of the skills above, if not all of them. You may see similar lists discussed on other sites. You will definitely see the major ones I listed every single time, like perspective, proportions & anatomy.
One of the goals of this blog is to provide lessons on all the concepts presented above, in a way that can help you draw better over time. That’s why I make various series about the different art concepts, so you could learn about them once by one from one place. You can check out the series I wrote in the links below:-
I hope my post has helped you learn new things. If you liked it, please consider subscribing to my newsletter for more updates:-