Color Choice

in conceptual drawings, colors can be far removed from those found in the natural world. choose your palette to convey mood or to explore pattern rather than to represent reality.

6 Work around the outlines of the flowers, but don't be too concerned if you cross the edges; the overlying colors of the flowers will create a glow around the boundary lines.

7 Bring out the cubic forms that you have already established within the hexagons. Add denser shading to the left-hand faces of the cubes, while keeping their tops and right-hand faces lighter to give the impression of directional lighting; avoid making the edges of the cubes too strong, otherwise the lines could conflict with the floral pattern.

Color the foreground flowers and stems working from the top of the drawing down. Use the same colors as those in the background, but for each foreground flower use the color of the background hexagon immediately to its left. Following this preset system, a clear pattern of color emerges.

► Geometric construction

A limited palette of cool candy colors gives this drawing a contemporary pitch and demonstrates the possibilities of working from second- or third-hand representations of nature.



A drawing or other work of art that is intentionally non-representational.


A transparent or translucent plastic, available in various colors, that can be used as a basis for drawings and overlays.

Advancing color

A warm color, such as yellow, red, or orange, that appears to bring a drawn surface toward the viewer's eye.


A type of image that makes indirect references to other objects or circumstances, inviting and challenging the viewer to explore the connections between the two.

Art paper

Drawing paper made from cotton pulp, rather than wood pulp, for better surface textures and enhanced archival qualities. It is usually thicker than office or sketching paper to prevent buckling when wet, and may be coated with a fine clay compound that creates a smooth surface on one or both sides.


A method of drawing a plan view, especially of a building, where all the lengths are drawn in exact proportion to their true dimensions, and circular forms are drawn as circles rather than ellipses. It is used in technical drawings by designers, engineers, and architects.


Mixing colors or tones on the paper surface so that they blur from one to another. The blending tool can be a finger, a shaper, a tissue, or a rag. Charcoal and pastel are good media for blending.


The art of decorative writing, but also used to describe a form of fluid drawing, usually with ink and brush.


The art of creating a visual assemblage of different forms to make a new whole.

Conté crayon

A drawing medium made of compressed pigment - usually an earth tone - mixed with a wax or clay base. Square in cross-section and relatively hard, it allows for more precise marks than softer pastels.


The degree of tonal separation or gradation in a drawing.


Crisscrossing parallel lines to create tone. The closer the lines, the denser the tone. A good technique in linear media, such as pencil and pen.

Dip pen

An ink pen composed of a metal nib with capillary channels, mounted on a handle or holder, often made of wood. In contrast to a fountain pen, the dip pen has no internal ink reservoir.


Dry painting

A term sometimes used to describe drawing with pastels.


Art characterized by its focus on subjective feelings, and its use of symbolic colors and exaggerated imagery.


Liquid resin spray or atomizer used to glue and consolidate the loose surface produced when working with media such as pastel or charcoal.


The effect of perspective that makes forms appear to get smaller with distance, particularly noticeable in figure drawing, when it distorts the proportions of the body.


The act of applying a physical frame to a drawing to protect and enhance its presentation. Also, the introduction of elements into a drawing that set out areas of space within the composition.


An artistic movement of the early 20th century. Futurism glorified the technological progress, energy, and violence of modern society. Typical of the movement were dynamic compositions of superimposed and interlocking forms.


The depiction of the eyes of a subject, not just as pure form, but as an expression of the personality and mood.


A mixture of calcium carbonate, pigment, and an animal-derived glue - or now more commonly acrylic polymer medium - used to prime a drawing surface. Gesso produces a finely textured ground.

Gestural drawing

A style of drawing that explores the form and movement of an object in space. It may look realistic, but more often gestural drawings convey just a sense of overall form.


The carbon-clay mix used in pencils. Graphite sticks are pure graphite without the wooden casing.


The drawing surface, most often paper.


Repeated layered cross-hatching at various angles, used to build up dense shadow areas in a drawing.


The brightest area of illumination on a form, which appears on that part of the surface most perpendicular to the light source.


A 19th-century art movement with works characterized by a focus on light and space, and the use of unmixed primary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.

Incident light

The light falling upon an object, rather than that reflected from its surface.

India ink

Used for both writing and drawing, a type of ink that usually includes pigment mixed with a solvent and binder (traditionally shellac), which dries to a water-resistant permanent line.

Life drawing

Drawing a human figure from observations of a live model.


The fundamental element of a drawing: a line has length, width, tone, and texture. It may divide space, define a form or contour, or suggest a direction of motion.

Linear perspective

A method of portraying three dimensions on a flat surface by showing how parallel lines, for example of a road, appear to converge in the distance.


The drawing material, such as charcoal, pen, pencil, or pastel (media in the plural).

Mixed media

The use of more than one medium to create a drawing, for example, the combination of graphite and pastel.

Negative space

The gaps between objects, and between objects and the frame of the drawing. Negative space is as important as positive form in creating a harmonious composition.

One-point perpective

In linear perspective, parallel lines are at right angles to the picture plane and meet at a vanishing point on the horizon.


A color drawing medium in which powdered pigments are bound with gum or another binding agent into sticks. Soft pastels, also called chalk pastels, are powdery. Conté crayons are harder. Both come in pencil form. Oil pastels are sticky, and closer to painting media. A drawing made with pastels is called a pastel.


A drawing made in perspective looks like a vision of the real three-dimensional world through the use of modeling, linear perspective, and color.

Positive shape

The outline created by an object in a drawing.

Prepared paper

A sheet of paper that has been prepared by coating with gesso, another pigment, or a textured ground.


The use of a projector, which may be a slide, overhead, or digital projector, to enlarge an image on to a wall or easel. The projected image is then used as the basis for the drawing, providing tonal, color, and perspectival guidelines.


The accurate relationship of part to part in a realistic drawing. Also relates to a sense of balance.

Recessive color

A cool color, such as blue or green, that appears to pull a drawn surface away from the viewer's eye.


The use of a solvent, often but not always water, to free pigment from drawn marks. Release of the pigment creates the effect of a wash around the harder drawn lines.


A drawing that sets out to achieve a near-likeness of the objects being drawn. Drawings that strive to achieve the qualities of realism.


The darkness cast when light is obscured, either on an object, or by it.


A drawing made up of an outline of an object or figure, especially the human profile, filled in with solid color.


A template made by cutting out a design from stiff cardboard. Pigment is applied through or around the cut areas of a template so that the pattern will be reproduced on the ground below.

Still life

A representation of inanimate objects, whether natural or synthetic.


The actual or suggested surface quality of a drawing. Texture can be created by using skillful drawing techniques, erasing, rubbing, or employing specific materials.


From white to black, how light or dark something is, regardless of its color. Some colors are inherently light or dark in tone: yellow, for example, is always light.


The raised grain of textured paper, which bites into the medium applied to it. Powdery media, such as charcoal or soft pastel, need paper with a tooth to stick to the surface.

Two-point perspective

In linear perspective, an object such as a building has vertical edges parallel to the picture plane, but its sides are seen as angles. The horizontal lines of the sides appear to converge at two separate vanishing points on the horizon.


A preliminary drawing, often in faint charcoal or pencil, in which the outlines of the composition are sketched in preparation for detailed work over the top. This work may be carried out using different media.

Vanishing point

In linear perspective, the point where receding parallel lines appear to converge.


A drawing in which the tones fade gradually away until they blend with the surface. Also used to describe a small decorative drawing.


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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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