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Sketching Drawing – What is the difference?

I read recently that the difference between sketching and drawing was that sketching was more freehand and drawing was like using a ruler to produce architectural renditions. To quote Declan “Dec” Donnelly (of ‘Ant & Dec’ fame) on the 2009 ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ show, when Simon Cowell said he knew Susan Boyle was going to be good: “What a load of tosh!


Sketching Drawing – The 3 main differences

1. Sketching is usually looser and freer

When people sketch it is usually to produce a quick rendition of a scene. This is often done because the scene isn’t static, such as a café scene with people coming and going. This type of fluid, constantly changing situation, lends itself to a rapid approach to drawing we refer to as sketching. In this type of sketching the objective is to get on paper the main forms and lines of the scene. These lines and forms are often simple but beautiful in their very simplicity. This form of rapid drawing is akin to pure perception drawing and requires a skilled eye and a quick interpretation of the fluidity of the changing scene.

The ‘looseness’ of the lines in such sketches and the purity of line and form that skilled artists can achieve often instils a great energy into the finished piece.

2. Sketching used for reference

Many artists use quick sketches to explore the various qualities and forms of a scene for later use as reference material for a more in-depth drawing or painting. These quick sketches can be as simple or as detailed as the artist requires but they are usually not considered finished pieces in their own right; although once an artist has been made ‘famous’ such sketches often become valuable. Sketch books are a popular method of collecting these types of reference sketches.

3. Drawings and details

A drawing is usually considered to be more of a finished piece than a sketch. This generally means that a drawing will contain more visual information by way of detail and tonal rendition than a sketch. However, this is where the line often becomes blurred; at what point does a sketch become a drawing?

Drawings are also usually complete statements of a scene or subject compared to the fleeting nature of many sketches. Since drawings of fluid scenes, such as the café scenario previously mentioned, are not really practical the final drawing of such a scene will often be done away from the scene i.e. back at the artists studio, using sketches as reference.

The definition of a drawing definitely does not mean they are done with a ruler! Sure, purely architectural technical renditions are produced that way, but a drawing, whether of architecture or not is generally done freehand to produce the sensitivity and feeling the artist wishes to express. Pure architectural rendering rarely exhibit artistic passion!

About the Author:
Find out more about how you can easily learn the skills needed to draw with me: Sketching Drawing – What is the difference.
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