Want to improve your drawing skills? Feeling stagnant in your style and keen to try something new?

Experimenting with different drawing styles is a fantastic way to hone your skills, improve your ability to capture imaginative imagery, and develop your unique style.

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There are many different drawing styles to play with, but we've compiled a list of epic drawing styles for you to explore and try out.

A note on style

From Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th century to Pablo Picasso in the 20th century, how artists express themselves arises from many influencing factors, such as:

  • Skills
  • Technology
  • Availability of materials
  • Stylistic preferences
  • Audience
  • Creative brief
  • Cultural background
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Networks of influence
  • Financial support

The amount of time you put into your drawings also greatly impacts the quality of your creative work. Think of the difference between a one-minute sketch and a one-hour drawing.

Regarding our taste in art, we all have an innate knowledge of what we love and dislike. When roaming an art gallery, we know the pieces that challenge us. These are the types of artworks or designs we tend to stare at the longest.

We may not necessarily like them, but they capture our attention and get us thinking.

Finding the drawing styles you love takes exploration and practice. It’s also influenced by the medium you're working with. The art mediums you can use to draw are almost limitless—you can draw anywhere with anything.

In ancient times, people used natural materials like minerals and blood to draw on cave walls.

People have produced incredible artworks using sand, pavements, and even a digital drawing process created with actual food.

The most common drawing mediums are:

  • Pencil drawing (graphite, watercolor pencils, or colored pencils)
  • Ink drawing
  • Pen drawing
  • Chalk drawing
  • Crayon drawing
  • Digital tools, such as tablets and software like Linearity Curve (formerly Vectornator)
  • Charcoal drawing

If there are particular mediums you love to use, you may choose to experiment with specific types of drawing based on those. Some drawing media are suited to particular drawing styles.

For example, crayons might not be the best choice for hyperrealism. And if you're going for something that requires a fine point, like stippling, then messy charcoal might not be the most ideal.

You also need to consider the appropriateness of certain mediums for your drawing surface. To produce detailed drawings, you need smooth paper or other smooth surfaces. A textured paper or rough surface will make it more difficult to capture minute details.

One particular style may interest you more. You'll adapt your favorite medium to work with it. It's possible to achieve hyperrealism with watercolor or to create a charcoal effect with pencil drawing.

Industry experts consciously try to keep creativity alive by drawing. Drawing is an art and a technical skill. And some drawing styles are more technical than others.

Learning the technical side of the drawing styles you enjoy most will also help improve your design skills and artistic abilities.

This is because drawing teaches you to focus on detail, precision, and understanding what it takes to create beautiful works of art and design.

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Within each drawing style, there are many different possibilities to express that style.

We've listed 21 drawing styles that will expand your artistic and technical abilities. See what inspires you, from basic styles such as doodling and continuous line drawing to complex hyperrealism and 3D illusions.

1. Doodling

This is where it all starts for most of us.

Doodling is an informal drawing style, usually created absent-mindedly (for instance, to keep yourself entertained in class). This could include a rough rendition of objects, small sketches of ideas, stray marks, and other intuitive elements. What you can do with doodling is limitless.

It's not so much a particular technique as it is a simplistic way of expressing thoughts and feelings.

Everything, from drawing a simple shape over and over to creating characters that spring to life off the page, can be considered doodling.

Many great works of art begin as simple doodles and develop into full-blown drawings. And many people discover their love for drawing by doodling as children.

This drawing style doesn't have to be treated as an abstract form of drawing, only meant for scribbles. Some designers carve out their unique drawing style around the informal aesthetic of doodles.

A doodle's simple or unfinished look can be pleasing to look at and work well for certain brands. The doodle freehand drawing style is especially trendy for internet-based companies and SaaS startups.

Doodle whenever you have a moment. It's good practice for your drawing skills and will help keep your creative juices flowing.

2. Photorealism

This drawing style takes serious skill and patience. Are you up for the challenge?

You may be inspired by artists who can portray high levels of realism in their drawings and wish to do the same yourself.

All it takes is practice and dedication. Talent plays a role in drawing, but practice and skill-sharpening lead to results. You also need perseverance because you probably won't get it right the first time.

Drawing in a realistic style often requires a lot of preparatory sketches and erasing sections you've drawn to improve on them.

Realistic drawing sharpens your eye and improves design skills across all areas. It helps you get faster at producing more accurate simple drawings, too.

3. Hyperrealism

As a contemporary advancement of the photorealistic drawing style, hyperrealism strives to be "more real than reality." Because hyperrealistic drawings are so extremely detailed, you may struggle to discern the medium used.

This drawing style is perfect for you to indulge in if you're interested in drawing portraits, as you'll learn to capture facial features in incredible detail. This often results in stunning, emotion-stirring portraits.

You also need to consider that it'll take a long time to complete hyperrealistic drawings, and you'll need to focus intently on minute details.

To keep yourself from getting discouraged, make sure you set aside ample time for drawing and take frequent breaks to refresh your mind.

4. Cartoon style

Cartoon characters by Anjum Shorna
Image source: Anjum Shorna

Cartoons are a more stylized approach to drawing, and many other styles exist within this style.

You could explore caricature drawing, cartoon strip, or comic book style or invent your own cartoon drawing style.

What really defines the cartoon drawing style? It's usually a simplified, non-realistic way of drawing, often with exaggerated features. What we love about cartooning is that you can make characters look like and do anything.

Superheroes with huge muscles and bionic arms, babies with psychic powers, animals that wear clothes and can talk, cars and clothing that don't exist, out-of-this-world destinations—the possibilities are endless.

While cartoon-style drawings work equally well to create a cute and whimsical feeling, they don't need to be childlike at all.

You have the creative license to be really imaginative. Many professionals have successfully used this style in marketing, advertising, and entertainment.

5. Line drawing

Minimalist female portrait line drawing by Anna Klets
Image Source: Anna Klets on Behance

Line drawing has become very popular in recent years, frequently appearing on social media and online editorial design, as well as cosmetic brands, t-shirts, and tote bags.

Basic line drawing is aesthetically pleasing and creates simple and elegant visual content. It can also be an understated decorative element in your home or office.

This technique is particularly satisfying for beginners, as line drawings are quick and uncomplicated to create. It's also fun to turn a photograph or complex image into something simpler by using a line drawing to trace over it.

Sketch of two people dancing

While you don't need to be a trained artist or designer to be able to make beautiful line drawings, there's still a fair amount of practice that goes into making elegant lines.

Picasso created some of his most famous drawings using only a few well-placed observed lines.

You can also challenge your skills by applying the technique used in this beautiful line portrait, where you create an entire image from one continuous line (known as continuous line drawing). The end result looks simple, but the technique is challenging.

6. Architectural drawing

Illustrating architecture can challenge your drawing skills and three-dimensional perception.

While architects learn to hone this skill to a highly technical level, drawing beautiful pieces of architecture is great for artists to learn about detail, volume, perspective, and precision.

You can copy photographs of beautiful buildings or draw them from real life if you can access a visually interesting view. You can also draw architectural pieces from your imagination (but this is a bit more difficult).

Committing yourself to learn more about architecture and its drawing methods can be an incredibly enriching experience.

Not only will you gain valuable technical skills, but you'll also develop a keen eye for great architecture and an appreciation of its beauty.

7. Fashion illustration

Fashion illustration 1920s
Image source: McGill Library

This drawing style is highly practical and developed within the fashion industry. Fashion designers developed drawing methods to quickly capture the essence of a garment through gestural drawings.

Fashion illustrations often depict elongated figures resembling models, with minimal focus on anatomical features. Each drawing serves to emphasize the clothing, but the drawn model also depicts attitudes and trends.

There are as many styles of fashion illustration as designers, each varying in their level of refinement.

To create functional and sophisticated fashion drawings, you can study various postures and poses. Push yourself to depict attitudes and movement as accurately as possible using only a few light lines.

You'll be surprised how much it'll help you bring designs to life, such as flat character designs and storyboarding ideation.

8. Cross-contour drawing

Framley Parsonage - Was it not a Lie? by John Everett Millais, 1860. Image source: Birmingham Museums Trust
Framley Parsonage - Was it not a Lie? by John Everett Millais, 1860. Image source: Birmingham Museums Trust

Using curving horizontal and vertical lines, you can easily create the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional sheet of paper. Cross-contour drawing is a popular and long-established drawing exercise taught at most AP drawing art schools.

But it’s also a style in its own right. But it's not as simple as it looks.

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To master this drawing style and reap the benefits, it's easiest to draw the outlines of the subject first. You can choose something basic such as an apple (the most common subject used to learn the principle), a tree branch, or an animal.

Once done, imagine the surface of your subject covered with a wire frame.

The goal is to build a three-dimensional view simply by combining curved lines to create the illusion of depth, rather than using any of our usual shading tricks. Remember that the space between contours won’t be the same everywhere–it depends on the perspective.

9. Quick sketches

Sketching is an essential practice for anyone wanting to improve their observation skills.

The goal is to draw something fast, often much faster than you’re used to, capturing the most important features. Depending on the subject, drawing a quick sketch should take a few seconds or a couple of minutes.

If you practice sketching regularly, you’ll soon realize that you're more able to put down fleeting moments in your sketchbook. This could be a passerby on the street or animals at the park.

The more you improve your drawing speed, the more accurately you'll be able to capture and immortalize the world around you.

10. Minimalist drawing

Recognizing a subject's most important features is a crucial skill. It enables the artist to convey meaning through a simplified drawing. This kind of visual communication is limited only by your skill and the materials available.

Think of cave paintings (or drawings): they were the first ever minimalist renderings of ancient everyday lives, representing people, animals, and objects with a few shapes and colors.

Today, we don't have as many limitations as in ancient times. There are more types of drawing materials, more pigments and colors, and mobile drawing surfaces—even digital ones, such as iPads. Artworks have become increasingly technical and complex.

And yet, minimalism is making a comeback. Why?

Because sometimes it takes more skill to know what to leave out than to keep adding more. A minimalistic drawing approach means homing in on the subject and not being afraid to leverage white space for a big visual impact.

11. Caricature drawing

A caricature drawing implements another one of those techniques that sound simple but really aren’t. This art form aims to render your subject simplistically and exaggerate its distinctive features.

For some drawing subjects, a large nose will be rendered as a huge one, or slightly protruding ears will stick out prominently in the drawing. When drawing caricatures, selecting features to exaggerate can be a little difficult.

Very smooth and symmetrical faces are especially difficult to render, but there’s always something unique to each person that can be accentuated.

Practicing caricatures will help you understand the essence of your subject better and see what distinguishes them.

It can be a lot of fun, too. You can use this knowledge to go overboard with it, delighting and entertaining your patrons.

To learn the caricature drawing concept, it often helps to start with a more truthful drawing instrument of your subject in very thin lines. Then, you can enhance, reduce, or move features around as needed to produce a funny drawing.

12. 3D drawing

There’s realistic drawing, and then there’s 3D drawing. Who doesn’t love an occasional optical illusion to trick the eye and amuse the mind?

Perspective drawing to create depth has been employed and developed since the Roman Empire times and was used in abundance during the Renaissance.

You can use perspective drawing principles to make your images seemingly move off the flat drawing surface into a three-dimensional form. All of it is an illusion, of course.

While the most popular works usually include complex subjects and colors, you can practice 3D drawing quite easily using simple shapes in pencil only.

13. Geometric drawing

There's so much variety under the umbrella of geometric drawing. You can create stunning portraits compiled of abstract geometric shapes and clean lines. This drawing style is always fascinating to look at.

Start practicing your geometric drawing skills by drawing simple shapes and seeing how you can combine them to form recognizable features, such as people, animals, and objects.

You can also try experimenting with geometric patterns to create seamless backgrounds. The possibilities for the art you can create with this style are endless because everything we see can be boiled down to geometry.

Even trained artists and animators learn to see shapes in everyday objects and people to make it easier to translate these to paper.

Designers need to be able to break things down into geometric shapes to capture and build both the real and the imaginary. Logo design also often relies on geometry to produce elegant, impactful branding.

14. Tattoo drawing

The first thing tattoo artists learn to do before picking up a tattoo gun is to draw.

And they draw a lot. Tattoo apprenticeships last about six months, and aspiring tattoo artists spend all that time perfecting their art before permanently etching them into someone's skin.

Every tattoo starts as a drawing, becoming a stencil before it's transferred onto the skin and permanently tattooed.

There are many different tattoo styles. If you're interested in becoming a tattoo artist or just enjoy drawing in this style, start following tattoo artists that inspire you and draw the types of tattoos you love.

Developing an authentic style of your own or creating a niche in a particular subject matter or group of clients is important. These practices can significantly advance your tattoo drawing skills.

15. Typography drawing

Whether you're a professional graphic designer regularly working with fonts or just love playing around with typography as a creative, typography design is a fascinating area of expertise.

Typography drawing could involve anything from drawing scenes inside letters, such as the example above, or creating an image out of wording, as shown in the image below. It's up to you to get creative and have fun playing with lettering.

Trying some calligraphy drawing might also be a worthwhile technique for learning about the world of lettering, mastering the medium of ink, and honing your precision skills.

Digital technology makes typography art especially easy to create using fonts and software tools creatively. Check out our floral typography tutorial to start experimenting with this drawing style.

16. Stippling

Stippling was first created during the Renaissance era by an artist named Giulio Campangola. He used it for printmaking to give prints of one color more depth. Stippling involves creating a drawing from many small dots.

The dots are grouped together to create images. Shading and gradients are created by placing the dots closer together or spreading them out. You can get incredibly detailed with stippling, which also teaches you to be conscious of shading.

Stippling might get confused with Pointillism. The difference is that stippling is a drawing style, usually done in one color, whereas Pointillism is a post-Impressionist movement in painting. It involves dotting a variety of hues that combine optically to give the appearance of colors, shades, and tints.

Use a ballpoint pen or sharp pencil for stippling, as you must create very fine dots to avoid losing detail.

17. Hatching and cross-hatching

This popular drawing technique is used to create depth, gradient, and texture without blending. Hatching involves filling in an image with closely-drawn parallel lines. Unlike the curved lines used in cross-contour drawing, these lines are usually linear.

Cross-hatching is almost the same, except the lines intersect and cross one another. Cross-hatching can come across as more aggressive and messy, so note how it could affect the mood in your drawing.

To create a sense of depth and volume, place your hatching and cross-hatching lines closer or further apart.

18. Scumbling

Like stippling and hatching, scumbling is a freehand drawing technique used to cover large surface areas with marks. Scumbling is often used for areas where you want to suggest detail rather than explicitly outline every detail.

You can also achieve scumbling by rubbing, smudging, or lightly dragging your pencil across the drawing surface rather than using solid lines. This can be used to create gradient effects, textures, or soft shadows.

To apply this technique, you can use numerous small circles, star shapes, or figures of eight to develop sophisticated textures.

Scumbling is especially effective for creating highly expressive drawings that break the mold of traditional art.

19. Scribble art

While scribble art and doodling involve spontaneous and often unstructured marks, there is a key distinction between the two drawing styles.

Doodling is often seen as a spontaneous and subconscious form of drawing, typically done while your attention is otherwise engaged, such as during a phone call or a meeting.

Doodles can range from abstract shapes or patterns to more representational designs, but they're typically not planned out or designed with a specific outcome or message in mind.

Scribble art is a deliberate technique used to create a specific artistic result. Scribbles are used to form shapes, textures, and shading that build up to create a recognizable image or abstract design.

Despite the technique's seemingly chaotic nature, it requires conscious effort and control on the artist's part.

This drawing style is defined using free-form lines, often rapidly or randomly applied, to build texture, shape, and form. Though it may seem haphazard, scribble art can be quite detailed and precise.

Scribbles can create an incredible sense of depth, movement, and energy. It's often seen in Expressionist Art and contemporary Street Art.

In scribble art, you typically use repetitive circular motions, zigzags, or other patterns with a drawing medium, layering them to create darker and lighter areas of the drawing.

Some well-known artists who used scribbling in their work include Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh, Abstract Expressionist Cy Twombly, mid-century Conceptual Artist Sol LeWitt, and Street Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

These artists show that while scribbling may appear to be a simple technique, it can be used to create complex and powerful works of art.

20. Diagrammatic drawing

A diagrammatic drawing is a type of technical drawing that explains how something works—as you might assume from the word “diagram.” You can create a diagrammatic drawing of anything from a human or animal to interior design plans and exploded views of objects.

The diagrammatic drawing style is important for designers to master because it enables us to communicate ideas visually.

Diagrammatic drawing is good practice for developing your observational skills. It also helps you plot ideas from your imagination, for instance, when creating imaginary worlds or designing new products.

21. Anamorphic drawing

This drawing style teaches you how to create depth by drawing a 3D illusion with a 2D drawing. Anamorphic drawing varies from simple shapes that create the 3D illusion to complex drawings that look like they protrude from the drawing surface.

Anamorphosis is a perspective technique that uses distortion to portray an illusion that is only observable from a specific vantage point.

The image might look distorted and chaotic from most vantage points, but when viewed from the intended perspective, it comes to life as an amazing 3D image.

This incredibly technical drawing style takes time to master, but you can start with the simpler 3D drawing style we discussed earlier.

Tips on how to draw better instantly

Most creatives and designers, whether just starting out or seasoned experts, want to know how to draw better. You have good drawing ideas, but you also need technical skills to help you improve long-term.

We’ve pulled together some exercises recommended by artists that'll help you improve your technique. Armed with these drawing techniques, take some time to practice them and continue to improve.

Drawing tip #1: keep a daily sketchbook

Whether you use your daily practice as a therapeutic measure or an outlet for your creative energy, you'll find that your drawing skills and idea generation will improve when you put pen (or pencil) to paper.

If you're still new to drawing, sketching regularly is a great way to hone your skills. And while sketching ideas for new artists isn't always easy, an effective way to come up with good drawing ideas is to start with your immediate surroundings—people, places, objects, or views.

Drawing tip #2: use perspective to make drawings more realistic

Especially if you’re trying to improve your realistic drawing skills, you’re probably familiar with using perspective. Perspective is simply the angle from which you view and draw a subject.

For example, if you're sitting on a park bench across from a fountain, your drawing will illustrate it from that angle: with a large fountain front and center, and the people and objects behind it much smaller.

Perspective can be one of the toughest skills to master, and it’s helpful to engage in exercises that'll help you improve your grasp of perspective. Once you do, drawing and painting more realistic images from your imagination will be easier.

Drawing tip #3: improve your proportioning

Much like using perspective, correct proportions help make your drawings more realistic.

Proportion is the relationship between height, width, and depth. It helps scale the people, animals, and objects in your drawings.

The grid method is a helpful tool for practicing proportions. If you’re looking for a simple exercise to begin working with grids, start with an image you want to draw. Have the following tools handy: a ruler, your favorite graphite pencil, and an eraser.

Then, draw vertical and horizontal lines across your image to mimic the look of traditional graph paper. One inch wide by one inch wide is a common measurement for the grid boxes.

Once your grid is established, label the rows and columns with numbers (horizontally) and letters (vertically). Next, replicate the grid pattern on a piece of blank drawing paper, which becomes your drawing grid.

Lay it next to the original image, side-by-side. Then get drawing.

Drawing tip #4: perfect working with shapes

Shapes are some of the first things people are taught to draw as young artists. As you continue developing your artistic skills, they take on a whole new value within your work.

Shapes are important to practice drawing because they can help you communicate designs better. Shapes also help you develop intricate patterns and fill space within abstract pieces. But first, you need to master them.

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Shape exercises are simple yet effective techniques that can improve your drawing abilities. Shape exercises challenge you to examine photographs and drawings and identify the basic shapes that make up their foundations.

Once you train yourself to see and sketch key elements of complex works of art, you’ll better understand how images come together.

Drawing tip #5: use stick figures

Though it sounds somewhat basic to draw stick figures, they’re an exceptional tool for improving your anatomical drawings.

Stick figures provide the basis for our line figure drawings. When we begin with a simple subject we’re familiar with and are capable of drawing, it’s easy to turn these basic figures into more complex, accurate drawings.

Even experienced artists use stick figures in their work.

Stick figures can also be a great starting point for quickly sketching ideas without wasting time on details.

Drawing tip #6: spend the week improving your drawing

Improving your drawing skills takes time and commitment. Why not plan a 'drawing week' to see what you can accomplish in five or seven days?

Another fun add-on to your drawing improvement week is cataloging your art. Keeping a file of the pieces you create allows you to study your drawings more closely and measure your progress.

Pick up file folders, a cabinet, or a storage bin, and organize your drawings in folders by type, date, or by any other system that works best for you.

Go back every few months and review your catalog and work. Take notes in your notebook and evaluate your strengths, areas of improvement, and overall progress. Your catalog and drawing board will allow you to be closely connected to your art, which will help evolve your drawing skills.

The more often you pick up your pen or pencil to practice various drawing styles, the faster you progress. Apply these exercises, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your skills and communicating your ideas with drawing.

Drawing tip #7: mastering light and shadow

Understanding how light and shadow work is essential for creating a sense of depth and three-dimensionality in your drawings.

Start by observing objects in different lighting conditions and note where the light hits the object (highlight), where the object blocks the light (shadow), and the transition between light and shadow (mid-tones).

Draw simple shapes like spheres, cylinders, and cubes under a single light source, focusing on how the light and shadow fall on the object.

Drawing tip #8: practice line quality

Line quality can greatly affect the look and feel of your drawing. Thick lines can denote weight and provide emphasis, while thin lines can suggest delicacy or distance.

Varied lines within a drawing create a more dynamic image.

Practice creating a range of line types by adjusting the pressure of your pencil on the page, using different types of pencils (HB, 2B, 4B, etc.), or trying out different drawing tools (like charcoal, pen, or pastel).

Drawing tip #9: mixing techniques

Don't limit yourself to one drawing technique. Experiment using hatching, stippling, scumbling, photorealism, and more in the same drawing.

Different techniques can add texture and depth to your drawings. Trying different methods expands your skill set and inspires you to think creatively about approaching your next drawing subject.

Drawing tip #10: learn from others

Studying the works of other artists can give you invaluable insights into different styles and techniques.

Visit art museums, browse art books or galleries online, and try to replicate pieces you admire.

Doing so will give you an in-depth understanding of the art of drawing and how well-known artists achieve their final results.

Drawing tip #11: take breaks and step back

Sometimes when you're drawing, you can get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the overall picture. Every so often, take a step back from your work or even take a break entirely.

When you return to your drawing, you'll have a fresh perspective and be more likely to notice if something looks off.

Drawing tip #12: embrace mistakes

Mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. Don't be discouraged if your drawing doesn't turn out as envisioned. Instead, analyze what you don't like about it and how you can improve.

Remember that every artist, no matter how experienced, still makes mistakes.

What's important is that you learn from them and continue to improve. Practice and patience are key when it comes to improving your drawing skills.

Take your drawing to the next level

Drawing is one of the most accessible and enriching artistic forms you can discover. With so many approaches to rendering the world around us on two-dimensional surfaces, there's so much you can learn to enhance your creative flow.

Even if you've excelled in the craft of drawing, you can always improve by experimenting with new styles and advanced technology. Different drawing styles will resonate with different audiences, and you may discover a new approach to inspire you.

If you're looking for more drawing inspiration and exercises, check out our list of 100+ drawing ideas for any skill level.

As you've learned in this article, there are many different approaches to drawing to keep exploring new avenues of expression and ideation for the rest of your life.

All of these techniques can also be explored using digital drawing tools, such as Linearity Curve’s (formerly Vectornator) easy-to-use Pencil Tool.

The Pencil Tool empowers you to turn any drawing mark into a vector shape or line that you can edit to your heart's content. Stretch, color, add gradients, copy-paste, and more on your Mac or iPad.

Want to try Linearity Curve for digital drawing and design? Download it today to get started.

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11 Drawing Styles for Creatives by Vectornator
Drawing Styles for Creatives by Vectornator