A sketch is a rapidly executed freehand drawing that is not usually intended as a finished work. A sketch may serve a number of purposes: it might record something that the artist sees, it might record or develop an idea for later use or it might be used as a quick way of graphically demonstrating an image, idea or principle.
Sketches can be made in any drawing medium. The term is most often applied to graphic work executed in a dry medium such as silverpoint, graphite, pencil, charcoal or pastel. But it may also apply to drawings executed in pen and ink, ballpoint pen, water colour and oil paint. The latter two are generally referred to as “water colour sketches” and “oil sketches”. A sculptor might model three-dimensional sketches in clay, plasticize or wax.
Drawing is one of the major forms of expression within the visual arts. It is generally concerned with the marking of lines and areas of tone onto paper, where the accurate representation of the visual world is expressed upon a plane surface. Drawing is a gateway to endless possibility—especially when it comes to expression.
Traditional drawings were monochrome, or at least had little colour, while modern colored-pencil drawings may approach or cross a boundary between drawing and painting. In Western terminology, drawing is distinct from painting, even though similar media often are employed in both tasks. Dry media, normally associated with drawing, such as chalk, may be used in pastel paintings. Drawing may be done with a liquid medium, applied with brushes or pens. Similar supports likewise can serve both: painting generally involves the application of liquid paint onto prepared canvas or panels, but sometimes an under drawing is drawn first on that same support.
Drawing is often exploratory, with considerable emphasis on observation, problem-solving and composition. Drawing is also regularly used in preparation for a painting, further obfuscating their distinction. Drawings created for these purposes are called studies.
There are several categories of drawing, including figure drawing, cartooning, doodling and shading. There are also many drawing methods, such as line drawing, stippling, shading, the surrealist method of entopic graphomania (in which dots are made at the sites of impurities in a blank sheet of paper, and lines are then made between the dots), and tracing (drawing on a translucent paper, such as tracing paper, around the outline of preexisting shapes that show through the paper).
A quick, unrefined drawing may be called a sketch.
In fields outside art, technical drawings or plans of buildings, machinery, circuitry and other things are often called “drawings” even when they have been transferred to another medium by printing.
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