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Identifying Drawings

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How can you tell if a picture is a drawing?

The easiest way to identify a drawing is to look for lines made with a pencil, pen, or crayon, rather than with paint. A drawing will often be monochrome - executed in different shades of a single colour.

Also consider how the drawing is framed, and the material the drawing is created on.

Drawings are normally framed under glass to protect the artwork from moisture and dirt, and are usually created on material such as paper or card, like watercolours.

While paintings are composed of areas of colour, drawings are composed almost entirely of lines.

Often much of the underlying paper shows through, as it is only sparsely covered with pencil, crayon or ink.

Drawings range from highly detailed and acutely observed finished works, to simple sketches which are often used by artists as references for later, more sophisticated works. Sketches are considered 'studies', but do have artistic merit in their own right.

Drawings can be executed quickly, without the need to mix or dilute paint, or to clean up afterwards. No drying time is involved, although drawings using pastel will remain delicate and easily smudged.

When the whole surface of the paper is covered with pastel, it's normally called a pastel painting, rather than a pastel drawing.

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Identifying Oil Paintings | Identifying Watercolours | Identifying Drawings | Identifying Prints

Note: this information is only intended as basic advice, and not as a definitive guide to identifying different types of pictures.