Drawing is classed as a form of art which involves the artist making marks on a surface such as paper or card.

While visual arts are now easily transformed into digital form using apps and software, the beauty of the visual arts for many is experiencing that connection between tool/medium and material. It is for this reason that the art of drawing lives on.

That said, advanced tech can almost replicate that feeling of drawing or painting, with laptops now featuring digital notepads and apps responding to the touch of paintbrushes specifically designed for use on screens.

If you are invested in drawing for a living, then the impact of technology on art might actually be an amazing breakthrough for you. However, you may feel that it is an invasion on the world of art. Furthermore, digital art could be a useful tool to help beginners to figure out their drawing style and preferred medium(s), by looking at their on-screen appearance.

But can an artist advocate the use of digital media? The answer is yes! Any artist, whether a hobbyist or a professional, should have a wealth of experience in a range of different mediums, but, mostly their chosen field.

This means that if you have learnt to draw on computers and you are good at it, then that is your medium so you should stick to it. Just because you use a different tool does not mean you are any less of an artist.

In the past, illustrators were loyal to a particular style or technique. Many book illustrators, for example, would generally work with solely pencils, pastels, chalks or charcoal. However, as times and trends have evolved, artists have become more confident and brave and are often using mixed mediums to create their works of art.

While it is possible to manipulate most tools and techniques in a variety of ways to create unique styles, the combination of different mediums allows even more scope to create noteworthy results, mixing texture, colour and even scale.

Check out different drawing tutorial techniques.

Using Graphite Pencils, Crayons And Colouring Pencils

Colouring pencils, more so Crayola crayons, are often associated with toddlers or school-aged children but, interestingly, the tools are used by many successful illustrators. All you need to do is search for the #‘pencilart’ or similar on Instagram in order to see some truly stunning images of artwork created with the modest medium.


Pencils are one of the cheapest tools you can buy but can offer you a great medium to work with.
Using just one simple medium, you can create light and shadows and create something quite beautiful. Photo credit: Arturo Espinosa on Visualhunt

Furthermore, crayons are a popular choice for illustrators of children’s books, along with oil pastels, due to the soft appearance of their application.

Designers and architects also consider wax crayons as their friends as they are so easy to use and add a touch of colour and texture to any sketch or design.

Graphite pencils, meanwhile, come in a range of colours but are more often than not used simply for their thick and fast application. As with normal pencils, graphite pencils also come in a range of sizes to suit all scales of work and people’s preferences.

The main draw of graphite pencils is the smoothness they offer and the ability to easily create 3D objects using gradient, or light and shade.

Sketching using graphite pencils offers a great deal of flexibility and it is a particularly good choice for those doing rough, timed sketches (like life drawing, for example).

Why Learn To Draw With Pencils Or Charcoal?

Above all, one of the biggest plus to using tools such as crayons and pencils is the low cost.

Most grocery stores will stock a range of art supplies, with colouring pencils and crayons included. Some of the larger superstores may even offer graphite pencils as well as a larger selection of paints and pastels.

In addition, the nature of these materials means that they can be used on equally inexpensive surfaces like ordinary white paper (again, most shops will stock packs of printing paper that are perfectly suitable for a lot of these mediums). This means that there is no need to go out and buy special textured paper or card, and can therefore keep your costs down. This is particularly useful if you are already paying for a drawing tutor or are taking part in drawing classes.

With both accessibility and cost at a low, these are the perfect mediums for beginners or for those turning to art as simply a pastime or hobby.

Experimenting With Dry Art Mediums

Charcoal is a dry art technique often made from natural or organic resources like wood. Just like graphite, charcoal can be used on a smooth surface however for best results, charcoal should be applied onto textured paper.

Charcoal offers a beautifully textured appearance so is best used by fine artists rather than designers working with smooth and precise lines. However, architects have been known to use the material at times to plan or to bring their drawings to life, as charcoal creates broken strokes which can represent a sense of movement.


Charcoal is a medium used at many life drawing classes.
Charcoal is a great medium for life drawing as it is one that is often used to create quick sketches. Photo credit: Frédéric Glorieux on VisualHunt.com

Canson Mi-Teintes, Canson Ingres, Strathmore 500 Series and Fabriano Tiziano are popular choices of artists’ charcoal, while other good pencil forms are Faber-Castell Pitt, Grumbacher, Winsor & Newton, Derwent and Coates.

What Is Charcoal Best Used For?

Again, just like graphite pencils (which offer a similar final appearance), charcoal sticks are great when drawing large and fast pictures.

Many artists taking part in life drawing classes choose to use this as a medium as they can use the powdery, textured finish to reproduce the appearance of curves, shape and subtle movements. As an organic material, charcoal is particularly well suited to creating images portraying nature.

One thing to remember is that, as its name suggests, charcoal is a simple and monotone material. Yet, it can still be used to produce some fantastic pieces of work. Impressive drawings have been created by artists all over the world displaying landscapes and portraits in both traditional and contemporary styles.

If you want to see just how far the medium can be manipulated, search for '3D charcoal drawings' in your Internet toolbar to find clever images that jump out at you.

You wouldn’t have believed it possible to create such life-like drawings with just your hand and a piece of charcoal!

Did you know that you can use cotton buds or the tip of your finger to smudge/blend charcoal after application? Be sure if you use your fingers to wash them after so as not to leave black fingerprints all over your artwork!

Creating Colour With Chalks, Conte And Pastels

Chalks and oil pastels are the perfect mediums for creating colourful yet soft illustrations, with the first offering the paler outcome of the two.

You may be used to the idea of using chalk on a blackboard, but such materials are really inconvenient for artists as they only offer a temporary surface. Instead, try applying chalks to coloured paper adapted for chalks or pastels (or any paper with a slightly textured surface).

The beauty of chalk is that you can either apply the technique straight onto the paper or you can scrape some of the pigment onto a piece of scrap paper and use the powdery substance as a new tool, with each offering very different finishes.

Chalks often come in a slim format but jumbo chalks are also available and are sometimes better for artists as they aren’t as prone to breaking.


Oil pastels never fully dry so can still be blended long after application.
Oil pastels can be blended to create beautiful colour combinations. Photo credit: SWARM GALLERY OAKLAND on Visualhunt.com

Conte crayons have been used by some of the worlds most renowned artists like Picasso, Degas and Delacroix, which shows how long they have been used in art.

The colourful tool is made up of a blend of clay, graphite and natural pigment which means that it responds in a similar way to a graphite pencil but with stronger colour.

Being thinner and harder than other pastels, they are well-suited to works requiring more precision, like detailed sketches.

Oil pastels are the primary choice of medium for children’s picture book illustrator Lynne Chapman, who creates truly stunning images designed for young readers. Not only are her pieces high in energy, they are also of a supreme quality and are explosive in colour.

Oil pastels allow the artist a great deal of flexibility thanks to their oily substance which never fully dries (unless locked in place with spray). This means that the medium remains soft and therefore workable even after application.

Oil pastels can be used a drawing material but can also be used to paint with, with either method enabling you to build up beautiful, creamy layers of blended colour.

Playing Around With Pen On Paper

Last but not least, biro sketches are a fantastic way of learning to draw.

Many don't know that Fearne Cotton is a very talented artist as well as TV presenter and DJ, and she illustrated her recent book releases with various biro sketches. Her images, alone, can provide enough inspiration and reveal how easy it can be to create your ideas just by putting pen to paper.


You can even manipulate an ordinary pen in art by changing pressure.
Even using something as simple as a biro can create a work of art. Photo credit: joncandy on Visual hunt

By using pens in art, you are essentially using a medium that was designed to be written with, thus substituting the written word for a visual representation instead.

Unlike charcoal, pastels and graphite pencils though, pens have narrow nibs and don’t always flow as easily so you may need to adjust your drawing style to suit.

For instance, if you are using a marker pen or felt tip pen, you'll want to focus on the pressure you apply to create consistent or inconsistent lines and be careful not to allow ink to bleed on the paper from overuse.

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.