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Drawing is a form of visual art in which a person uses various drawing instruments to mark paper or another two-dimensional medium. A drawing instrument releases a small amount of material onto a surface, leaving a visible mark. The most common support for drawing is paper, although other materials, such as cardboard, plastic, leather, canvas, and board, may be used. In addition to its more artistic forms, drawing is frequently used in commercial illustration, animation, architecture, engineering and technical drawing. Madame Palmyre with Her Dog, 1897.
Drawing is one of the major forms of expression within the visual arts. There are several categories of drawing, including figure drawing, cartooning, doodling, and free hand. 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.
Throughout much of history, drawing was regarded as the foundation for artistic practise. Initially, artists used and reused wooden tablets for the production of their drawings. The invention of the first widely available form of photography led to a shift in the use of drawing in the arts. Photography took over from drawing as a superior method for accurately representing visual phenomena, and artists began to abandon traditional drawing practises. Before the widespread availability of paper, 12th-century monks in European monasteries used intricate drawings to prepare illustrated, illuminated manuscripts on vellum and parchment.
15th century, engravings began to be made into prints and later came to be used as book illustrations. The medium is the means by which ink, pigment or color are delivered onto the drawing surface. Paper comes in a variety of different sizes and qualities, ranging from newspaper grade up to high quality and relatively expensive paper sold as individual sheets. Papers vary in texture, hue, acidity, and strength when wet. Smooth paper is good for rendering fine detail, but a more “toothy” paper holds the drawing material better. Thus a coarser material is useful for producing deeper contrast. Newsprint and typing paper may be useful for practice and rough sketches.
Tracing paper is used to experiment over a half-finished drawing, and to transfer a design from one sheet to another. Cartridge paper is the basic type of drawing paper sold in pads. Vellum is extremely smooth and suitable for very fine detail. Acid-free, archival quality paper keeps its color and texture far longer than wood pulp based paper such as newsprint, which turns yellow and becomes brittle much sooner. The basic tools are a drawing board or table, pencil sharpener and eraser, and for ink drawing, blotting paper. Almost all draftsmen use their hands and fingers to apply the media, with the exception of some handicapped individuals who draw with their mouth or feet.
Prior to working on an image, the artist typically explores how various media work. They may try different drawing implements on practice sheets to determine value and texture, and how to apply the implement to produce various effects. The artist’s choice of drawing strokes affects the appearance of the image. Cross-hatching uses hatching in two or more different directions to create a darker tone. Drawings in dry media often use similar techniques, though pencils and drawing sticks can achieve continuous variations in tone. Typically a drawing is filled in based on which hand the artist favors. A right-handed artist draws from left to right to avoid smearing the image.