Difference Between Sketching and Drawing

Sketching vs Drawing

Difference between sketching and drawing can be a question for you if you are not much aware of visual arts techniques. The very basic or the fundamental difference between sketching and drawing is that the sketching is a freehand drawing, which can also be considered as the preliminary stage of a drawing. However, this need not be so every time; a sketch in itself can be an artwork too. In the field of visual arts, both sketching and drawing are two important means of expressing oneself in an artistic manner. But, we can point out a number of differences between these two forms of visual art; namely, sketching and drawing, in terms of the techniques and the tools used.

What is Sketching?

Technically speaking, sketching is a freehand drawing that is made using multiple pass lines to create a picture with minimum details and a lot of suggestions. It is drawn without using any tools and even eraser. It is a process of creating pictures using pencils and charcoal only. Also, it only uses shades of light and dark. For an artist, a sketch serves as a raw material for something more substantial later on. Artists make sketches to work out possibilities and to look for best composition. Sketches also are preliminary attempts to catch a beautiful scene or an experience. Artists resort to sketch, to have a quick record of a momentary experience. It is another thing that many sketches of famous artists have become so popular that they are appreciated more than their other drawings.


Sketching is more about capturing an essence rather than lingering over details. Therefore, sketches are done with a casualness that is not found with drawing. However, sketching is an integral way of practicing for an artist. As an activity, sketching serves to keep drawing skills sharp all the time. Therefore, it will never be the product of much thought as a drawing. Also, not a lot of time is taken to complete a sketch.

What is Drawing?

Drawing, on the other hand, has more details and is made using pencils, crayons, pastel, markers, etc. to give more effect. Drawing makes use of tools to create single pass lines that are more neat and clean than a rough hand sketch. Drawings are begun with more fore-thought and planning than a sketch would never get. An artist may have a sketchbook where all his hasty sketches are stored. Sometimes, these sketches may never see the light of the day. However, some sketches are used later to come up with masterpieces of drawings. Drawings are always the final, finished product. Drawing is more careful, planned and slower than sketching. An artist can take his time to think about details and keep on refining the picture for as long as he desires.

Difference Between Sketching and Drawing

What is the difference between Sketching and Drawing?

People talk of sketching and drawing in the same breath which is incorrect as they are two different means of expression for an artist.

• While sketching is a freehand drawing that focuses on capturing the essence rather than going into details, drawing is a slow and more careful expression that makes use of tools and uses colors too.

• Sketching is done using pencils and charcoal only. Drawing is done using pencils, crayons, pastel, markers, etc.

• Sketches often serve the purpose of a beautiful drawing later on.

• Sketching produces a picture made with minimum details while drawing produces a very detailed picture.

• Drawings are always the final, finished product while sketches are preliminary attempts to catch a beautiful scene or an experience.

• Sketching does not take much time, but drawing takes a lot of time.


Images Courtesy: Sketch and Drawing via Wikicommons (Public Domain)