26 Types of Drawings… or the many ‘faces’ of a line

26 Types of Drawings… or the many ‘faces’ of a line

Drawing is the art, process, the technique of representing an object, scene, or idea by means of lines on a surface.

The term drawing is applied to works that vary greatly in technique. It has been understood in different ways at different times and is difficult to define. During the Renaissance the term ‘disegno’ implied drawing both as a technique to be distinguished from colouring and also as the creative idea made visible in the preliminary sketch.

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines drawing as:

‘the formation of a line by drawing some tracing instrument from point to point of a surface; representation by lines; delineation as distinguished from painting…the arrangement of lines which determine form.’

Despite this insistence on the formation of line and the implied lack of colour, few would deny that a work formed by dots or shading or wholly in line but in a range of colours is a drawing.

Here are 26 type of drawings… or 26 different expressions a line can play on a surface:


1 Analytical drawing

Analytical figure drawing by Elora Lyda
Analytical drawing relates to the drawing of lines to represent the three-dimension structure and geometry of a form, proceeding generally from the whole to constituent parts.

2 Analytique

Analytique is an elevation drawing of a façade, surrounded by a decorative arrangement of drawings of important details and sometimes a plan or section of the façade.

3 Axonometric drawing

Tekstiler Kvartal by Chris Dove
Axonometric is a paraline drawing of an axonometric projection, having all lines parallel to the three principal axes drawn to scale but diagonal and curved lines distorted.

4 Cabinet drawing

Massimo Scolari
Cabinet drawing is a paraline drawing of an oblique projection, having all lines parallel to the picture plane drawn to exact scale, and the receding lines perpendicular to the picture plane reduced to half scale.

5 Cartoon

Cartoon for the School of Athens by Raphael
A cartoon is a full-scale drawing of a motif or design, to be transferred in preparation for a fresco, mosaic, or tapestry.

6 Cavalier drawing

The following pieces have been drawn in Cavalier Perspective.
Cavalier drawing is a paraline drawing of an oblique projection, having the receding lines perpendicular to the picture plane drawn to the same scale as the lines parallel to the picture plane.

7 Conception drawing

Álvaro Siza Vieira
Conception is a drawing of something that does not exist yet.

8 Construction drawings

Floor plan example
Construction drawings, also called contract drawings or working drawings, are the portion of the contract documents showing in accurate graphic or pictorial form the design, location, dimensions, and relationships of the elements of a project.

9 Contour drawing

Picasso’s famous contour drawing of Igor Stravinsky
Contour drawing is a technique of drawing lines to represent the contours of a subject, without shading or modelling of form.

10 Cutaway

Cutaway plan with shadows by Warren Haasnoot Studio
Cutaway is a drawing or model having an outer section removed to display the interior.

11 Design drawing

Daniel Simon / Captain America. Drawings. Design. Copyright Marvel Studios
Design drawing is any of the drawings made to aid in the visualisation, exploration, and evaluation of a concept in the design process.

12 Drafting

Ship technical drawing
Drafting or mechanical drawing is a drawing done with the aid of such instruments as T-squares, triangles, compasses, and scales, specifically for the systemic representation and dimensional specification of architectural and engineering structures.

13 Épure

Tracé de charpente, cours de Pierre-François Guillon
Épure is a full-scale, detailed drawing done on a wall, floor, or other large surfaces, from which are traced the patterns for various building elements.

14 Esquisse

Maison Bois au Stade esquisse
Esquisse is a sketch showing the general features of a design or plan.

15 Freehand drawing

Cattedrale San Marco, Venice by Rachel Robinson
Freehand drawing is the art, process, or technique of drawing by hand without the aid of drafting tools or mechanical devides, in order to represent or visualise an idea.

16 Cross-contour drawing

Darren Criss – Cross Contour by paranoid-melodies
Cross-contour drawing is the technique of drawing lines to represent a series of cuts across the surface of a form rather than its edges.

17 Gesture drawing

Gesture drawing by Chelsea Stebar
Gesture drawing is a technique of drawing a single or multiple lines freely and quickly as a subject is visualised and perceptions of volume, mass, movement, and significant details are projected onto the drawing surface.

18 Oblique drawing

Parc de la Villette by Bernard Tschumi
Oblique drawing is a paraline drawing of an oblique projection, having all lines and faces parallel to the picture plane drawn to exact scale, and all receding lines perpendicular to the picture plane shown at any convenient angle other than 90° sometimes at a reduced scale to offset the appearance of distortion.

19 Paraline drawing

Paraline Drawing by berthalaban
Paraline drawing relates to any of various single-view drawings characterised by parallel lines remaining parallel to each other rather than converging as in linear perspective.

20 Perspective drawing

Perspective drawing by Jans Vredeman de Vries
Perspective relates to any of various techniques for representing three-dimensional objects and spatial relationships on a two-dimensional surface as they might appear to the eye.

21 Presentation drawing

Presentation drawing for the proposed rebuilding of Downing Street with two Triumphal Arches in perspective.
Presentation drawings are any of a set of design drawings made to articulate and communicate a design concept or proposal, as for exhibition, review, or publication.

22 Rendering

Watercolor Rendering by Elizabeth Day
Rendering is a drawing, specifically a perspective, of a building or interior space, artistically delineating materials, shades, and shadows, usually done for the purpose of presentation and persuasion.

23 Sketch

Dunlop Street, Little India by PaulArtSG
A sketch is a simply or hastily executed drawing representing the essential features of an object or scene without the details often made as a preliminary study.

24 Study drawing

Study drawings by Burne Hogarth
A study, sometimes referred as a referential drawing,  is a drawing executed as an educational exercise, produced as a preliminary to a final work, or made to record observations.

25 Tromp l’oeil

The Flying Carpet by Kurt Wenner
Tromp l’oeil is a drawing in which objects are rendered in extremely fine detail to emphasize the illusion of tactile and spatial qualities.

26 Vignette

Fire Boots Vignette by George Carl
Vignette is a drawing that is shaded off gradually into the surrounding paper as to leave no definite line at the border.