What defines GOOD drawing? Is this question valid?


how do you know if your good at drawing? does it mean that you can draw out of your head, like just some random person your thinking of perfectly. Or does it mean that you can draw life very accurately? Is this even a fair question or am i just reading too much into this and missing the obvious answer of “If it looks good then you can draw, duh!” Maybe this is more of a philisophical search to find why masters are so great…any takers?


Good drawing comes out of practice and experience. It’s really independent of style ~ if someone has practiced and studied for years, it will show in their work, regardless of the style. Masters like Carmean, Hogarth, Loomis, Bridgeman (on the educational front) draw well because they have honed their craft over decades of practice.

There is a standard art school axiom which is that it takes 10 years to learn how to draw (traditionally) and 7 if you’re a genius. I really do think that it takes that long to learn traditional drawing. People are able to progress much faster digitally, but it’s best I think to learn traditional drawing and painting first, since it is so much harder to do, and therefore challenges and teaches you more.

There is another axiom which is that you must do hundreds and thousands of bad drawings before you get to the good ones. That, too, I’ve found to be true. No one has a magical hand, and all good work is a result of practice and dedication.

Think of learning to draw in the same terms as a dancer in training. No dancer dances well without hundreds of hours of practice. It’s the same with visual art.

There are no set rules for what makes a ‘good’ drawing. Certainly people will disagree as to what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. I think a good drawing is one that you recognize as such. As you learn more, you will naturally revise your evaluation of what is good and bad about your own work.

Cheers, :slight_smile:



I agree wholeheartedly with Rebecca. Visual Artist geniouses simply do not occur the way someone like Mozart occurs.

I think that there needs to be a balance between technical skill and having a fundamental message. There are tons of people who have their craft well honed and can draw their asses off, but say nothing that emotionally resonates with the viewer. Conversely, there are people who have something to say, but either lack or do not need practiced skill to get their point across.

I think that for most people there should be a balance. You should be able to draw accurately enough. If it looks bad, it is bad. The degree of refinement you apply to your drawings should be in conjunction with what you’re trying to say with them. Learning to draw is like learning a vocabulary or a language. If you are speaking to someone, you make a judgement about what you want to say to them and what is the best way to get your point across. You can be verbose and show off how many words you know to say something simple, or you can be clear and direct. Either way you are saying the same thing, and you ultimately must make a judgement on the best way to say it.

So in my opinion, how you draw, should be determined by what you are trying to say with your drawing. Look at it this way: Pavoratti vs. Eminem. Which is the right way?


Thanks for the gems of info Rebeccak. I feel as thought I am missing the point of searching for better ways to draw and it’s slowing me down.

I agree with you Pixel. I suppose art can be gauged by how someone reacts to your vision, if at all. If the piece doesnt evoke a persons perspective to come out, then it can be regarded as a failure. I think a good piece of art must move someone other than the artist. drawing is ,after all only a venue to the goal which is expression. So maybe it doesn’t matter as much as I assumed it did.


Agreeing with Rebecca and Pixel. I think that while it is of course personal taste ultimately that causes someone to define a drawing as “good”, it will also be judged on the same criteria:

Subject matter (very subjective…more meaningful and profound or big tits extravaganza?)
Technique (again, subjective…some may prefer more artsy looseness, some technical rendering)
Accuracy (even in stylised paintings, does it work?)
Colours (there most certainly are good and bad colour choices - unusual combinations can work, but an all out over saturated neon monstrousity or the like…well…thats just plain bad :slight_smile: Though I’m pretty sure there are some peope who can make anything work).

Eh…actually…I’m not as sure now where I was going with this as I was when I started posting :shrug: hehe…I’ll post it anyway though, maybe someone who is more eloquent that myself will get my point even if I’ve forgotten what it was.


Everything that has been said above… and eat plenty of this stuff:

Trust me.


Drawing also has a huge technical part which can be learnt with hardwork. So it’s not like you can never draw. But only drawing techniques do not help in creating actual art. There has to be some expression in the drawing and that depends on individual and his/her style.

But if you feel you are going slow then check if you are working hard enough. And if you feel you are working hard enough but you are not getting good results then you should get more feedback on your work and that will definitely help you improve your skills. Getting cirtiques helps improving drawing faster…


I would have to agree with everything said above. I am only just starting to grasp what drawing is and what it will require. This is after a few years of numerous art classes, and miniscule “yurikas”. The most important “yurika” for me was from a ceramic class. Wheel throwing is similar to drawing in that once a pot starts to fall over, its best to start again. Amazingly, it is harder to ball up a sketch going wrong then with clay, but it NEEDS TO BE DONE!! The other source of several yurikas was Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

But to get back to the question at hand… Drawing from memory and drawing what you see are only two ways to draw(though drawing from memory is impressive). Things that I look for are how well the artist executes the fundamentals ( line, form, and their relationships)
Also a good artist will take into account not only the subject that they are drawing, but what they want to say about it. Drawing is not just recreating what you see, but making a comment about it using different mediums, colors, etc. (unless you prefer to make manuals) Which is what I think Elsie was saying… a piece anyway =)

As for your work to have an impact on someone, greatly relies on the subject matter and the person. An example that comes to mind is a classical concert I went to. A women walked up to one of the composers in tears, completely moved by his music. I was not so lucky, and did not enjoy it too much.


agree wholeheartedly with what Rebecca’s already said! it’s practice… also traditional drawing is indeed way harder than digital - I find there are so many tricks with Photoshop that let me get better while with a pencil I just cannot do the shortcuts… have to learn - only just started so i’m no expert at all but I like to think that practice will make me better :slight_smile:


All of these responses are great and very thought provoking. They have conjured more questions.I suppose my real threat is not skill(better, the persuit of) , but inspiration. Up to thispoint can only recreate no-fictional pieces. I am trying to uncap the potential of an inspired artist. I suppose this might sound foolish tos some but I feel that I’m missing something im all of my art. A style. But how does one develop style then? Does someone just keep adding little pieces of their life to their art until a pettern emerges in the end birthing "A"style? Am I making any sense. This might seem trivial to some, in which case I envy you.I think the “drawing from the right side of the brain” book might help. So much sage advice here…great!


I agree with you on style… it developes with time when person develops certain pattern in his/her work…

And inspiration is what makes an artist, drawing is the medium to express it…


30 years in my case, i only been alive for 20…

just dont stop doing it man. i find if i think too hard about drawing i get caught up in the technical things and as a result the creativity flows like rocks.

keep your drawings, even the bad ones. then when you feel down about where your at with your work, pull those old suckers out and marvel at the progression.

my 2 cents


thanks for the $.02 :slight_smile:

I bought Drawing on the right side of the brain. I’m so happy now. Also, the Zen of Seeing is a great book by Frederick Franck. Yummy.
Thanks so much everyone.


“Good” and “bad” are subjective terms. (Well, that’s not quite how I feel about ethics, but that’s a whole 'nother story…) There is no such thing as absolutely good art or absolutely bad art.

There are three factors to consider–the viewer’s reaction, the artist’s enjoyment, and the technical correctness of the piece. A piece that fails on all three counts is, yes, a failure; it’s bad art if anything is. But a piece that does well on one or more of these three fronts is successful on some level and could be called “good art” simply because it has a purpose for existing.

Then again, many artists spend time working on studies that no one enjoys viewing, that they themselves don’t enjoy creating, and that display limited technical proficiency. Yet these can still be useful because they teach the artist something for the future. Are these pieces of art “good”?

Art contests are generally judged on the first and third factors I mentioned, but these are subjective because different audiences have different reactions and artistic rules are made to be broken.

Ultimately, art is good if it pleases the person currently interacting with it. It may be good to one person and bad to another. When we speak of improving our own art, what we really mean is improving the overall experiences of the viewer and of the artist, often through increasing our understanding of the “rules.”


Data, Fantastic reply! Bravo!:applause:

This answer has exposed me to a new facet of interpretation. I really enjoy this answer a lot! Like my-new-wallpaper a lot…:thumbsup:


Data, Fantastic reply! Bravo!:applause:

This answer has exposed me to a new facet of interpretation. I really enjoy this answer a lot! Like my-new-wallpaper a lot…:thumbsup:

Thank you kindly…I’m just glad what I said made sense to anyone else beside me! :smiley:


The most important key to drawing is perception of nature.

Drawing works best if the artist has been mentored. It takes all the technique and practice mentioned in earlier posts. Teachers will assist you to see what is right in front of you, and help you to correct your mistakes.

It takes highly focused observation of phenomena, and coaching. The tricks of the trade have been developed over centuries. Find the best coaches that are willing to share what they’ve learned. An artist needs to be taught how to see in a way that opens up the possibility of developing the ability to draw.

Without developing the ability to see (and measure), drawing never rises above the mediocre.

When I look at an accomplished artists work, I can tell from their drawings that they have done the deep study necessary to enrich an image with convincing quality. I don’t just mean realistic. To produce an image that communicates motion, gravity, weight, tension, texture, emotion and atmosphere requires a perspective that takes years to develop.

Drawing from ones imagination can only get better if the artist continuously studies the myriad of details surrounding one. Internalizing these details by practice, and using reference to spark the creative process, can enrich the creative product of any artist.


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