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Every artist wants to get better at his craft.
But what makes a good drawing?
Which characteristics do amazing pieces of art have in common?
Let’s find out in this article!
Table of Contents
What Makes A Drawing Good Is Subjective
The first thing you have to keep in mind is that, in general, quality in art is subjective.
You can’t really judge art fairly. What one person thinks is amazing is another one’s worst nightmare.
It all comes down to individual taste and what one specific individual considers art (or not).
One person might like realistic drawings and marvels at photorealistic pencil portraits while another one prefers more abstract paintings that seem like random blobs of color to someone else.
That’s just how it is and it is the reality every artist has to confront:
You can’t please everyone.
In fact, that’s the best reason to create artwork in a style that you like.
But are there actually somewhat objective qualities, you can refer to, to determine what makes a drawing good ?
Objective Characteristics Of Good Art
I have an analytical mind.
I’m a media designer and visual artist and if something looks great, I want to understand why.
This has led me to think logically about art and design many times. It has made me try to distill objective technical qualities in designs and artworks that I can strive for myself to create works of equal value.
While art in general is subjective, I think there are certain things drawings and paintings that create a “wow-effect“ have in common.
Common Characteristics of good art are the skillful use of details, light and shadow, color, perspective and composition. Another quality that can make a drawing look good is a high degree of realism.
1. The Amount Of Details
What can make a drawing look good is using the right amount of details.
Essentially, details give the eye something to look at.
Often, it’s much more interesting to look at an intricately crafted drawing with lots of details than at a drawing that is made up only of large simple shapes. There’s just more to look at.
You have to be careful though as drawing too many details can be overwhelming for the eye.
Finding the right balance of detailed parts and not so detailed parts is key. Focus on the areas of your piece of art you want the viewer to look at most.
Light and shadow can have a huge impact on how good your artwork looks.
A lot of times it’s the lighting situation alone that makes a drawing or painting stand out and look interesting.
Lighting creates atmosphere.
Just like in a movie, where every shot is planned carefully and no light source is placed arbitrarily, you can create a special mood in a painting, too.
For example, a scene in sunlight has a completely different vibe than a night scene with moonlight.
Moreover, the correct use of light and shadow makes everything in your artwork look more three-dimensional, hence more realistic and believable.
Check out this playlist on my YouTube-channel, if you want to get started with learning how to shade faces.
3. The Handling Of Colors
If you create something colorful instead of a black and white piece, the skillful use of the colors will make or break your work.
Some of the greatest artworks in the world have amazing color combinations.
The human eye loves contrast.
Therefore, complementary colors work well together and are often used as a base for the colors in a drawing. For example, a night scene with a dark blue background and bright orange elements in the foreground (e.g. fire), like this: