Starting with a Sketch
By Alexandra Wade - January 13, 2023

A sketch is a hastily drawn, freehand image that is typically not meant to be a finished piece of art. A sketch can be used for a variety of things, including recording what the artist observes, developing an idea for later use, or quickly graphically illustrating an idea, concept, or principle. The least costly art medium is drawing.

Any drawing medium may be used to create sketches. The phrase is most frequently used to describe graphic work done in a dry medium like silverpoint, graphite, pencil, charcoal, or pastel. Additionally, it may apply to pen-and-ink drawings as well as digital input from tools like digital pens, ballpoint pens, marker pens, watercolors, and oil paint.

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Students studying art are typically required to sketch as part of their coursework. Drawings (croquis) from a live model whose stance changes every few minutes are typically part of this. A “sketch” often denotes a hastily drawn piece, whereas phrases like “study,” “modello,” and “preparatory drawing” typically refer to more meticulous, polished pieces that will serve as the foundation for a final piece, frequently in a different media. However, this difference is ambiguous. Drawing beneath the finished piece is known as underdrawing, and it is often still visible or may be seen using cutting-edge scientific techniques like X-rays.

The sketch is a common tool used by most visual artists to some extent in order to capture or refine ideas. Many pages of famous artists’ sketchbooks, such as those of Leonardo da Vinci and Edgar Degas, which have become works of art in and of themselves, include both drawings and finished studies. A volume of blank paper that an artist might use to create sketches is referred to as a “sketchbook.” The book may be ordered bound or it can be made up of loose sketches that are combined or bound together.