Lately, I’ve been feeling uninspired by drawing in the same sort of art. So, in an effort to expand my drawing repertoire, I’ve been exploring various art styles that pique my interest.
In this post, I’ve put together a list of 13 art styles, encompassing both modern and classic approaches, that resonate with me. I’ll share what makes each style unique and appealing, and I’ll provide examples of drawings for your reference. Additionally, I’ll offer some valuable tips, resources, and inspiration to help you navigate these art styles.
Please note that I have a deep passion for drawing people, so this list leans heavily toward art styles that complement portrait drawing. And with that disclaimer in place, let’s get started! 😊
Without a doubt, minimalism tops my list of favorite drawing styles and it’s all about saying more with less. When drawing in this style, each mark on the paper must be purposeful so you have to constantly think whether what you’re about to put down on paper will enhance or detract from the artwork.
Here are five helpful tips for mastering minimalism:
- Allow ample white space and shade only specific areas to emphasize them.
- Draw clean, flowing lines with confidence and avoid retracing existing lines (though it’s easier said than done).
- Be deliberate and precise in your mark-making.
- Focus on creating round, organic shapes while avoiding sharp angles.
- Conduct preliminary studies of your subject before attempting a minimalistic drawing.
I’m currently on a journey to explore other drawing styles because I’ve found that executing minimalism requires meticulous planning that can sometimes feel a bit exhausting as a beginner artist.
Realism is often the first style that beginners aspire to master. It involves accurately depicting subjects as they appear in reality, without exaggeration or abstraction. Achieving realism demands a keen eye for the tangible details of what you’re drawing, patience (lots of it), and the technical skills to bring your observations to life.
Within realism, various sub-styles exist, ranging from hyperrealistic photorealism to contemporary interpretations by artists like Steve Huston that blend realism with abstraction.
Personally, I’m currently more drawn to contemporary approaches to realism, as I find them visually captivating and less time-consuming than the meticulous hours required for photorealism.
Semi-realism exaggerates the proportions of what you’re drawing and stylizes the subject while still retaining some characteristics of realism. I love how Eleeza Ivanova draws this way and adds decorative elements to her drawings in a way that I find really refreshing.
When I started learning to draw semi-realism, the thing I struggled most with was rendering. Despite exaggerating proportions, my shading appeared traditional, resulting in portraits resembling caricature drawings.
An insight I gained from Loish, another artist I greatly admire in this genre, is that you don’t have to shade a drawing precisely like a reference and you can render forms in a way that conveys three-dimensional qualities without overdoing it.
As a beginner artist who started by learning to draw realistically, watching a stylization tutorial by Loish helped me a lot in transitioning towards semi-realism, and I encourage anyone interested in learning this style to watch the video linked below for some great tips and ideas.
4 Classical Renaissance
I often find myself revisiting artworks, sculptures, and architectural marvels from the Classical Renaissance era for inspiration. Studying the artworks of the old masters like Leonardo Da Vinci, Albracht Durer, and Raphael is especially enlightening and refreshing.
Renaissance art is characterized by aesthetically pleasing compositions, idealized human forms, and themes drawn from mythology and spirituality. I find the timeless quality of the artworks from this era really inspiring.
Impressionist drawing aims to capture the atmospheric mood by depicting how natural light interacts with a scene using loose, visible strokes to convey movement. I love studying the artworks by the pioneers of impressionism like Sargent, Degas, and Cezanne for inspiration.
Compared to realism, impressionism requires a looser interpretation of the subject and a combination of hard and soft edges to emphasize depth as well as leaving certain details to the viewer’s imagination.
Doodling is a childhood pastime that few of us continue to enjoy. Although I outgrew doodling in my early teens, I envy those who are able to sustain their love for it well into adulthood.
Last year, I took a course on transforming doodles into art, taught by the talented Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson, who by the way has the most adorable art style. Highly recommend you guys to check out his course.
Learning to doodle rekindled my interest in doodling as a way to sketch ideas in a relaxed, casual manner and helped me get back to drawing consistently after a long art break. So if any of you are getting back to drawing after a long break and feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you need to catch up to, doodling can be the perfect way to ease yourself into starting drawing again and get over the fear of the blank page.
Academic drawing places a strong emphasis on artistic conventions, technical skills, and understanding anatomy and structure. This style has been taught in European art academies and ateliers since the seventeenth century.
I love the classical aesthetic that academic drawings possess and I find it particularly interesting to see how the masters of academic art depict idealized forms of the human body.
One of the things I look forward to studying soon to improve my academic drawing is the Bargue Plates from the famous drawing course by the nineteenth-century French Painter Charles Bargue.
These plates, which are about 200 in total, consist of drawings made from the plaster cast of various sculptures depicting human forms and were meant to be copied by art students sequentially to learn the basics of classical academic drawing in incremental steps.
Some of the greatest painters of the last couple of centuries including the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh, and Cezanne have been said to have studied the plates themselves too.
The chaotic drawing style, as I like to call it, involves creating an organized mess using lines in various directions to convey shape, tone, and structure.
Personally, I think my drawings tend to be too precise so I want to explore this art style to sketch more freely and inject more raw energy into my drawings.
In boxy art style, you want to draw a subject such as the human body by abstracting its forms in terms of simple geometric shapes like cubes, cylinders, and spheres.
Learning to draw in the boxy style is a great way to train your brain to start drawing things constructively by breaking down what you see in the most basic shapes and getting those big simple forms down on paper before moving to more complex organic shapes.
Many concept artists, especially those who specialize in vehicle and props design, incorporate constructive drawing techniques in their workflow because focusing on simple shapes enables them to figure out a way to get complex ideas down on paper. If you’re new to drawing, you may check out Draw A Box Challenge for learning constructive drawing techniques.
The sketchy art style is about embracing the loose, imperfect, and unfinished state of a drawing. I find this art style perfect for having fun while you practice and experiment with a bunch of different ideas quickly.
I often surprise myself when I sketch something in the spur of the moment without the expectation and pressure of drawing something polished and the sketch actually ends up having so much raw energy and character that is usually missing when I set out to draw something carefully.
I do have a bad habit of going over a sketch and trying to refine it further and I feel doing that saps the beauty of a sketch. So one thing I plan to work on is letting go of my sketches while they’re in an unfinished state and just being okay with that.
11 Wash and ink
Okay, full disclosure; I haven’t actually tried this art style in my drawings but it’s something I would love to experiment with in a more contemporary setting. With Inktober right around the corner, I might just convince myself to get some ink drawing supplies and just give it a go.
I love how the old masters like Leonardo Da Vinci and Raphael use soft ink washes to draw midtones and contrast that with crisp linework while leaving strategic highlights.
12 Trois Crayon
Recently, I’ve developed an interest in adding the Trois Crayons technique to my artistic repertoire, which until now has been restricted to monochrome drawing.
This technique, rooted in the 17th century and popularized by Paul Rubens, involves using three chalks—white, black, and a primary color (often red)—on paper with a gray or tan tone.
Trois Crayon drawings not only look interesting, they are also a great way to learn drawing with colors for artists like me who are used to drawing with one color. Also, the toned paper used in this technique does a good job of handling the midtones, which makes drawing values a lot easier because you really only have to focus on shadows and highlights.