Drawing is a form of visual expression and is one of the major forms within the visual arts. There are a number of subcategories of drawing, including cartooning. Certain drawing methods or approaches, such as "doodling" and other informal kinds of drawing such as drawing in the fog a shower leaves on a bathroom mirror, or the surrealist method of "entoptic graphomania", in which dots are made at the sites of impurities in a blank sheet of paper, and lines are then made between the dots, may or may not be considered as part of "drawing" as a "fine art."
The word 'drawing' is used as both a verb and a noun:
- Drawing is the act of making marks on a surface so as to create an image, form or shape.
- The produced image is also called a drawing (. A quick, unrefined drawing may be defined as a .
In simplistic terms, drawing is distinct from painting, perhaps more so in the Western view; East Asian art, which generally only uses brushes, has historically made less distinction between the two. Critics may praise a painter's ability to draw well, meaning that the shapes, especially of the human body, are well-articulated, or a drawing may be considered painterly.
Adding confusion, similar tools and media may be used in both tasks. Dry media normally associated with drawing, such as chalk, may be used in pastel painting. Drawing may be done with liquid media applied with brushes or pens. Similar supports likewise can serve both: painting generally involves the application of liquid paint onto prepared canvas or panels, but sometimes an underdrawing is drawn first on that same support. Drawing is generally concerned with the marking of lines and areas of tone onto paper, but watercolor painting uses a paper support. Traditional drawings were monochrome, or at least had little colour, while modern coloured-pencil drawings may approach or cross the boundary (if there is one) between drawing and painting.
The term drawing suggests a process and intent that is distinct from the traditional act of painting. While there are drawings that are finished artworks, drawing is often exploratory, with considerable emphasis on observation, problem solving and composition, often as a means of preparation for a painting. In contrast, traditional painting is often a means of execution or finishing an artwork. It is fair to note that modern painters often incorporate methods of drawing in their painting process, particularly in the early stages of a painting.