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Drawing Art Terms

Updated on August 29, 2012

What are Drawing Art Terms

Understanding Drawing Art Terms

There are some basic drawing art terms that are used by both artists and collectors to describe various elements in drawings. These drawing art terms include formal analysis, form and composition. An understanding of drawing art terms such as value, texture, form, mass and shape as well as emotion and line or space and line will help you view the piece in a completely different way.

Formal analysis is one of the drawing art terms that is most helpful to a novice collector or artist because when you study outstanding work, you are able to identify and appreciate the way that diverse artists will capture the same subject.

When form is used in drawing art terms, it describes part or individual objects. However, the term can also describe the entire composition's total character. Another one of the key art drawing terms is composition, which is the overall arrangement of the parts or elements of one specific work of art. The composition of several works of art is the format analysis. Again, this is one of the most useful drawing art terms because it involves taking a piece of art apart and studying the individual basic shapes that are blended together to create a whole.

Drawing Art Terms



Value is among one of the most important drawing art terms. Variations in tone or value, represent variations in darkness and lightness. This is one of the most used drawing art terms because it helps express and understand feelings, defines shape, creates mass and emphasizes special parts.

As a collector, this is one of the most useful drawing art terms because it helps you to understand how light and shadow can be used to portray shape and texture how these influences can dramatically or subtly offer emphasis to specific parts. If light and dark shadows are contrasted, they are referred to as chiaroscuro.


Texture is one of the most common drawing art terms used because it is found on virtually every object and it provides the pattern for contrasting surfaces. Texture-related drawing art terms include hard, soft, rough or smooth. Drawing captures texture using techniques such as curved lines, strippling, dots or hatching. Other technique drawing art terms include pencil edge, scratches, cross hatching and smudging. These techniques provide texture and volume to subjects.


Many artists disagree over the exact meanings of three drawing art terms being form, mass and above all shape. Traditionally, shape is depicted as anything that offers clear boundaries. This is one of the most controversial drawing art terms because it has only two dimensions being length and width however, an illusion can be provided by overlapping shapes.

Form is the most diverse of the shape genre drawing art terms and can include shadows and related shapes. Lastly, mass falls under shape drawing art terms as well. For a piece to have mass, it must have depth unless the subject is positioned on an edge.


Line is the broadest of all drawing art terms however, it is often used incorrectly. A line is capable of having its own character and can express tranquility and anxiety.

  • Curved Lines – The effect of movement is enhanced according to how thick the line is in regards to the traveling direction.

  • Line and Space – This is one of the more difficult drawing art terms for an artist to attain. Line and space involves giving the drawing an illusion of depth, such as a horizon.

  • Motion in Line – This is one of the most useful drawing art terms when studying pieces of work because it is the way that a line will suggest movement such as leaning or waves of an ocean.

Once you understand drawing art terms and how to actually identify them in works of art, you will have a more solid understanding of why an artist would choose to use a specific feature, based on the situation.


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