Is Drawing a Skill or a Talent?

Is drawing a skill or talent  is a question which I have often had to answer as an art professional. It is also a question that  I can expect to hear from a lay person who knows little about the subject of drawing. I can recall on many occasions be questioned can you teach somebody to draw, ‘Is drawing an innate skill which can be taught or is is a talent’, bestowed on the individual from birth. My personal opinion is that it is a little bit of both.

Is drawing a skill or a talent?  Drawing is a skill that can be learned to a certain degree. There are several important skills that you need to perfect in order to become skilled when drawing. Developing observational drawing skills which require attention to detail is important as is applying tone if you wish to apply depth and visual interest.

Understanding perspective and relative proportion is also an important skill. A grasp of composition. Drawing portraits and human expressions.  An ability to master a number of artistic mediums and materials. Applying color effectively in your work.

In this article I will explain what is meant by artistic talent and contrast this basic drawing skills which can be developed with sustained practice.

Please look at this drawing and sketching video course I have createdUse this link.

So read on for a full and detailed explanation;

What is Artistic Talent?

Is Drawing a Skill?
Is Drawing a Skill?

Imagine the first question I would  ask is, what is a talent? Plus, how does a pure talent or ability relate to the process of drawing? Appreciating what talent is and exploring examples of talented artists who were historically classed as natural artistic geniuses could give me the answer I am seeking.

When we consider the question what talent is, by definition it is simple. Talent is a natural skill or aptitude for an activity. Which confirms that artistic talent and ability includes, the ability to create art in different art forms including drawing, painting and  3 dimensional art.

Picasso is a perfect example of the modern artist who was a natural  draftsman. As a relatively young boy, Picasso could draw to an extremely high standard for a child of his age. He diligently and obsessively practiced drawing on a daily basis. He was committed daily to the routine of drawing and developing his observational awareness to an exceptional standard.

Picasso in many ways is the perfect example: an exceptional talent. But he knew that this talent required nurturing and daily practice. Hence the daily drawing routine and development is an awareness of the world around him.

Is Drawing a Skill?

Drawing is definitely a skill, but why?  Drawing can be taught and with constant practice can be developed to a high standard. Yet, even with a lifetime of practice, some people will never master this skill. A person ability to draw is as individual as their handwriting. It is clear there are individual talents such as Picasso who were born with the inherent ability to draw to an exceptional standard. However, talent requires constant development as we can see in the Picasso illustration.

How to Develop Your Drawing Skills?

Let's consider drawing skills in isolation. What are drawing skills and how can I get perfect my drawing skills? Here is a list of some fundamental principles of good drawing?

What does a drawing from observation mean? The term observational drawing refers to the act of drawing directly from life. That is the direct inspiration of the landscape, figure or still life. Drawing from observation and attempting to render as much detail as is accurately possible is the ultimate goal when recording from observation. This is not to be confused with an expressive drawing based on the imaginative interpretation of the subject.

The Ability to Use Art Media when Drawing

Is the use of materials is important when drawing? In fact, when we consider the wide array of materials we can draw upon as artists, excuse the bun. I believe it essential. For example, how I use a pencil in terms of weight of line and expression will inevitably determine the overall aesthetic effect I will achieve in my drawing. This is certainly a skill that can be refined and improved with practice. 

Creative and Imaginative Drawing

What is a creative drawing?

 This question can be very directly related to the first drawing children create.  A child can express themselves very freely when drawing with colors using their imagination to create drawings.

Mark Making on Paper

Perspective and Technical Drawing:

What is perspective?  Perspective is the skill or illusion of a creating the impression of the distance in a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane.  Foreshortening is also an important method I use when I need to create a sense of distance as objects naturally appear smaller as they recede into the distance. For further information on how to draw using perspective please read my post, A Guide to Drawing a City Street.

What is Aerial Perspective? Aerial or atmospheric perspective differs however in that it seeks to create the illusion of distance in a landscape drawing for example with graduated tone and blue.

Proportion  and Relative Proportion

Why is proportion important when drawing? Proportion is fundamental to particular drawing methods, for example, when I am drawing a still life or figure from direct observation, the proportions are extremely important. I will not achieve a realistic outcome if the proportions are incorrect. Relative proportion is also fundamental to the process of drawing the human form. For example,  when I am drawing a figure from direct observation, it's essential that the different elements such as arms, legs, head, and torso are in a relatively good proportion to each other.


What is Composition and why is it important?   Simply put, when I begin a drawing I immediately create a composition. The composition is the means by which I draw the attention of the viewer to a certain aspect or feature of my image. Elements such as contrast, height, rhythm, and directional line are all aspects, composition, which, when I learned to understand them helped improve the standard of my drawing. Composition is a vast subject, in fact, I could write a whole new post regarding this one aspect of drawing.

Drawing with Shade and Tone
Apply Shading to A Portrait

Why is tone important in drawing? The skill of drawing with shade and tone adds a level of depth and visual interest to drawing that cannot be achieved it line alone. Light and dark contrast is integral to drawing from life.  When I apply light and dark shading to a linear drawing, it immediately has the effect of bringing it alive and adding a whole new quality onto the surface of the drawing. Shade and be applied to a variety of media and materials and is a skill to be developed with practice. Learn more about value and tone by visiting my post, Understanding Value and Tone in your Drawings.


Why is color important when I draw? All colors contain an element's value, intensity, and temperature in varying degrees. When I draw with color pencils, for example, all three of these elements can be combined to create the illusion of depth and space. Value refers to how much lightness and darkness a color contains and this can be applied in varying degrees to create the illusions of form and space when I draw. Color temperature is also an important factor to consider when I organize the colors on the page. Cool colors recede and warm and hot colors advance. 

 Drawing Portraits and the Human Figure

Why is drawing the human figure important?  The study of human anatomy has always been one of the staples of the traditional art school curriculum.  Life drawing from observation gives students the opportunity to perfect sketching and painting skills to a higher level.  As a student, I remember spending numerous hours working from direct observation to improve my understanding of proportion.

Can Anyone be Good at Drawing?

If we return to the Picasso example, we know that individuals are born with innate abilities and talents. Yet, artistic talent is not always enough in itself, skills require constant practice. Being the stand out the child at school who is good at drawing is one thing; However, taking those basic talents and developing them in an art school or higher education settings is a whole new ball game.

If you have a child who is artistically gifted my advice is to encourage them to practice the basic fundamental principles of drawing as much as possible, encourage them to take creative risks and develop their awareness of new concepts and ideas.

Can I learn to Draw if I Have No Talent?

Can I learn to draw if I have no talent? Yes, with intensive drawing practice you will definitely see a dramatic improvement in your ability to draw. Focus on developing and practicing the fundamental principles and you will see real results. If you are looking to develop your drawing skill online I recommend this course. Buy Online Drawing Courses

Is Drawing a Useful Skill?

Is drawing a useful skill? Drawing is a fundamental skill which allows us to explore the world around us. From a basic diagram and maps in everyday life to the drawing on the walls made by prehistoric humans.

Create Art With My Favourite Drawing Resources

General Drawing Courses. I like Udemy if you want to develop your knowledge of drawing techniques. Udemy is an excellent choice due to its wide range of creative courses and excellent refund policy. They often have monthly discounts for new customers, which you can check here. Use my link.

Sketching and Collage. Take a look at this sketching resource I have created. Use this link.

Proko. Is one of my favorite teachers who surpasses in the teaching of Anatomy and Figure drawing. Prokos course breaks down the drawing of the human body into easy-to-follow components aiding the beginner to make rapid progress. For this, I really like Proko.

Art Easels. One of my favorite ways to draw is by using a drawing easel, which develops the skill of drawing on a vertical surface. The H frame easel is an excellent vertical way to add variety to the style and type of marks you create when using a drawing board.

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I made for you.





Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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