What is a sketch? Discover its functions and how to make one

If you want to specialize in the world of drawing, but you have no idea what a sketch is, it’s time to start learning a little more about technical language and the tools that will turn you into the artist you want to be!

Before doing any project,

a true artist practices and studies all the options he has to improve the final result of his work

. This is where the functions of the sketch stand out. That is to say that it is not only a specialty of drawing, but also of disciplines such as architecture, web design and sculpture.

However, for draftsmen it is even more important. From the great masters to the beginners, all those who have wished to master the techniques of artistic drawing have had to practice and

and do an infinite number of tests with sketches before developing their work.

A pencil sketch is the first step of every artist on his way to success, it is the first stroke of any masterpiece. If you ever wondered what materials you need to learn how to draw, you’ve come to the right place.

learn with us what a sketch is and what it’s for!

Definition of the sketch

It is actually not that complicated to explain what a sketch is. Some people

also know this term by the name of sketch or draft

so you may already have some idea about it.

Just like in writing, a sketch or draft

is a work in which you develop the preliminary ideas of a work that you intend to do later

. In particular, it is a fundamental support to learn how to draw characters. haven’t you ever heard of sketch drawings?

For others, it is a basic outline from which all the

necessary guidelines to carry out a project successfully


This definition of what a sketch is makes a lot of sense if we take into account that it is better to make mistakes practicing in a sketchbook than directly on a work.

The result we get when we work on a sketch is the following

is provisional, it is one of the different types of pencil drawing and serves as a guide to develop a work free of mistakes


Source: Unsplash

Characteristics of a sketch

Before you start conceptualizing and illustrating your own characters,

it is important that you take into account which are the characteristics of a sketch

don’t you recognize them at a glance?

If you are in front of a drawing but you doubt whether it is a sketch or not, we leave you a checklist of the points you should pay attention to. As you can imagine, it should not comply with the whole list, but with most of them:

They are elaborated very quickly and without taking into account the details, the important thing is to capture the idea on paper as soon as you can.

No complex tools are used to make them, the most common thing is that all artists make freehand sketches.

The main tool in any of the sketching examples we mentioned is the pencil. Particularly because it is easy and quick to erase when something needs to be corrected.

The sketch or sketch, as it is also known, is made without rigorousness in the techniques or dimensions of what is drawn.

Most of the time sketches are made with lines that overlap each other, this is one of its most important characteristics.

The important thing about sketch drawing methods is to highlight the essential elements of the planned work.

It is common for sketches to be full of erasures and corrections about what is being drawn. it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake!

Take into account all

these elements will allow you to develop your skills and your pencil drawing technique

a good idea to improve your drawing skills is to

study how the sketches of your favorite characters look like

you will surely find more than one point to take into account!

This is not to say that the sketch itself has no value, in fact there are many sketches of famous artists in art exhibitions and museums. The works of artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Edgar Degas are a perfect example of what a sketch is.

The characteristics of a sketch allow it to communicate and convey as much as a finished work, it is all about representing the ideas of what the artist wants to capture.

In some occasions

sketches are also considered as an independent work of art, and serve to study the capacity of observation and registration of ideas that an artist can have


Although the use of the sketch is found mainly in drawing and painting, the characteristics of a sketch are not limited to a particular profession, in fact we can also say that it can be used as a sketch.

is the basis of the work of fashion designers, illustrators, and architects, among other professions

but we will see this later!

In any of the cases it is the same thing, they are a preliminary phase to the realization of a work. The sketches do not contain all the details of the work, but

are a fundamental part of the process to develop ideas and correct mistakes

on the fly.

Source: Unsplash

At other times they are also used in painting workshops in which several artists participate. A master painter can make as many sketches as he can so that those who work with him have the necessary indications to carry out a work.

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to make a sketch,

there are some exercises for daily sketching that can be very useful for you

. For now, let’s explain what are the types of sketches and how you could use each of them.

Types of sketches

Now you know what a sketch is, but… What types of sketches are there? what is the purpose of each of them?

In any creative area, tools tend to have different uses depending on the purpose of who is using them, the case of the sketch is no exception.

There are several types of sketches, and each of them has a different level of complexity depending on the use they are given


Here’s what you need to know about the types of sketches and how to use them. pay close attention! Here are three types of sketches according to their level of detail:

1. what is a rough sketch?

Also known as a raff sketch, the rough sketch is the first step an artist takes when starting to create a work. In it, what

is to capture the ideas that one has without paying any attention to the details of design or composition.

To sum it up, we could say that the rough sketch is the basis on which we start to develop a work. From this, we will have the guide to follow the development of the project.

that is to say that we can consider a rough sketch to be the one we make on a napkin in a bar in a moment of inspiration!

Source: Unsplash

2. what is a comprehensive sketch?

This type of sketch is characterized by having a more defined structure with respect to the work to be done. Unlike the rough sketch,

it is drawn in more detail, taking into account some details that contribute to the realization of the work


In this type of sketch we can already use drawing tools that allow us to achieve with greater precision some more details than in the previous one, but without reaching the definition of a technical drawing.

If what you need is to go beyond the idea on the napkin, and explain to someone else what the essence of your project is, the comprehensive sketch will be your best ally!

3. what is a dummy sketch?

The dummy sketch

is the most advanced stage in the sketching of any idea

it is a type of sketch in which the quality of the strokes is more aligned with the final result of any work.

In this type of sketch we reach the highest level of detail that we have among the sketches. Some artists even use these drawings to describe the materials and techniques with which the project will be carried out.

remember that a sketch is not always just a drawing!

Sometimes it is the beginning of something much bigger.

Source: Unsplash

Now we tell you about some more types of sketches, which are used in very specific moments:

4. what is a sketch type sketch?

In a sketch sketch the elements that stand out are the shape and size of what is being drawn, so it is usually dimensioned with measurements. In the same way, the precision of the details or the termination is not taken into account. It is commonly related to the architectural sketch.

Later we will see the different uses of sketches, but always keep in mind that a sketch sketch sketch must be thought to scale, from the very beginning. So

its main function is to represent spaces and dimensions.

Source: Unsplash

5. what is a portrait sketch?

When you started reading this article about what is a portrait sketch, you probably had a person’s face in mind, and you were right! The portrait sketch is one of the most used sketches in the world of drawing and, generally, it is part of that group of sketches that is considered an art in itself.

This type of sketch is used by portrait artists,

it is mainly used to take note of the essential details of the face

particularly with regard to elements such as the gaze and the position of the head.

the portrait sketch is one of the first steps in drawing a face! Or as we said above, an art in itself. what would you use it for?

6. what is a structural sketch?

If what you need to know about what is a sketch is not for architecture and simple plans, but engineering and its large structures, then this is the type of sketch you are looking to learn.

In this type of sketch is in which we do care about accuracy and detail, as it must capture very important data on the construction or manufacture of products.

Uses of the sketch

We already told you above, when we defined what a sketch is, that this drawing technique has different applications in the visual world. do you want to know them? read on!

Design and arts

As we have already seen, a sketch can be a piece of art in itself. However, we see its greatest use in the beginnings of painting, sculpture and illustration projects that need an initial guide to be realized.

That is to say that a sketch is the first step to reach a more complex result. It is also widely used in the world of fashion design. Sketches are the ideal tool to transmit all the details to those who will be in charge of making the pieces on fabric.

Source: Unsplash

Architecture and interior design

Another great use of sketches, as we saw in the case of sketch and structural sketching, is in the world of architecture and interior design. It is not only used to create plans quickly and easily, but also to reflect the overall idea of the project. We can find interior design sketches even of a shopping mall and its urban planning.

Web development

The use of sketches is also present in the process prior to the layout of applications or websites. The famous UX designers will be the ones who will interpret the directives to design the interfaces and how it will behave with the user experience.

Source: Unsplash

Movies and TV

do you recognize what a storyboard is?

when shooting a commercial or a movie, it is necessary to make sketches of the scenes to be filmed. This way, not only the director has in mind what needs to be captured by the frame, but also the cameramen and even the art director.

Source: Unsplash

how to make a sketch?

To make a sketch it is not necessary to use professional drawing tools.

it is a fairly simple drawing, which can be developed freehand on a sheet of paper


If you already know what a sketch is, you will understand that what it is about is to quickly represent an idea, to rehearse a project that we have in mind but we do not yet know how to develop precisely. Of course not in the case of technical sketches or sketches!

All you have to do is to follow

our list of steps on how to make a sketch to start shaping your masterpieces


1. Keep in mind the idea

If you don’t know how to make a sketch, the first thing you need is

be clear about the idea you want to develop

. It doesn’t matter if you still don’t know all the characteristics and details of the work, remember that it is about building a work little by little until you get all the elements.

A great tip for this beginning stage of sketching is to visualize the object or person from different angles. If you are not sure exactly how to achieve one aspect of the drawing, you will surely find the solution by thinking from another point of view!

Source: Unsplash

2. Prepare materials to make a sketch

You should have everything you need to make a sketch, though to be honest,

a sheet of paper and a pencil are indispensable

and knowledge of some drawing techniques for beginners.

A recommendation for you to be able to work comfortably when making your sketch, is that

a suitable place with good lighting.

If you are the type of person who enjoys technology to the fullest, you may be interested in knowing how to make a digital drawing. With a digitizing tablet you can save time and resources, and the results are usually better when you have a full range of digital tools at your disposal.

If you plan to make a physical sketch, the best thing to do is to

you have several types of pencils and enough erasers.

to correct any detail. Do not worry about the initial result, remember that it is a rehearsal in which you will only develop your ideas.

Finally, in case you have a

model to copy, remember to position it in a strategic place

that allows you to capture the lights and shadows of the object. Otherwise,

concentrate on bringing down to reality that idea that you will turn into a sketch!

3. Make a pre-sketch

You already know that sketching is done freehand, no matter if you are working on paper or on a tablet to digitize, the techniques of artistic drawing do not vary much from one form to another. And as you read, before making a sketch, making a pre-sketch can be very helpful.

So, as a first step to make a sketch, we recommend you to try a very used technique to break the famous “blank sheet”. Try to associate the different parts of the drawing to geometric figures. In this way, you begin to capture the space and the direction that the parts of the drawing will have on the canvas.

Source: Unsplash

4. Start at the sides

Once you have translated your model into geometric shapes and understand how to approach your sketch, we recommend that you start drawing from the sides of the object or face. This way, if you make a mistake, it will be much easier to fix it.

Also, sketching from the sides allows you to understand a little more about the shape of the drawing and how it looks on the canvas. If possible, keep your eyes on the model and not so much on the sheet, so you can let your hand go and draw more freely.

Source: Unsplash

5. Draw the center and details

you’ve got the outlines of your sketch ready! It’s time to give it a little more body and detail, but don’t worry about being a perfectionist. Precisely, one of the characteristics of the sketch is that it should be simple and quick to do.

Play with proportions, lines and angles, you’ll see how your drawing comes to life!

6. Bring your digital sketch back to life

Nowadays, sketching in digital format is more common than you think. But there are also those who can’t tear themselves away from pencil and paper. Fortunately, this is not a problem!

For those who draw in a traditional way there are options to transfer a drawing to digital, so it’s worth reviewing them and determine which one best suits your needs.

In the case of using the tablet as a drawing tool, it is good that you have good programs to illustrate, no matter if it is Procreate or Sketchbook, the stylus will allow you to release the reins of your imagination.

The advantage of making a digital sketch is that you will be able to start working directly on what has already been done. Unlike traditional drawing, you will not have to start from scratch to develop your work, but you will be able to create from the strokes you have already sketched.

Source: Pixabay

Now you can talk properly about what a sketch is and how it’s made, and with this tool you are closer to reach

get the results you’ve always dreamed of for your artistic creations


The importance of the sketch is indisputable in the art world, without it it is likely that the great works we know would be a little far from the perfection and detail that characterizes them.

The sketches

give us an idea of how artists think

there are even collector’s books on sketch design techniques used by the great masters of art. and also all those disciplines that use a sketch to start their design or creative projects!

don’t forget to erase as many times as necessary, perfection is not the only possible horizon!

Leave a Comment