Painting vs. Drawing: Any Difference?

One thing beginner artists have in mind are questions regarding painting and drawing: are they really different? What sets them apart from each other? Which should I learn first? Which is harder to learn? This article will enlighten you by answering all those questions. Continue reading this article if you wanna learn more!

Beautiful painting on a table with painting tools

It is very normal among beginner artists to ask questions like the ones from the opening paragraph. It is a good indication that you are curious and willing to learn more–this can help you in improving your artwork in general, as well as finding inspirations. Not only that, drawing can enhance your painting skills and painting can enhance your drawing skills, so it’s a win-win situation.


One obvious thing that makes painting and drawing different is that painting uses paint and brushes, while drawing uses pencils, pens, charcoal, and markers mainly. This article is a comprehensive guide about painting and drawing, answering basic FAQs that can help you as a beginner artist. A lot of people may say that they are very similar to each other because well, they both fall on visual arts. But actually, there are vast differences among the two apart from the materials required in order to accomplish painting and drawing.


Question #1: What’s the Difference between Painting and Drawing?

This question can be clearly answered by defining these two terms. Painting is a “wet” media focused on colors and form. It is the application of colors by the use of different mediums such as acrylic, watercolor, oil, fresco or tempera to a flat surface like paper, wood or canvas. Although there is an exception to the adjective “wet,” an artwork is also considered as painting if it fully uses pastels.

Painter with different colored paint

Meanwhile, drawing is a “dry” media focused on lines and shades. It is the art of sketching objects and figures by means of lines and shapes; through values and shades, a drawing can be given life and depth. Drawing is usually done on paper and sometimes even on canvas if you want to have an outline on your painting. Thus, it commonly uses materials like pencils, inked pen, markers and charcoal.

A person sketching in a book

Question #2: Which is Harder to Learn: Painting or Drawing?

There is a famous misconception that painting is something like a higher type of visual art. However, it is actually not the case. You need to consider that behind every good painter are great hands for drawing. Painters like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt are actually very good at sketching. 

Now, in regards to which is harder between the two, it’s actually a matter of personal preference. Some artists are great at painting but not at drawing, while some artists are great at drawing but not at painting. It all comes down to which you prefer to learn first and which MEDIUM ARE YOU MORE COMFORTABLE TO WORK WITH AND WHICH TYPE OF ART YOU ARE AIMING TO CREATE. 

In terms of preparation, painting is a bit harder compared to drawing because of the meticulous preparation before you start the actual painting process. First, you need to prime your canvas which can be tricky for beginners. However, as an alternative, you can use a pre-primed canvas to spare you time and possible failures. Then, it all depends on the medium that you’ll work with. Acrylic paint is easier to work with for beginners compared to oil paint and watercolor.

Oil paint requires pre-mixing and it’s also possibly toxic according to research. Watercolor, on the other hand, is unpredictable because water is not easily tamed or controlled. Drawing, on the other hand, requires less preparation compared to painting. You only need to prepare your working surface and pencil. Thus, it’s only difficult in a sense that you need to apply plenty of techniques in order to make your artwork visually appealing through depth and illusion.

A cat drawn with pencil

Watercolor painting of a lady

Question #3: Which among the Two Should I Learn First?

Again it all comes down to personal preference and the type of artwork you want to accomplish in the end. As mentioned earlier, it is worth noting that great painters are also skilled in drawing. We may not know which they learned first, but it is safe to assume that they used their knowledge of both to create stunning pieces of art.

Although if you want to be a great painter, you should learn how to draw as well because drawing is the foundation of paintings. Take Vincent van Gogh as an example. He actually started sketching sceneries before he decided that will pursue the art of painting. Usually, before painters do their underpainting, they put a boceto (a preliminary sketch done in the canvas) so that they’ll have a guide during the painting process. Moreover, painting requires precision so what’s a better way to learn this important skill than through drawing? 

Fantasy architecture drawn with hand

Final Thoughts

You need to consider your personal preference and objective before you weigh the decision on which among the two to learn first. In conclusion, both drawing and painting are two different forms of visual art that may overlap one another, but that is because they’re co-related with each other. Thus, as a recommendation, concentrate on one area first before proceeding to the other to avoid confusion. This will also help you enhance your skill efficiently when you focus on either painting or drawing once at a time.

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