What Is Observational Drawing ?

Posted on : Mar 27, 2019

Observational drawing is exactly what it sounds like: drawing via observation. By simply looking at the subject and drawing what is presented to the eye, the artist gains solid perceptual skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as eliminating flawed preconceptions about the appearance of objects.

Beyond reality

Artist should try to sketch beyond the reality of the moment and should try to jumble with the truth a bit to give an extra impression on your work. An artist starts first with his or her eye and then only moves on to the imaginative aspect of it. That is what becoming an observational artist is about.

Specific physical traits

You can get your inspiration for observational drawings from any source like mundane objects of our daily lives; also observe minute details while drawing like curved nose, hairstyles, tattoos, fashion accessories and try to create them on canvas while painting human character.

Shades and their impact

It is time to look at objects in terms of how light plays on them and how the shadows are formed. This is a crucial aspect of the observational artist that you will have to develop. A small change in body language can change the whole attitude of the character for E.G big and broad eyes can give impact of an angry character

Understand the importance of outline: Not just the detail of an object but the way it is outlined is also of extremely important and artists have to learn to give devotion to it. It is a matter of the mind recording impressions with the eye and the hand reproducing it.

Nature of light

Observational art ideas should ideally kick start with black and white and then proceed further to colors. But no matter whether you are working with colors or in monochrome or just black and white,artist should understand importance of shades and lights

Tension and relaxation

As an observational artist, try to strike perfect balance between tension and relaxation in your observational drawing, which is one of the things that bring life into the form. Artist should know how to balance between tension and relaxation as they draw many images but if their body is in tension then the output of their artwork will always come out to be stiff and rigid


Acting is all about communicating emotions, not only body language. At any given point, the human form is involved in ‘acting out’, or communicating emotion. For e.g. if a human character is in anger then his neck muscles will stretch out .Thus while working on observational drawing, artist should always observe other facial and muscular expressions & replicate the same on his / her canvas