What is the difference between a drawing, painting, and digital artwork? 3 Simple Guidelines

May 3, 2021

We all know what art is but not all of us know exactly how it is created. Art can be produced by a bunch of different methods. What's the difference between a painting or a drawing; or digital art? If this has you curious, this is your guide to picking the right kind of art and artist.

Let's start with digital art. Your portrait or custom art is produced by an artist using a computer. The "canvas" is the computer desktop. The "paint brush" is often a mouse or digital pen. The digital art made by a MadeMay artist takes time, attention to detail, and some technical skills. The software used to make your art can be complex and has a variety of tools available to use. Having so many tools and knowing exactly how to use them takes a large amount of knowhow. However, the benefit is that there are no expensive papers, canvases, and or drawing tools to buy as supplies. MadeMay digital artists are experienced professionals with the technical and artistic skills that will be sure to create artwork you can feel great about.

Example of Digital Artwork

Next, what really is a painting? The most basic determination is how that medium is applied. If a brush is used, it is a painting. It doesn't get more simple than that. Some paintings are on canvas, others are on paper, or a painting can be on an object. There are also a variety of different kinds of paints that can be used. MadeMay artists specialize in watercolor, acrylic, and oil paintings to name a few. 

To dive deeper, these three categories have extra differences. Understanding these differences may be helpful in finding the perfect artist to make your portrait or custom artwork. Watercolor paintings are done on thick paper designed to absorb moisture. The paint can bleed colors into each other when applied. This gives a "soft" and light feel to the art produced. Acrylic paints can be blended or used with definitive lines and shapes. The work is often done on canvas. However, acrylic paint can be applied to most any kind of surface. The paint is usually flat in texture but can have additives applied to introduce a texture. The last category mentioned is oil paint. This kind of paint tends to have a higher cost in supplies. It is almost exclusively done on a canvas. Using oil paints takes a different kind of expertise. Oil paints are thick, build layers and texture quickly, and blend together frequently since it takes a larger amount of time for the paint itself to dry. We are confident that you will find the perfect artist to create whatever kind of painting speaks to you and your portrait or custom art needs at MadeMay!

Example of Acrylic Painting

Lastly, let's take a look at drawings. The simplest way to determine if it is a drawing is that the tool used to apply the art is anything other than a brush. Drawings can be done with pens, markers, scratch tools, chalk, or pencils. A drawing can take a considerable amount of time but can be very rich in detail. Think of painting a room in your house. When you use a brush to paint a wall, there is more control and detail. Painting the wall with a roller offers the opportunity to blend the paint and cover an area much faster. The comparison here is that doing a drawing could be related to painting that wall with a brush. Whereas, a painting is closer to using a roller. This is only in context of time spent. It does not take into consideration the unique skill set of all artists, cost of materials, and or dry time. Some drawings are actually meant to be simple or "loose". These can include illustrations and sketches which require the artist to be very deliberate in how each line and shape form the subject matter. Whatever your choice in a drawing, you will not find a better group of experienced and talented artists available to do your portrait or custom art than MadeMay artists.

Example of Drawing


This is, by no means, the only way art can be produced. They are merely the most common and familiar types. MadeMay is here to help you find what will make your art needs met. Our top-rated artists around the world know what they are doing and love what they do. Whether you are looking for a custom portrait painting of someone you love, a drawing of your house, or any custom artwork piece - our artists look forward to helping you get exactly what you are looking for!