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How to Draw Realistically

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

Ever thought about buying original art online? You might have stumbled upon realistic art online or hand-drawn art for sale that looked almost like photographs. This drawing technique is called realism and the perfection of the art lies in the details.

There are 8 crucial elements of realistic paintings and we will first define realism.

What is Realism?

Realism or naturalism is depicting art truthfully without supernatural or artificial elements. It is an art without much stylization. Realism is a precise, accurate, and detailed representation of a person, animal, scene, or object.

Realism in painting is the accuracy of structure and accuracy in brightness. Plus, a realistic painting often resembles a photo. Beginning in the early 19th century, this art form rejects Romanticism and sticks to accuracy and truthfulness.

Realistic style is all about making a drawing realistic, almost as if the subject is alive. Now let’s get into the fundamentals of achieving this effect

8 Elements of Realistic Drawing

There are 8 key elements that underlie the foundation of realism: brightness, contrast, edges, temperature, saturation, precision, transition, and colors. Once you master these elements, you'll be able to create spectacular realistic art online.


Brightness determines the darkness and lightness of a painting. The dark and light values help you create a play of shadows and light to have a three-dimensional illusion. It is what helps you create depth in your drawing. Observe the intricate details of your subjects’ details and textures to get the brightness right.


Contrast is ensuring your dark areas are dark and light areas are light. Contrast plays a key role in depicting depth and realism in your painting. Only when there is a range in the values can you let your subject stand out from the background.


When you observe nature, you realize that objects don't have contour lines. They don't have sharp outlines like cartoons and animation but they do have edges.

You'll notice soft and sharp edges on various objects. Sharp edges are prominent and in-focus, whereas soft edges are out-of-focus and appear distant. Soft edges often appear fuzzy and not very clear.

Color Temperature

The temperature of the painting determines how warm or cool the colors are. Blue, green, and purple colors are cool colors, whereas red, yellow, and orange are warm colors. The color temperature of a painting plays a crucial role in making your work realistic. Juxtaposing warm and cool colors adds depth and, contrast.


Saturation determines the richness and sharpness of color shade. It also shows if the color shade is dull or gray. You need to gauge the intensity of a color in nature to mix the right amount of black, gray, white, or brown to reduce saturation. Suppose you need a pure color; you don't mix anything to it. However, some amount of saturation is required to make your drawing appear realistic.


Precision is the key element to a realistic technique. You need to create a precise and accurate sketch to achieve a realistic drawing. Your anatomy proportions, shape detailing, and attention to detail is important for precision drawing.


Transitions are changes in an object or area, such as brightness level, colors, color temperatures, texture, or edges.

Suppose you have an apple in front of you. Different parts of the apple have various levels of brightness, saturation, and texture. You see that a single object has several transitions.

You achieve realism in paintings when you get the transitions right. Only then will you get a painting that's not flat or dull.


Your subjects can have various color pigmentation. One way to depict realism is to observe and get the colors right. Brightness level, saturation, and color temperatures can all change the color, so practice mixing your colors right to get your desired results g.

Final Thoughts

Realism is all about portraying a photographic moment as real as possible and bringing life to your drawing. If you want inspiration for your work or if you want to buy original art online, you can consider scrolling through Ino Chang's work.

Ino Chang creates hand-drawn art for sale and portrays realism in his work. He does portrait, landscape, and wildlife paintings. Ino uses colored pencils, charcoal, acrylic paints, and other mediums to create realistic drawings. You can shop his art online and enjoy his digital prints too. Plus, his art is available on lifestyle products.

Hope this adds to your artistic toolkit and inspires you to draw more. Try using these 8 elements and add some life to your drawings.

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