Drawing is the act of defining (or delineating) the outlines of a figure against a background, using any of a wide variety of tools and techniques. It generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface. Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools which simulate the effects of these are also used. An artist who excels in drawing is referred to as a draftsman or draughtsman.
Drawing is distinct from "painting", in which delineated areas are "filled in" with a color, or pattern. The terms "drawing" and "painting" are often confused, because the same tool can perform both tasks. But the operations are distinct, as the designers of graphics software applications recognized when they distinguished "path" and "fill" tools.
Most drawings are representational, depicting objects or scenes which the artist views, remembers, or imagines. They may be realistic to the point of lifelike resemblance (e.g. traditional portraits), looser approximations of reality (e.g. sketches), highly stylized (e.g. cartoons, caricatures), or abstract (e.g. automatic drawing, entoptic graphomania).
The medium is the means by which ink, pigment, or color are delivered onto the drawing surface. Most drawing media are either dry (e.g. graphite, charcoal, pastel, Conté, silverpoint), or water-based (marker, pen and ink). Watercolor pencils can be used dry like ordinary pencil, then moistened with a wet brush to get various painterly effects. Very rarely, artists have drawn with (usually decoded) invisible ink.
Paper comes in a variety of different sizes and qualities, ranging from newspaper grade for practice up to high quality and relatively expensive paper sometimes sold as individual sheets. Papers can vary in texture, hue, acidity, and strength when wet. Smooth paper is good for rendering fine detail, but a more "toothy" paper will hold the drawing material better. Thus a more coarse material is useful for producing deeper contrast.
For pen and ink work, typing paper is often used for practice drawings, but heavier paper holds up better. Bristol board makes a hard surface that is especially good for ink or fine detailed graphite drawing. Coldpressed watercolor paper is sometimes favored for ink drawing due to its texture. Tracing vellum is often used for experimenting on top of a pencil drawing, prior to committing a technique to the final page.
Various tools are routinely used in the process of drawing. These include a pencil sharpener, sandpaper, kneaded eraser, blending stumps, and chamois. Other tools that sometimes prove useful are tracing paper, a circle compass, ruler, frisket film, fixative, and drafting tape. The use of an easel or slanted table reduces the distorting effects of perspective.