12 Tips to Get Better, If You’re Good at Drawing But Bad at Painting

It’s not a crazy thing that some artists can be good at drawing but bad at painting

It is actually pretty common as both require different types of training, practice and skills.

But what do you do when you want to stop sucking at painting and be as good at painting as you are at drawing?

You follow my 12 pro tips for getting better.

12 Pro Artist Tips To Get Better At Painting

If you’re already good at drawing, and want to get better at painting, then you’re in luck.

Getting better at painting if you can draw is easier than the other way around.

person learning to paint after being good at drawing

Getting better at painting involves a combination of practice, learning new techniques, and understanding the unique aspects of painting as a medium.

Here are some pro artist tips to help you improve:

#1 Draw something and apply a few paint colors to it

Sounds crazy but I used to make my own color by number paintings as a kid. I would trace my favorite fan art or movie star image and then apply layers of paint.

I would even apply shading with a pencil as I was good at it. After I would go over the pencil shading with a brush and paint. I’d apply a light layer and then blend it in.

It’s a simple technique but trust me it works. You are cross training your brain to paint the same way you draw.

Once you’re good at this technique, learning to paint properly is much easier.

#2 Practice Regularly

Just as with drawing, improvement in painting comes with consistent practice. Set aside dedicated time for painting and experiment with different styles and techniques.

#3 Study Color Theory

Understanding color theory is crucial for painting. Learn about primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, as well as concepts like hue, saturation, value, and how colors interact with each other.

#4 Experiment with Different Mediums

Try different painting mediums like watercolor, acrylics, or oils. Each has its own characteristics and techniques. Exploring these can help you find the one that best suits your style.

#5 Learn from Tutorials and Classes

There are numerous online tutorials, workshops, and art classes that can provide structured learning. These resources often offer step-by-step guidance and tips from experienced artists.

#6 Study the Work of Masters

Analyze paintings by renowned artists. Pay attention to their use of color, brushwork, and composition. Try to replicate some of these works to understand the techniques used.

#7 Get Feedback

Share your work with others and be open to constructive criticism. Feedback from fellow artists, teachers, or art communities can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement.

#8 Focus on Composition and Perspective

Utilize your drawing skills to plan your compositions and perspectives before you begin painting. Good composition is key to a successful painting.

#9 Experiment with Brushes and Tools

The type of brush and tools you use can significantly affect your painting. Experiment with different sizes and shapes to understand their effects.

#10 Keep a Sketchbook

Continue to draw regularly. Sketching ideas can be a great way to plan out paintings and keep your drawing skills sharp.

#11 Patience and Persistence

Remember that mastering painting, like any art form, takes time and patience. Be persistent and don’t get discouraged by initial challenges.

#12 Mindset Shift

Embrace the fluidity and unpredictability of paint as a medium, which can be quite different from the control often experienced in drawing.

By integrating these practices into your artistic journey, you can pretty quickly bridge the gap between your drawing skills and your dream of becoming better at painting.

How can it be that someone is good at drawing bad at painting? 

Painting and drawing are two completely different forms of visual art making. 

They use different media, different tools and the artist uses a different approach to create each.

So it makes sense that an artist might understand the mechanics of one without fully understanding the other. 

When an artist draws a picture, that picture represents the outline of a figure or some type of object that is created by connecting lines around space. 

On the other hand, a painting is created by applying color to a solid surface, such as canvas, in masses that can be representational or non-representational, as is the case with abstract painting. 

In painting, dimensionality is created by the painting’s values of tightness and darkness. 

In drawing, the darkest light must always be lighter than the lightest shadow, and these things are created by using lines, either densely situated, or spaced farther apart to make lighter areas. 

 A painting can sometimes be mapped out by using a drawing as a guideline, but it transforms into something completely different by the time it is finished.

Therefore, someone can be a skilled drawer, yet not understand the principles behind applying color to a canvas in a different representational form. 


Painting requires a completely different perception than that used for drawing. 

Its goal is to translate a color story from a three dimensional form into only two dimensions by creating shapes created from color to create masses on a canvas. 

The artist strives to control the color and its values (shades from light to dark) to create illusions of masses in space.  Learning how to do this takes great patience and a lot of practice.  

Drawing requires perception of three dimensional objects into a linear interpretation using intersecting lines and illusions of specified spaces. 

Its tools are instruments such as pens and ink, pencils,  colored pencils on various surfaces. 

Building art through drawing and painting

When an artist paints, the base layer is usually one consistent color. 

Then, he or she uses other colors to give the illusion of space either receding or coming forward. 

Highlights can create the illusion of an object coming forward, while lowlights, or darker colors can give the impression that the object is farther away in space. 

When drawing, the artist can also use a building technique, but can also use simple lines, depending on how three dimensional he or she wants the rendering to appear. 

While a painter might add white paint to make a nose on a face seem more three dimensional, one who is drawing might simply leave that part of the drawing surface blank and allow the color of the paper to show through. 

Lines called hatchmarks made with closely set vertical and intersecting horizontal lines can be used with pencil to give the illusion of shadows, while in a painting, a dark color would completely fill a space in graduating values  to represent the natural light. 

Materials used

A person can master drawing by using pencils, pens and ink, inked brushes and so forth, but might not be able to recreate his or her drawing in the form of a painting, because a different set of tools is required. 

Paint itself, is pigment that is suspended in oil or synthetic oil or a water base, and it responds differently on the surface to which it is applied than the graphite of a pencil does. 

Mastering the use of a pencil or a pen does not necessarily imply that the skilled drawer can automatically go from the pencil to the paintbrush loaded with pigment. 

The applications are completely different.  

Problem solving

Another reason why an artist might be a good at drawing bad at painting is the issue of problem solving.

A mistake made during a pencil drawing, for example, can usually be resolved by use of an eraser. 

A mistake made in a painting, however, must be solved in a completely different way, using paint or various mediums to create texture or smoothness, as desired. 

They require completely different skill sets. 

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