Studies and sketches leading up to a final illustration (montage)

The Difference Between Drawing and Illustrating

Why I Don’t Illustrate How I Draw

Tom Froese
7 min readMay 12, 2021


This is a drawing:

A drawing of a runner in the desert (2021). Mechanical pencil on paper (digitized).

And this is an illustration:

An illustration of a runner in the desert (2021). Digital illustration.

You might like one more than the other. You might see one as being more artistic than the other. Or showing more skill.

It depends on what you mean, and what you are looking for in an “art” piece.

The first image is a drawing from a photo. I drew my friend Ryan, running the Javelina Jundred, an ultra marathon through the Arizonian desert. I looked at the photo and draw what I saw. There is definitely a certain amount of skill involved. I had to know how to hold my pencil. I had to make decisions about which details to draw, and which to leave out. I had to measure proportions with my eyes. There is also a certain amount of stylization. While the drawing is representational, it does take certain liberties with shape and line. There is also a velocity to the line quality itself. All in all, the drawing, while not necessarily the…



Tom Froese

Illustrator. Creatively Empowering Teacher/Speaker. Represented by Making Pictures/UK & Dot Array/USA. Top Teacher on @skillshare.