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How to Improve Your Art: The 6 Basic Fundamentals That You Should Know

You’ll keep coming back to the basics of art as you learn more about it. There are many basic parts of art that don’t change no matter what form or medium you use.

The six basic rules of good art will be talked about in this piece, along with some career paths that depend on these rules.

What are the six most important things in art?

The “rules” that most artists follow are the six foundations of art. Anatomy, perspective, form and structure, lighting and shade, color, and composition are all rules or parts that will affect how your art looks as a whole.

These parts come to life when they meet and interact with each other. This helps artists make work that is creative, realistic, and expressive.


When drawing people, animals, or plants, it’s important to know how the bodies work.

Being aware of the human body’s proportions, joints, and other parts helps you draw, sculpt, or animate poses and moves that look more real, like walking, jumping over a fence, or picking up something from a table.

The 6 fundamentals of art every good artist must learn

The same is true if you want to make art that includes animals or plants: you need to know how their bodies work.


When artists draw something on paper or a screen, they use perspective to make it look like it has three dimensions. For instance, the rules of perspective say that things get smaller as you move away from them.

So, if you’re drawing a stage from the point of view of a speaker in a theater, the front row of chairs will be the biggest, and the back rows will get smaller as you go.

  • When you use a basic viewpoint in your writing, you can choose from the following:
  • One-point (or linear) perspective: making up a “vanishing point” where all the items come together.
  • Arial (or atmospheric) perspective: To make things look farther away, the contrast, saturation, and sharpness of things in the background get less intense.

The Shape and Structure

All things are made up of three basic shapes: squares, circles, and triangles (or cubes, spheres, and triangular prisms in three dimensions). Shapes and forms give flat drawings more lifelike quality and make them look like they take up space in both width and depth.

Think of early sketches by artists for storyboards for animated movies. Instead of drawing every shape of the character’s body, the artist often uses a cylinder and a sphere to show them. After that, in later forms of their storyboards, they start adding more realistic human features on top of these basic shapes.

Concept art and illustrations also often begin as rough sketches or drafts of a number of basic shapes. Later, the artist adds more information and definitions to the shapes to make the work more recognizable.

Light and Shadow

Applying lighting and shadow ideas to your drawings is another way to make flat things on a page or screen look more real. How the light hits a character or object and where its shadow hits can also be used to make it look like the character or object is moving or that the viewer is looking at it from a different point of view.

The 6 fundamentals of art every good artist must learn

Shadows and lighting are closely linked. A light on an item, like a lamp hitting one side of a character’s face, will cast a shadow behind it or on the other side of what it’s shining on. Digital painters can add feelings or themes to their work by using lighting and shadows in their coloring to make the drawings look more real and give them more depth.


Color knowledge is the last basic art skill you need to have. The colors you choose and the emotions behind them are both part of this.

Painters, whether they use brushes or a computer, should know how to mix colors. They should know the color wheel and how to get the exact shade they want to match a scene or set the mood or tone for their work.

There are three main groups that color theory can be put into:

  • Hue is the position of the color on the color wheel. It can help set the main idea of a piece of art.
  • The amount of how intense, bright, or rich a color is is called its saturation.
  • In this case, “value” means how light or dark a color is, which shows how much light an item absorbs or reflects.


Composition is how you put together and arrange different parts of your art, like lines, forms, colors, values, space, structure, and textures, and how they all work together to make a whole effect or look. Composition is important in all kinds of art, like writing, photography, music, drawing, animation, and VFX mixing.

You might want to think about these art rules or standards for your composition:

The rule of thirds says to picture your work as a 3×3 grid. The main point of your design should be where the lines meet. If you don’t want your design to be too symmetrical, this also helps keep it that way.

Simplification: You can use the idea of simplification when a specific reality is not needed. Say you’re drawing a crowd behind the main character in a cartoon movie. The characters in the background don’t need to be drawn with as much attention to detail as the main character. They can be drawn as people-shaped shadows.

According to the rule of odds, things that are odd numbers look more real to our brains than things that are even numbers. In other words, drawing a flower vase with five flowers instead of four will make it look more real, at least to our brains.

Why You Should Learn the Basics of Art?

If you want to make a living as an artist, learning the basics will help you with almost everything you make. The six key ideas above can be thought of as the rules of physics for the creative world.

The basics of art are rules that you can use in all of your work, no matter what medium you use. Even though some art will go against these rules, these are usually the things that characters, tools, settings, and storytelling in artworks can’t be changed.

You can use the basics of art to learn a lot of different types of art, like digital drawing, concept art, 2D animation, 3D animation, and 3D modeling.

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