Fundamental stuff in visual art I wish I knew

Hi! You want to go into art and you hear words described as ‘art language’ but can’t seem to get your head around it, well, I’m here to help.

Now that you have been inspired to take part in visual arts for instance painting, you have scrolled through lovely art on social media, followed your fave artists,or maybe not. There is still a bunch of things you need to be familiar with. Keeping them in mind can be of help as you grow to the level of a pro.

This is a bunch of visual art fundamentals I wish I knew as a young beginner artist. It would have left me with lesser mistakes — that I ended up making in earlier artworks.

There are a lot of materials out there by the PROS on visual art for every topic, so, I will be introducing these terms and topics. If I have a another post that discusses it extensively I will link to that post. If there are other websites that discusses a topic at length, as well, I will drop their links. It’s about learning and I want to provide you with the materials to get it.

Color theory
Color wheel showing warm and cool colours
  • saturation: Refers to how intense or rich a colour is. When you mix a colour with another, it tends to be less saturated than before. Look at the colour wheel.
  • value : refers to how dark or white a thing is. You see this mostly in shading. Value goes hand in hand with shadow and tint. We tend to darken a colour (that’s apart from changing the hue a little bit) when we are shading, the value of that colour is darker than before. When a colour gets lighter, it seems like it is fading away.
  • Hue: basically the colours on the color wheel
    — Warm and cool colours – reference color wheel. In art, both warm and cool colours are used in artwork to achieve contrast, it makes the artwork more appealing or it can serve as a way to attract the viewer’s eye to an object. For instance, use a picture.

Don’t pay excess attention to this. I’ve found out that when I pay too much attention to sticking with ‘the rules of colour theory’, it sometimes comes out too rigid, no exploration of different shades because I’m trying to stick to what I perceive would be accepted, and it just takes out the fun off of colouring. To an extent pick whatever colours you want to. However when the  colours seem to be off together, then you know your choice of colours, their values or how saturated they are is what is wrong.


Perspective comes to play when you try to draw a three dimensional object (the object has a height, width/breadth and depth) on to a two-dimensional surface, for example, a canvas.
Perspective in a photograph. Canva photos

You are trying to create an illusion of depth. Two-way perspective was a bit complex to me — sometimes, it didn’t look realistic and that made me feel bad😔. However, with a couple of practices, I got better. I found out that if you weren’t getting it right, it was best to use perspective lines.

Artist network wrote a good article on how to draw in perspective. There’s also this quite interesting article on When to use different perspectives


I really underestimated the need for variety of tools, not a lot, just the essential. I had a very limited set of brushes and that didn’t work well. I thought brushes were brushes, no matter the type (I’m self taught, don’t go hard on me 😩) For a traditional artist (that’s one that applies paint on a canvas, their tools can be held, the paint can be felt) we know his tools will be:

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • A sketchbook
  • Canvas
  • Paint brushes
  • An Easel

Tools for example, different sets  and types of paint brrushes help you achieve your desired shapes and when adding texture. We know that for you to paint a tree, a fan brush is recommended. Same thing with digital art. When painting digitally, there are different brushes to use at your disposal and they all give a different look. It’s really good to change your brush while painting so you wouldn’t make repetitive brush strokes.
That’s why I really like autodesk sketchbook (this is not an ad). There are a lot of free brushes to try out if you decide to do digital art. Also, some cool artists make their brush designs available for purchase. So, there, tools!

Characters (anatomy)

Characters are the main conveyors of the message in an artwork. They may take a human or animal form.
Teach me how to play art by Idoroenyen

Starting out my character drawings were a bit messy because I didn’t bother to master anatomy. If you are going to be drawing characters close up you will need to learn anatomy to make it as realistic as possible. Even those who draw figures in an abstract way need to know the basics.


In photoshop and most digital art programmes, you will find things like overlay, lighten, screen, multiply, darken, glow. These are photoshopping effects that digital artists use to add life into their artwork. It’s not a must to use it, it just make things pop… That’s If you properly use it. There are tons of tutorials out there for you to watch. Some of these give similar outcomes like overlay and screen for example. They both lighten the colour underneath. However, screen leaves it lighter, like a higher tint.

In this illustration on top, we can see how these effects work. It’s in the shading of trees and where the sunlight hits surface of things. This is part of a wallpaper collection I’m working on. Some of them will be used for giveaways on my Instagram page, so stick around 🙂.

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