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Drawing vs. Map: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
A drawing is an art piece depicting anything imaginable, while a map is a scaled representation of geographical areas.

Key Differences

A drawing is a visual art form created by marking a surface with various tools and techniques. It can represent real or imaginary subjects, depending on the artist's intent. A map, on the other hand, is a symbolic depiction emphasizing relationships between elements of space, typically representing physical geography. Both require skill and precision, but while drawings are often subjective, maps aim for objective accuracy.
When discussing the purpose, drawings are primarily artistic, meant to express, communicate or entertain. They can be abstract or realistic and can convey an array of emotions and ideas. Maps serve a practical function, providing navigation and geographic information. They are essential tools for travel, urban planning, and education, focusing on delivering clear and specific data about a location.
In terms of creation, a drawing can be crafted using a variety of mediums such as pencils, ink, or charcoal, and does not necessarily have to follow rules of scale or perspective. Maps are created based on survey data and must adhere to scale, legend, and directional indicators to be useful. While a drawing may be the product of imagination, a map is a product of measurement.
Consider the audience for both: a drawing may be intended for anyone who appreciates art, whereas a map is targeted toward those needing geographical orientation. A drawing invites personal interpretation and emotional response; a map requires reading skills specific to cartography, including an understanding of scale, symbols, and topography.
The language of a drawing is universal, often transcending verbal communication with its imagery. A map, while also visual, uses a specific set of symbols and terms that must be understood to interpret its information. Both drawings and maps are forms of communication, but they speak to their audiences in fundamentally different ways.

Comparison Chart


An art piece representing any subject.
A scaled representation of geographic areas.


To express or convey artistic vision.
To provide navigation and location information.


Uses artistic mediums without fixed scale.
Requires precise scale and symbols.


Subjective and open to viewer's response.
Objective with specific reading skills.


Can be abstract or realistic.
Always a scaled-down depiction of reality.

Intended Audience

Art appreciators and general public.
Navigators, planners, and geographers.

Drawing and Map Definitions


A picture or diagram made with a pencil, pen, or crayon rather than paint.
The child's drawing of the family hung proudly on the fridge.


To plan or arrange in detail.
The general mapped out the strategy for the upcoming campaign.


The act or skill of making pictures or diagrams.
She took up drawing as a hobby to express her creativity.


A diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features.
We used a map to hike through the national park without getting lost.


A graphic representation by lines of an object or idea.
His drawing of the concept made the explanation much clearer.


A function or expression that associates each element of a given set with one or more elements of a second set.
The mathematical map indicated a clear correlation between the sets.


A method of winning a contest or lottery where the winner is selected at random.
They held a drawing to see who would get the tickets to the game.


To make a survey of (an area of land) to produce a map.
Early explorers mapped the coastlines of the new world for future voyagers.


The selection or making of a design or plans.
The architect’s drawing for the new house was approved by the client.


To represent or reflect something in detail.
The study aimed to map the gene locations responsible for the disease.


The act or an instance of drawing.


A representation, usually on a plane surface, of a region of the earth, intended primarily to provide information about the relative location or nature of features within that region.


The art of representing objects or forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines.


A similar representation of a region of the sky or of a celestial object
A map of the constellations of the southern hemisphere.


What is a drawing?

A drawing is an illustration created by making lines on a surface.

What is the primary purpose of a drawing?

To convey artistic expression or ideas visually.

Are drawings always detailed?

No, drawings range from simple sketches to detailed illustrations.

What information does a map typically contain?

Maps often include scales, symbols, and directions.

What’s the difference between a drawing and a map?

A drawing is art, while a map is a precise representation of geography.

Is drawing a natural talent or a learned skill?

It can be both; some people have an innate talent, others improve through practice.

What are common tools for drawing?

Pencils, pens, markers, and charcoal are common drawing tools.

How are maps helpful?

Maps provide guidance for navigation and understanding geographical spaces.

Are there different types of maps?

Yes, including topographical, political, climate, and thematic maps, among others.

Can drawings have scale?

Yes, especially in technical drawings like blueprints.

Can a drawing be a map?

Yes, if it accurately represents geographic information.

What defines a map?

A map is a visual representation of an area, showing its features at scale.

Can maps be considered art?

While functional, some maps are also appreciated for their aesthetic qualities.

Do digital maps count as maps?

Yes, they are modern representations of geographic data.

Is cartography the same as drawing?

No, cartography is the science and art of map-making, which may involve drawing skills.

Are maps always accurate?

They aim to be, but can be outdated or simplified for specific uses.

Can a drawing be abstract?

Yes, unlike maps, drawings can be completely abstract.

Do artists use maps in their drawings?

Yes, some artists incorporate maps into their artwork for various conceptual reasons.

Do maps require a legend?

Yes, to explain symbols and scales used on the map.

What’s a mental map?

It’s a person’s internal representation of the world or part of it.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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