The purpose of his drawings varied wildly, from hundreds of study sketches for later paintings, such as his work in Montmatre, to full-scale pastels portraits and landscapes akin to some of the best work from his Impressionist colleague, Monet. Degas for that matter was also a master of pastels. Thousands of etchings were also produced directly from Pissarro's work, many of which were published in the early 20th century. Some remain for sale today at around a few thousand pounds through the artist's extended family. Etchings themselves have long since been used as a means to broadening an artist's reputation and also providing supplementary income without having to produce more paintings or drawings.

During this period many artists would travel around with small sketchbooks which enabled them to produce work on the go. Turner's sketchbooks are particularly famous whilst Pissarro tended to concentrate on simple sketches of local people. There are many figurative drawings of local peasants and town folk, often with just a few lines of detail. In some examples he would put several different portraits together on the same page in order to save space. Whilst these are very much in demand in the present day, it is important to remember that the artist himself never intended these types of work to be considered presentable artworks in their own right. It was the much more detailed pieces, often with a greater variety of colour, that were seen more on a level with his complex paintings.

Examples such as Two Women Carrying Vases on their Heads with Studies of two Women in Profile and Studies of Figures, a Cow in Profile and a Horse Pulling a Cart provide a good summary of much of his study drawing work. With multiple incomplete figures as the artist looked to perfect his figurative skills, prior to starting a more complex scene in oils. A Hut in a Mountainous Landscape with a Plough and Figures and Bord d'une Rivière then cover some of his landscape drawings. These could be constructed outside without any great planning or setup. At a later date he could then produce an oil painting from these within his own studio.