Do you have a clear picture of what you want to draw in your head when you begin?
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  1. #1
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    Do you have a clear picture of what you want to draw in your head when you begin?

    Do you have a clear picture of what you want to draw in your head when you begin?

    I find it very hard to draw what I plan to, even if I know I can. So I tend to just draw a lot and then work from the ones which better and develop them. And over the years I've realise that it's not so much that I can't draw what I see in my hea, it's that the image in my head wasn't very clear or detailed to begin with.

    I worry a lot that it's just one of those natural abilities you either have or don't have, to be able to visulise something clearly in your head.

    Are there any practise techniques to train this?

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    True progress means matching the world to the vision in our heads.
    But we always change the vision instead.
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    Mostly. Though it may be slightly "blurry", like for example I know there will be trees in the background but I don't see them in my head clearly. I generally see the main part/idea/feeling in my head (like the characters) and then work on the rest while thumbnailing and drawing. And of course even the main parts will change if I feel it works better some other way that I noticed/came up with while drawing.
    And personally I have a kinda hard time drawing or even doodling if I don't already have the idea in my head in some form.

    As for practice, you could try that old "draw a thing from reference, then draw it again from memory/the image in your head"?
    I myself go with the thinking of "if this was a movie/comic, what would it look like" and then try to see it in my head as if it were a movie. After ten years of doing that it kinda stuck with me.

    Last edited by TinyBird; January 25th, 2011 at 04:57 AM.
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    Sometimes I have a perfectly clear image. Sometimes I have a vague idea of what I want but haven't the foggiest idea what it looks like. Or any variation in between. It all depends.

    Either way, there's usually a certain amount of explorational drawing to get the image to crystallize on paper, or to try possible alternatives.

    Which is perfectly okay, that's a totally normal way of working. Nobody expects you to draw directly from some crystal clear mental picture. I've rarely seen anyone do that, most people seem to mess around with thumbnails or sketches or roughing in to figure out what things look like.

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    Sometimes I have a clear idea, sometimes I don't. I realized that the latter's case was because I didn't have previous knowledge on the subject I wanted to draw. For example, I want to create a convincing fantasy castle, but I didn't know how a castle look beyond regular fairy tales and it end up look obviously fake. After browsing many types of real life castle and learn how they work, it's easier for me to create a more realistic looking castle.
    As for ideation/creativity, usually I just try everything. Combine stuffs you don't usually combine. Brainstorm and scribble odd shapes just to get it out. You'll get to it eventually.
    Imagination is based on our knowledge about how stuffs look and work, so the more you know the more idea you'll have, and it will be easier to pour that idea into shapes you desire.

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    The eye loves suprises. What I 'see' in my head (like the other good posters have already well described) is never suprising in this way - I guess this has something to do with already 'knowing' it before we dream up the foggy image. In fact, I don't think we dream up suprising images anyway - weird, yes, but not suprising in the way that our eye delights in when coming across a configuration that fascinates it.

    Suprising images, interesting images, are discovered......never invented.

    Hence all the messing about with thumbnails, doodling and just plain reacting to the promptings of the painting during its development. Even a plain old portrait - you come across and discover whilst developing it a way of turning it into something that has, well, just a certain something beyond eyes, nose and mouth. And that is precisely the thing you could not forsee before you started....

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    An idea and a picture are two different things. Sometimes, in order to know what something looks like, you have to draw it first.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Sometimes.

    Most of the time it's not in the form of a clear picture - just a general idea of what I want done.

    In fact, even in those cases when it seems a clear picture, developing it into a real picture often reveals that it could not work like I imagined it in the first place. No theory survives its first collision with practice. Missing detail, things not thought through - your mind's eye just ignores them, but they become evident once you try to put it down. So the result may end up very different from what was envisioned first, and yet there is a chance to retain some of the idea's quality.

    But the original ideas generally do have some visual element to them.

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    Thanks, all these posts were actually mindblowingly simple and useful.

    I just wanted to add that when I go to draw something unfamilar, I find myself stumped. I literally do not know where to start. I don't know if it's a lack of knowledge as Pegahoul so brilliently put it, or fear of a lack of knowledge.

    I assume like everything in art, it's just a matter of forcing yourself to try. But it just seems like I'm not progressing despite best efforts and havn't done over the last 3 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HAJiME View Post
    I just wanted to add that when I go to draw something unfamilar, I find myself stumped. I literally do not know where to start. I don't know if it's a lack of knowledge as Pegahoul so brilliently put it, or fear of a lack of knowledge.
    If you are talking about drawing something unfamiliar to you from imagination of course you'll be stumped, anyone would be. If from life then you just need to observe carefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by HAJiME View Post
    I assume like everything in art, it's just a matter of forcing yourself to try. But it just seems like I'm not progressing despite best efforts and havn't done over the last 3 years.
    You have to "try" in the right way though. It isn't that complicated yet it is a lot more than just filling up page after page in sketchbooks. Developing your skills as an artist is primarily about developing your ability to see, observe and design. The best approach is the traditional approach of drawing from life. Have your "best efforts" included a reasonable amount of studies from life? Work on the fundamentals and the rest will fall into place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HAJiME View Post
    I just wanted to add that when I go to draw something unfamilar, I find myself stumped. I literally do not know where to start. I don't know if it's a lack of knowledge as Pegahoul so brilliently put it, or fear of a lack of knowledge.
    You don't know how to draw it because you don't know how to draw it. So, you learn how to draw it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by HAJiME View Post
    I just wanted to add that when I go to draw something unfamilar, I find myself stumped. I literally do not know where to start. I don't know if it's a lack of knowledge as Pegahoul so brilliently put it, or fear of a lack of knowledge.
    That's where research and reference come in. Don't know what something looks like? Research it. Find out what it looks like. Learn about it. Find or create reference. Voila, now you have knowledge!

    I go through this on so many pictures - I get some wild idea, do some rough sketches, then freak out for a minute when I see what I've gotten myself into. "I have to draw a what? And a which?? And a who, in what kind of pose??? I don't know what any of that looks like!" Cue frantic research until I find or contrive reference, after which it all clears up and I start thinking, "oh hey, maybe I can do this after all..."

    A little research can make the most daunting and unfamiliar tasks much less intimidating. Don't think you have to somehow be able to draw anything in the world from memory, because nobody can.

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    kev ferrara is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Some Howard Pyle quotes:

    One of the greatest pleasures in Art is living IN a subject but it
    requires great mental training - and it is hard - much harder to
    acquire this mental training than to get technical training.
    As you know it takes five years to learn how to paint a picture and
    then you come to find that you only have to imagine things vividly
    and make them real as they are.
    In doing a composition we often make sketch after sketch without
    getting what we want when suddenly an unseen force seems to guide the
    hand and we exclaim, “Why, that is what I wanted!” .....

    It may be that the arrangement is entirely different from what we had
    started out to make it.

    Then we may elaborate and work up the idea, always coming back to
    this sketch in which we caught the spirit until in the finished work
    we get something that should be better than anything that has gone
    before.
    ...you should not need models. You KNOW how a face looks - how an
    eye is placed and the form of it and you should be able to draw it
    from your knowledge.

    That is the very difficulty with students from other schools. They
    have learned to copy the figure, have studied in New York and Paris.
    People say “That is a good draughtsman.” Yet ask him to draw without
    the model and he is utterly helpless.

    He has learned nothing of real value, for you cannot draw until you
    can be independent of the model.

    And so I would advise you to draw your figures and carry them as far
    as you can without the model then get the model to correct by.
    The inspiration comes to you and deep in your mind is a shadowy image.

    You put a pencil to the paper and with the first black line the IMAGE
    goes - like that (a snap of the fingers).

    But through training you learn to retain the image until you can
    express it on your canvas.
    It should be noted that Pyle was a stickler for detailed research and he was himself a scholar of the clothing of Medieval and Colonial times. He believed both research and imagination were essential and taught this principle to all his students.

    At least Icarus tried!


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    Personally, I'm a fan of researching not only how something looks superficially, but also how it's built. Anatomy diagrams, floorplans and projections, costume patterns or flats, etc. All good stuff. Anything to help you understand the form of things.

    The more you can find out about the structure of something, the better you'll be able to draw it in any position or lighting you want even if you can't get an exact reference. And you probably won't get reference that looks exactly like what's in your head... There's usually some extrapolation and editing required. (The old masters were masters at this... they could turn a gangly male apprentice into a serene Madonna, or an ugly assistant hanging onto a rope into a glamorous soaring angel.)

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    what i do is put random shit (shapes) down and then I see something and start working towards it.

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    For me, I can't really explain how I see images in my head in any way other than its like looking at something in the dark - you can tell what it is, but the details are hazy.

    Then its 50/50 whether details come naturally as "Oh! I know, I'll pop one of those there" while I'm drawing, or I'll hit a creative block and need to research.

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    It can appear in my mind in different ways. Sometimes it's as clear as a dream, sometimes like that space of time right before you fall asleep, sometimes like trying to remember something that's been misplaced. Look at something around you right now then close your eyes, for a split second it holds it's appearance in your memory before it fades away, that split second after you close your eyes(assuming you're eyes and brain work like mine) is about the clarity I can get when I train regularly. Whether it appears very clear spontaneously in the mind or out in the world to me it's the same thing, you need a strong memory to hold it together so you can draw it. The best way I know to train the imagination is to train the memory, but the training is very hard and very tedious. In short what I do is I go out to a place and observe something interesting for at least 20 minutes then later that same day I draw it. Drawing in this way all the looking is done at once and all the drawing is done at once.

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    I am going to post two painting demo vids, Mine and Iv Solyaev's vids.

    I dont think both of us are trying to teach anybody anything, just showing our process a little bit.
    The good part is that it looks like that even though both of us almost knew what we wanted but had to find ways to get there. Finding is the keyword here I think.

    First here is Iv's demo vid

    http://vimeo.com/13293752


    And heres mine

    http://vimeo.com/19199174

    I also had a lil discussion with Jason Hong(rusty) about getting to know different approaches by doing and watching these vids.

    ANd any help with embedding vimeo vids here?

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    There is plenty of very good advice in the posts here, but first of all I don’t think people actually teach people how to draw or paint.

    I think you can have an art instructor that can show you how they do it….but for the most part it is something that someone has to achieve themselves.

    How? Practice, trial & error, and practice some more.

    Look at the world around. Look at other peoples artwork. Sometimes it takes viewing thousands of images just to get an understanding of what a leg really looks like, or a hip, thumb….so on. This is something that I struggle with a lot.

    Anyway, I do get very vivid and focused images in the old brain noggin when I’m thinking of artwork. The thing is people don’t get clear and vivid images of sketches ( I don’t) They get clear pictures of a finished artwork. The sketches are what lead you there.

    Every image I see is a finished piece of artwork. Whether I can get it there, or whether it looks the same as the original idea is a different story. The thing I want to propose to you is that if you have a concrete image in your mind, a finished piece of work, then don’t stop until your finished idea matches your finished artwork ( or as close as you can come to it) anything less and you’re just settling. And settling can become a habit. A bad one.

    Now I’m not saying don’t make changes, sometimes to progress the work changes have to be made. But stick to your original thoughts as close as possible. Even if it takes loads of sketches and much time.

    I think after a while your skill will become faster and better developed at drawing or painting what you see in your minds eye. Which is what I think most folk are really looking to do.

    Stay true to what is in your head, and do your best when you start something, to see it finished. I’ve got about 60% of what I’ve started complete…….guess I should kick my own ass!! Just joking…..but really, stick to what you see in your mind and try to make it a completed work with as few changes as possible. I’ll bet you’ll be more satisfied with the finished work when you’re through.

    Good luck BP

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pegahoul View Post
    Sometimes I have a clear idea, sometimes I don't. I realized that the latter's case was because I didn't have previous knowledge on the subject I wanted to draw. For example, I want to create a convincing fantasy castle, but I didn't know how a castle look beyond regular fairy tales and it end up look obviously fake. After browsing many types of real life castle and learn how they work, it's easier for me to create a more realistic looking castle.
    As for ideation/creativity, usually I just try everything. Combine stuffs you don't usually combine. Brainstorm and scribble odd shapes just to get it out. You'll get to it eventually.
    Imagination is based on our knowledge about how stuffs look and work, so the more you know the more idea you'll have, and it will be easier to pour that idea into shapes you desire.
    100% agreed with you here. You really do have to do research in order to get over the nuisance of your brain filling in those gaps in knowledge by rote symbols, or only half-remembered memories.

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    If you are talking about drawing something unfamiliar to you from imagination of course you'll be stumped, anyone would be. If from life then you just need to observe carefully.



    You have to "try" in the right way though. It isn't that complicated yet it is a lot more than just filling up page after page in sketchbooks. Developing your skills as an artist is primarily about developing your ability to see, observe and design. The best approach is the traditional approach of drawing from life. Have your "best efforts" included a reasonable amount of studies from life? Work on the fundamentals and the rest will fall into place.
    I did mean drawing from life when I said I do not know where to start, and I think a couple of people got the wrong impression so I'm sorry it wasn't clear.

    I think at one time, when I drew from life a heck of a lot for school work, I was... well, doing it wrong in a way, and it developed bad habits. I have a tendency of not fixing problems in the drawing because I realised that people (my lecturers) couldn't tell the difference when I did. So I get so far through an image and find that those faults I never fixed are now preventing the image as a whole from working. I'm sure you know what I mean.

    Recently, I've been drawing a lot from observation (photos... it's cold out, but I am going out to museums this weekend) and trying to concentrate on drawing things accurately. And, like, I just... I feel like it doesn't... work? No matter what I do it just isn't right. It's so daunting even knowing where to put then pen down first. I know it's just that I've not only got to practise, but fix old habits, but... the not knowing where to start when I look out at a scene is distressing me quite a lot. So much going on, no idea of how to ...construct the image.

    Is it worth me taking drawing lessons? Throughout education I've never been taught to draw. I dunno if that's normal or not.

    If you check the blog link in my sig you can see recent work which might show what I mean.

    Thanks, to everyone, for their input.

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    But we always change the vision instead.
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    I hear ya as far as if you don't know where to start, or adjust and fix problems along the way it can suck. I would only take drawing lessons from someone who really knows how to draw. I would try to hook up with teh Sketchcrawl crowd and make some friends there. Meanwhile I would buy "Drawing Essentials" by Deborah Rockman because it will show you how to start.

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    Thanks Jeff, going to check that book out.

    I was just looking at your portfolio. I'm not a big gamer, but I have Road Rash and used to play it all the time as a kid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HAJiME View Post
    Thanks Jeff, going to check that book out.

    I was just looking at your portfolio. I'm not a big gamer, but I have Road Rash and used to play it all the time as a kid.
    Good deal - it will really set you on the right path.

    That's awesome! I teach Modeling and Design and the term just started so I was doing show and tell with my students and going over Road Rash. Me and a guy named Arthur Koch did 90% of the art in that. And only two programmers...those were the days!

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    I asked myself similar questions before I have found some answers to dealing with this issue.

    First off...I know everyone always wants to just jump right in and get that great idea down and finished to show off, but if you want it to be in its purist form then always start with thumbnails and quick sketches. I'm talking no bigger than a few inches and no longer than about 5 minutes each. You'll find that this allows you to get the overall idea down in front of you totally unmolested and even allows you to choose from several different compositions because the first one in your head often isn't the best.

    I hope Kekai doesn't mind me using his blog as an example. Check out these thumbnails from Kekai Kotaki's work. Straight value, abstract shapes, no detail to begin. You can worry about details later when you actually have something to detail. For now, just get that overall blurry idea down.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_LoklNj_45x...n%2BRoughs.jpg

    Then after he's made some decisions he moves forward to this.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LoklNj_45x...n%2BFinals.jpg

    Worrying about details from the start gets in the way of laying down the overall image and severely slow you down. Many times the composition suffers and you end up polishing a turd.

    Secondly, using thumbnails and quick sketches and then working on the painting as a whole before fine details often ends up in happy accidents.

    Hope that helps!

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