The importance of visual memory

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    The importance of visual memory

    Hi guys,

    Being the eternal beginner that I am, here is a beginner opinion on visual memory:

    Has I draw more and more, I start to think that the reason why some young people have an head start in drawing is because they have a good visual memory and the ability to retain more information in their brain.
    Especially when drawing people from life, that are constantly moving and changing angles, this skill is very important.

    Drawing an object involves looking at the object and then looking down upon the paper in order to record what is seen. Of course, whilst the artist is looking down, the subject matter in front is not longer being looked at. Drawing accurately means retaining what has been seen and transferring this information down onto the paper. But in many cases, a short term visual memory can interfere with the accuracy of the drawing.
    source



    There are times when I can retain some information of the subject I'm drawing. When this happens, I can visualize a portion of the subject in the paper and draw easily. For me, its an amazing feeling , and I'd like to feel like that the entire drawing.

    I leave an example of this drawing. After I finished I was tired, burned out and my head hurts. I tried to copy as close has I could, but it took all the concentration I have.

    Edit 25-10-2012:
    I have to stress that it is a very difficult thing to do if you are starting out, at least for me, but it's trainable. And as QueenGwenevere said on the second page, it gets better with training.
    It's a great feeling when you can visualize the information in the paper before you put any mark on it, and I'm very interested in this kind of visualization.

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    There are several other reasons why memory training is useful, for the landscape painter outside where things are constantly changing, a memory of the way it looked before is very useful. But the subtler and most important reason in my estimation is this. When you are working from life, you make an observation from nature, when you then look away from nature and look at your canvas or paper, you must recall what you just saw. The quality of the memory you formed a second or two before is extremely important. It is not so much that you will have forgotten what you saw, but the ability of your mind to store it in the first place. Imagine a recording made on fine studio recording equipment, a lot of good information is there. But if recording is done on poor quality equipment, the information is muddled, incomplete or unclear.
    Source


    I will keep this quote for understanding purposes. But it's not meant to be read literally. It just expresses the idea that good visual memory is connected with the ability to copy something by drawing. If you have it and you're not trained, you can copy better than if you don't
    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?
    Source

    If you draw by measuring this becomes easier, a good book is "Drawing Essentials". But I'm not discussing this method, even though its a good method, it falls short in drawing moving objects from life.



    The good thing is:
    "There are few human skills which don't improve with practice."

    It would be cool to hear some ideas from you guys,
    Thanks

    Last edited by pegasi; October 25th, 2012 at 11:00 AM. Reason: tried to explain better..
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    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?


    ^This is is new age twaddle. There are no people who draw effortlessly. Don't buy into this crap. Drawing and painting is hard, its takes a long time to learn. That's why there are no young child prodigies in representational art like there are in music.

    As to your first point, learning to draw moving people from life is learning proportion. A person has a number of things that don't change size in relation to the whole body even in motion. Once you know these things you don't waste time looking at all the things that do change. So when drawing you learn to mark these things first in the pose you want. Its construction and accurate mark making more than memory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    I leave an example of this drawing. After I finished I was tired, burned out and my head hurts. I tried to copy as close has I could, but it took all the concentration I have. I felt me breathing very quickly to maintain concentration.
    I know what you mean. I have fought a long and mighty battle with achieving any accuracy, and I know from experience that a more or less successful drawing (after more than twenty years of study and practice, I have yet to achieve a completely successful one!) usually leaves me so drained and exhausted that I can't draw for days afterward.

    I do think that at least as far as the ability to accurately copy what we see is concerned, short-term visual memory plays an important role. In my case, my short-term visual memory seems to be more or less non-existent - I have kind of given up on trying to copy anything.

    ____________________________________________
    My sketchbook thread:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...ight=blogmatix
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Its construction and accurate mark making more than memory.
    But by making accurate marks you need to use memory

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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    I know what you mean. I have fought a long and mighty battle with achieving any accuracy, and I know from experience that a more or less successful drawing (after more than twenty years of study and practice, I have yet to achieve a completely successful one!) usually leaves me so drained and exhausted that I can't draw for days afterward.

    I do think that at least as far as the ability to accurately copy what we see is concerned, short-term visual memory plays an important role. In my case, my short-term visual memory seems to be more or less non-existent - I have kind of given up on trying to copy anything.
    This.

    (oops, sorry for the double post)

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    Just to note, your sketchbook link doesn't work.

    Why not try drawing the same thing again, after you've drawn more and see if you think it's such a struggle. Like say, do it in 2 months, or 1. Try again in a year. People don't look at the baby steps of their progress look for excuses why they can't get something right instead of looking at the progress they have made.

    So either sit there and make excuses why it's not coming out right this time, or look at what you're doing right and just keep learning. Up to you.

    It's not that you can't have your frustrations, but it amazes me how many people make more excuses than drawing. When I saw my friend drawing he was like a machine. He still makes lots of crap drawings but the ratio started turning because he kept going, not looking for things to make him stop or piss over "Why he won't be as good as X"

    Even though I don't have time to draw as much due to work, I'm not complaining. I don't make topics to make excuses - because I know I have to work at it. I may never be as good as "x" but you know what? Fuck it. I get better each time I draw.

    But this maybe another thread why people should read the book Art & Fear.

    Last edited by Arshes Nei; October 24th, 2012 at 11:48 AM.
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    Just to note, your sketchbook link doesn't work.
    Thanks


    o either sit there and make excuses why it's not coming out right this time, or look at what you're doing right and just keep learning. Up to you.
    I think I'm doing that. You got the wrong message.
    One way to improve is to try to understand why things work. If by training my short term visual memory I will improve my drawing than its great. Same thing for learning about light, color etc. This is how one practices effectively.
    I haven't stopped drawing, nor will I. I'm just learning more about myself and trying to find ways to improve.
    Getting others opinions is a good start.

    And just to note, I believe strongly that one can go very far just by working hard.

    Last edited by pegasi; October 24th, 2012 at 12:01 PM.
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    You get better the fastest by literally just putting miles on paper. Draw a ton from observation. The stuff in front of you. Draw people. Draw anything and everything. Be aware of proportions and actively observe what's going on in the drawing. Everyone when they start gets stuck in the "What should I do, and how should I do it phase". When I found I improved the most when I stopped asking about things and just did it. Then later without even realizing it I looked back and realized I improved. Often even with reading material I've found myself going back over books because I just simply wasn't at the level to use them properly yet.


    When it comes to drawing from observation. The more you draw the more you can see, the more you can see the more you can draw.

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    When doing studies like this, don't imitate the marks on paper. Imitate the original artist's thinking and method.

    Yes, it's much harder than imitating the marks; but it makes you think of how and why the artist made those particular marks. Much more useful as a learning exercise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    When doing studies like this, don't imitate the marks on paper. Imitate the original artist's thinking and method.

    Yes, it's much harder than imitating the marks; but it makes you think of how and why the artist made those particular marks. Much more useful as a learning exercise.

    How exactly do you do something like that? I must be overthinking what you mean.

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    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?
    PRACTICE.

    There is no such thing as mystical-magical-automatic talent. The "drawers" are the people who actually draw. The "drawer-nots" are the people who sigh wistfully and wish they could draw while waiting for someone to hand them the magickal key to drawing.

    (And let's not derail this thread with blather about savants who can copy pictures from memory or recite the entire phone book after glancing at it, we all know that's not applicable to the practical question of learning how to draw.)

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    guys, I know the way to improve is to work hard.
    What I'm trying to say is that I think short term visual memory is an important skill to have and that you can improve it. Some of the links on my first post show some exercises.
    You can do a million different types of exercises to improve and I think this type of training can be one of them.

    I think the problem is because I showed one of my drawings instead of just talking about the subject, in some way I made the thread personal... but this is not about me..

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    Visual memory is about having good theories on what you are drawing.

    For instance, if you study face construction methods and anatomy you will know what to notice in a face. You will know the proportions, skull structure, basic planes. You will have learned what makes eyes, nose, ears, lips their shape and how they go in the face and why. You will know how to make variations from the standard. You will also know that when drawing from life you should use that knowledge and break down what you see into simple shapes. So you have this complex description of what a human head is memorized, which is a deep understanding of it. When you look at someone and draw the person, you are drawing your understanding.

    I drew a young guy from memory who I saw in the subway. I was too shy to draw him from life. I didn't manage to memorize all his features (I didn't notice his ears at all, for instance) because the face shape, nose and eyes were my focus. It's not a great drawing by any means but it's at a standard better than an absolute beginner who stares at a face and yet can't put what he sees on paper because he hasn't learned what to see and I've read some Loomis and looked at some Rilley tuts, so I'm a bit ahead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    But by making accurate marks you need to use memory
    Drawing is a lot more about what you know, and a lot less about what you see...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    Drawing is a lot more about what you know, and a lot less about what you see...
    Yes, and I agree

    When drawing from observation, there is numerous ways to do that, right?
    You can copy what you see, you can translate what you see...
    This short memory drawing that I'm talking about can be a way to approach drawing from life, imo.
    One procedure I use goes like this:
    loosely draw the big shapes of the subject and try to get the proportions approximately right, this part is more about measuring.
    Think of the different forms as simple geometrical forms and feel the form as you draw through the form.
    After doing this too steps you can look at the subject with more ease and compare with the drawing (having some marks on the paper to compare helps visualization). Feel the proportions and relationships of the subject and retain a portion of that visual information in your brain. Next, visualize and translate that information into the paper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    I think the problem is because I showed one of my drawings instead of just talking about the subject, in some way I made the thread personal... but this is not about me..
    Given the topic, most would look at your art regardless if you posted it here or not.

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    Yeah, after reading it again I understand. What I was looking for is for people to discuss this practice, but it turned in other thing, and that's on me..

    But I really think that if you train to retain portions if visual information from the subject, and try to translate it into the paper, its going to be a great practice.
    It should even help in visualizing on the paper what you want to draw from imagination.

    Edit: What I think is that people who have a good short term memory can copy exactly what they see into the paper, with little to no training. That's not art, it's just copying like a machine.
    I don't think there is any really great young artist. I don't think you are born with it and that theres no hope for the rest.
    Most importantly, I know you can improve if you PRACTICE HARD. Just to make this more clear...

    There are many artists that talk about this short term visual memory...In one of the interviews that Bobby Chiu did, one of the artists talked about it. (I have to find who was it)

    Last edited by pegasi; October 24th, 2012 at 06:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    PRACTICE.

    There is no such thing as mystical-magical-automatic talent. The "drawers" are the people who actually draw. The "drawer-nots" are the people who sigh wistfully and wish they could draw while waiting for someone to hand them the magickal key to drawing.

    (And let's not derail this thread with blather about savants who can copy pictures from memory or recite the entire phone book after glancing at it, we all know that's not applicable to the practical question of learning how to draw.)
    there is at least a handful of people on here that started off drawing like shit and about a year and 100 drawings later there at a pro level what would you call that?

    Last edited by creeptool; October 24th, 2012 at 06:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by creeptool View Post
    there is at least a handful of people on here that started off drawing like shit and about a year and 100 drawings later there at a pro level what would you call that?
    That's called practice, and probably more than 100 drawings were done to achieve that level, believe me. The people I've seen who have made stupendous progress in little time invariably worked their asses off during that time, AND were focused on learning the important stuff (in other words, not doodling their favorite subjects over and over, but tackling their weaknesses head on.) We're talking all day, every day, hardcore-style practice.

    Show me someone who only made 100 drawings in a year and didn't try very hard and somehow advanced from beginner to pro in that time.

    I think the problem is because I showed one of my drawings instead of just talking about the subject, in some way I made the thread personal... but this is not about me..
    Nah, the only problem is that quote at the end, really. It's an instant rant-trigger around here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    That's called practice, and probably more than 100 drawings were done to achieve that level, believe me. The people I've seen who have made stupendous progress in little time invariably worked their asses off during that time, AND were focused on learning the important stuff (in other words, not doodling their favorite subjects over and over, but tackling their weaknesses head on.) We're talking all day, every day, hardcore-style practice.

    Show me someone who only made 100 drawings in a year and didn't try very hard and somehow advanced from beginner to pro in that time.



    Nah, the only problem is that quote at the end, really. It's an instant rant-trigger around here.
    Miles' sketchbook i know he did more then a 100 drawings but it just seems like the guy never had a learning curve even when he started drawing digitally i just don't see the hard work flow in his sketch book for how fast and how much he improved.

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    Who is Miles, and how do you know he didn't do a lot of work that wasn't posted in his sketchbook? Or that he wasn't drawing before he even started a sketchbook? People don't necessarily post everything they've ever done in their CA sketchbook, by a long shot.

    I can't gauge this anyway without a link...

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    Vinicam is offline Five percent inspiration and ninety five percent transpiration.
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    Yeah, Miles show some amazing progress...

    I don't believe in talent as people say, "born with the thing", but I believe some people learn faster than others... We can see this in all fields. I think the hability to see what you're doing wrong or what you should do to correct may be the "talent" some people have and others need don't, needing someone to point it out or take more time to solve it.
    All the examples I know of people who started drawing really good in a short amount of time did tons of drawings a day, but all of them know what they did wrong and what to do to resolve it, then it's just about having the time and will to practice.
    Also, Miles and Algenpfleger, pardon if I'm making a mistake here, made some impossible quantities of drawings per day for people who work. I remember lookin at Algen's sketchbook to see that he made more than 10 pages a day of heads at various angles, over and over again, for more than a week... And them he did bodies... And them arms... etc.

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    What Queen said. People definitely don't post everything they doodle out. Especially not something traditional because many don't have scanners, or they just don't want to spend the large amount of time prepping and getting everything ready to put into the SB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    Who is Miles, and how do you know he didn't do a lot of work that wasn't posted in his sketchbook? Or that he wasn't drawing before he even started a sketchbook? People don't necessarily post everything they've ever done in their CA sketchbook, by a long shot.

    I can't gauge this anyway without a link...
    miles, sketch book link...http://conceptart.org/forums/showthr...s-sketchbook-D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinicam View Post
    Yeah, Miles show some amazing progress...

    I don't believe in talent as people say, "born with the thing", but I believe some people learn faster than others... We can see this in all fields. I think the hability to see what you're doing wrong or what you should do to correct may be the "talent" some people have and others need don't, needing someone to point it out or take more time to solve it.
    All the examples I know of people who started drawing really good in a short amount of time did tons of drawings a day, but all of them know what they did wrong and what to do to resolve it, then it's just about having the time and will to practice.
    Also, Miles and Algenpfleger, pardon if I'm making a mistake here, made some impossible quantities of drawings per day for people who work. I remember lookin at Algen's sketchbook to see that he made more than 10 pages a day of heads at various angles, over and over again, for more than a week... And them he did bodies... And them arms... etc.
    i agree with what your saying....some people just get it it clicks for them...miles never seem to hit a wall.

    Last edited by creeptool; October 24th, 2012 at 09:07 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by creeptool View Post
    The progress I'm seeing there for the first year looks about average, actually. Don't be distracted by all the digital shiny, the underlying drawings in the digital pieces show about as much progress as could be expected from anybody practicing with reasonable regularity. And the time between the first post and the last is about five years - you can learn a LOT in five years if you stick to it. (Also, it's obvious he'd been drawing for some time before he started that sketchbook.) (AND he's almost certainly not posting everything he's doing, not by a looooong shot. Looks like he posts the things he's most proud of, every now and then. Y'know, like what most people do. )

    I think it's a waste of time believing that people who seem to be making faster progress than oneself must have some special "edge", or that they somehow find it "easier". Odds are they've gone through just as much frustration as anyone else, but maybe at an earlier point in their development, or in a condensed way. It helps if you're drawing constantly - I know for me, the times when I'm drawing the most are the times when I improve exponentially. If I slack, things don't go so well. It can also help if someone has good teachers or mentors available; knowledgable feedback on a regular basis can help you break bad habits much more quickly than if you're trying to figure everything out yourself.

    There's a lot of factors that affect speed of improvement, and none of them are "natural ability." It's actually kind of an insult to say someone "had it easy" if they worked hard to get where they are.

    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; October 24th, 2012 at 09:41 PM. Reason: silly typos
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    You guys shouldn't spend time thinking about why you can't improve as fast as other artists can. You should spend time thinking about what they did, and why those things they did made them improve. I think you should also have a long-term goal for yourself. You need to have an idea of where you want to be and what you want to be able to do.

    You should never assume that things come easily for others or that they didn't have to work hard for it. That kind of thinking pisses me the hell off.
    People can't see the efforts of others.

    When you argue for your limitations, they're yours. What the hell make excuses for? Cowards make excuses, and you aren't freaking cowards. People that become successful in anything do not make excuses.

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  42. #29
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    People who never seem to hit a wall are the people that love to draw so much that they have no wall to hit. Good or bad its all just fun for them, not work.

    "The whole point of practice is to do it until you can do it right." - dpaint

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  43. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?

    ^This is is new age twaddle. There are no people who draw effortlessly. Don't buy into this crap. Drawing and painting is hard, its takes a long time to learn. That's why there are no young child prodigies in representational art like there are in music.
    There's Kim Jung Gi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI-jnllfPXs

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