How to draw from memory and imagination.

Learning how to draw from memory.

If you want to learn how to draw from memory, you will first need to be very familiar with the subject you are drawing, for example if you draw the letter (A) then it will be a memory drawing the way you have always drawn the letter (A). So every time you draw one it will look very smiler to the last one you drew. This is because you have done this an unknown number of times throughout your life and it is fixed inside your head. It will not change unless you purposely make an intended change. As you are very familiar with the letter (A). The letter (A) is a very simple shape and does not present very much to remember. If lets say you draw a car, then that is very different shape, that is far more complex than the letter, making it far more difficult to remember. It is more like the whole alphabet, upper and lower case plus numbers together.

Now I know that it is highly likely you can draw the alphabet and numbers from memory quite easy. So this also proves that you know how to draw from memory because you can do it with the alphabet. The question is how many times have you done this, the answer to that question is unknown. It must be thousands if not millions of times depending how old you are but how many cars have you drawn?

VW Underwater Concept Car, how to draw from memory and imagination.

10,20 or even a 100, it bares no comparison to the amount of times you have drawn all the letters and numbers of the alphabet, and so it is highly unlikely you will be able to remember what the car looks like, without having it in front of you to look at. There is a lot to remember if you want to know how to draw from memory. A point to note (when I am talking about how to draw from memory I do not mean any old car, I mean a specific car like a Mustang or a Corvette). Most people can draw a box shape and put a couple of wheels on it that would make it a representation of a car but in most cases not a very good one, so that is not what I mean.

To be able to know how to draw from memory you need to train yourself to do so by braking it down into component parts. Wheels, windows, lights, tires, side view mirrors, door handles, the list goes on and on, that’s why it is difficult. Each one of these is a shape in it’s own right, so is a lot to remember, but it is possible. By breaking it down, you learn how a car is actually made up or constructed, you learn the anatomy of a car and all cars look very similar overall.

All cars have the items mentioned above and all of these items can be found in very smiler places on all cars. If you know that a car has wheels and these wheels are usually a defined distance apart from each other. This distance can be measured by the number of wheels it takes to get to the next wheel. Then you can easily make a template in your mind for placing these wheels the right distance apart. You can easily check this distance by measuring the number of wheels from your first wheel to your second wheel and you will get it right every time.

If you know that the wind shield usually starts about half the width of a wheel behind the front wheel then you know where it goes on most cars but also remember that every one is slightly different as well. If you learn where everything goes in this way by teaching yourself this from doing it on purpose, then you learn how to construct cars without having one to look at because you know where everything goes. Also if you use an item like a wheel as a measuring tool then everything about your car will be in proportion to everything else just like they are on real cars.

In the image of the car above you can see 3 red double sided arrows these are all the same size which show you how much smaller the rear of the car is because of its distance from the front. It also shows how far the windscreen is from the front wheel which is about half the width of the wheel. You can also take note that the door line actually almost measures up with the windscreen.

If this image was directly side on you would be able to measure the distance between the wheels and everything else about this car by using the wheels as the basic measurement which would give you a greater understanding of the anatomy of this vehicle.

If you do this then just doing it will make you more familiar with the subject of cars but also anything that you might like drawing for example, faces or people because they are not very much different from each other either. If you understand the anatomy of the subjects you draw as well as having a familiarity with them combined, you will be more able and know how to draw from memory. If you do this a lot then you will also be prompted by the parts you are drawing as to what the next part to draw might be. This also helps as you are following a process of actions that becomes a natural pattern of behavior.

A good way to practice memory drawing is to draw cars or other subjects like faces as described above and to then when you have finished the drawing, using these techniques to draw the same drawing all over again, while it is still fresh in your mind, without looking at it. Doing this will reinforce your learning, making it stronger as a memory and build up your ability to remember by exercising your visual memory, making it stronger and more capable.

Below you will find a video of a drawing I did using this method but changing the viewing position, so I was drawing it from a different angle, also making it even more difficult. When wanting to be able to draw well, you really need to push yourself hard to make, what seems like very little ground at the time but that is what will make you progressively just that little bit better.

Let me explain this in another way, cartoon films once consisted of thousands of hand drawn, hand painted images, where every single one had to be the same as the last one but in a different position or pose from a different angle. For one person to do this on there own it would take years so the cartoon makers would hire many people and break everything down into smaller components, bite sized chunks so any body could soon learn to do that one small part. Then they would have a team of say 20 people doing only small parts making it easy and also enabling them to complete them very quickly. If you had spent the last 10 years doing this for a studio that made cartoons do you think that you would probably be able to almost do this with you eyes closed?

The way to learn how to draw from memory is learned by drilling yourself to do so through continuous repetition, drawing the same thing over and over until you learn where everything goes, and purposely drawing your attention to understanding where it goes also.
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