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  • Writer's pictureKonstantin

6 Effective Tips To Learn To Draw From Your Imagination

Updated: May 27, 2020

The best tips to get into drawing from imagination - A very effective way for beginners to learn drawing from imagination fast.

Drawing from imagination is often considered to be the hardest part of learning how to draw. If you want to learn how to draw what is on your mind I have some majorly effective beginner tips for you today.

Why is it so hard and where do you have to begin? Today we'll answer this question together. We'll also cover how you can get satisfying results already today.

Wait. Don't believe that last sentence. Drawing from imagination takes time and effort to succeed in. You need to learn a lot of things in order to be able to draw from memory and finally even from imagination at some point.

It is a journey that takes time until it gets you there. Anyone is able to achieve that, yes, but don't belive anyone who is trying to sell you some course or ebook that apparently teaches you how to achieve after one hour. That's not possible.

But I don't want to discourage you. Clearly you're here to know HOW it's actually possible and that's what we're going to talk about in this article. This isn't directed at drawing professionals. In fact, everyone who is even just starting or thinking about it can learn something today.


I. Introduction

II. 6 Drawing From Imagination Tips

1. Simple Shapes

2. Challenge Yourself

3. Learn And Then Learn More

4. Fundamental Knowledge First

5. Think Less, Draw More?

6. Daily Exercising Habits

III. Bonus Lesson From A Professional

IV. Conclusion

I. Introduction

Many aspiring, beginning artists struggle with the question or the challenge to simply draw from imagination. Simply, there it is. Is it really simple? No, of course, it is not.

As I've already mentioned at the very beginning even before the overview of this article, it takes a lot of practice, time, sweat, and probably even tears to get to the point where you can really say "I can draw from my imagination".

At first, I want to familiarize you with a very important difference. You need to differentiate between three different similar terms that often confuse people who are beginning to learn about drawing.

I'm talking about drawing from observation, drawing from memory, and finally about drawing from imagination. These three terms describe the three stages everyone has to master to reach the point where you can draw from imagination at any time.

The first step is to draw from observation which is also being called life drawing. Life drawing is one of the three major categories of drawing in general. It again can be divided into more subcategories such as nature drawing or still life drawing.

After that, the next step you have to take is to learn how to draw from memory. This is when you have learned much about one particular subject and are now able to draw different variations of it without reference.

For example ships. If you learn a lot about boats and ships and if you draw many different boats and ships based on reference images you provide your brain with information about that subject. The more of that you feed to your brain the better you will become at drawing ships from your memory.

To draw from imagination is the last step that takes the longest to reach. Drawing from imagination means being able to draw a lot of different subjects in one artwork without using any kind of reference. Without looking at images or other artists' works you are then able to draw whatever is on your mind.

For example, if you want to draw a street with a few houses, a skyscraper, billboards, cars, people, dogs, cats, and trees you need to know about a lot of different subjects.

Perspective drawing most of all to construct the urban environment.

Proportions and/or anatomy to insert humans. Furthermore, you will need to know about cars, animals, and trees to finish your work in this example. If you can do this just from having an idea inside your head, you can truly draw from imagination.

Drawing from imagination takes a lot of practice and experience. Nevertheless, the most important thing is to just start somewhere. Let's jump right into the 6 tips to help you draw from your imagination.

II. 6 Drawing From Imagination Tips

There are a few tips that I found most effective in learning to draw from imagination. Of course, this includes methods to improve drawing from observation and from memory.

Knowing about and understanding these two previous steps is mandatory to succeed in drawing from imagination. Knowing these tips will facilitate your learning progress until you reach your goal of being able to draw from imagination.

1. Simple Shapes

Probably the most important thing you need to do is to break everything down to very basic shapes and forms. If you are reading on Mac H. - Creative regularly you have probably heard me talk about this already.

Breaking your subjects you want to draw down to the most basic geometrical forms and shapes will help you understand these subjects tremendously faster. It is difficult at the beginning but the more you do it, the faster you will become and the better you will understand the subject you're focussing on at the moment.

Just think about this for a minute. The head of a horse, for example, basically consists of just two spheres connected with a cut-off cone. You can also start with a teardrop-like form instead of a simple ball but it is also possible to start with a sphere there.

Refining and defining are optional further steps after having broken down the vase or the car for example. Just as in sketching you can start off with basic shapes and forms and later on refine it with more detailed lines and curves.

While refining you can steadily increase the amount of pressure you put on your drawing tools to make the lines better visible. When you finally define your drawing, you can maximize that pressure to really define the individual lines.

Breaking down your subject at first is a perfect possibility to learn about and understand the subject in its entire structure.

This doesn't only enable you to understand objects better but it has also another huge advantage. If you draw figures for example or from still life setups you can break your subject down to basic forms to give it a more three-dimensional look.

Legs will immediately look more realistic if you start by roughly and lightly sketching cylinders instead of two parallel lines. The vase from your still life setup looks a thousand times more 3D if you draw its basic forms first and then erasing the lines you aren't supposed to see.

2. Challenge Yourself

If you want to understand one subject in the best way possible, you need to dedicatedly focus on that specific type of thing or being. A very effective way to do so without letting procrastination take over is by challenging yourself.

Participate in (x)-day challenges on social media or just make up your own one. You can maybe write down 50 ideas (or take any other number that you find to be challenging enough) and draw one of them every day.

Don't take 2 hours deciding which one you should draw today but instead always force yourself to draw the very next thing from the list. This way you really can progress at a pace that will lead you somewhere.

Most importantly a challenge will keep you from only drawing once every two weeks because your actual Netflix series is suddenly becoming more interesting.

If you decide to join an online challenge there are a lot of possibilities on social media networks that you can participate in. A great platform where you can find drawing challenges and nice communities around them is Instagram.

Connecting to like-minded people can tremendously increase the will and the motivation you need to succeed at such a complex topic as drawing from imagination or drawing in general. You can join the Mac H. - Creative community on Facebook here.

Everyone is very welcome to get to know other aspiring drawers and I want to encourage you to share your artworks there. You will get feedback from others and you will notice how motivating that can be.

3. Learn And Then Learn More

The theoretical basis is really key to drawing from memory and later also from imagination, of course. If you want to draw a subject of your interest without using reference images at first you have to draw those things from references.

It doesn't matter whether this is from books, videos, movies or real-life. If you're interested in learning more about drawing animals from wildlife such as a deer, you could go visit a museum for these kinds of animals.

Observation is key to everything in the field of drawing generally. Every artist need to know, how to look at things and especially to what areas to pay attention to while observing. I've written an entire article on that topic. Check it out here.

The important thing is to gain a huge amount of knowledge of something. Only by knowing about a certain subject you will manage to draw it without reference.

Take this video for example. The guy here shows you how you need to feed your brain in order to learn to draw from imagination one day. It is only 3 minutes and he perfectly summarizes the deeply psychological phenomenon of memory to really anyone.

He compares learning about a specific subject is like filling a box inside your head with references and by that also knowledge. This works fine but just don't forget that basic theoretical knowledge is also needed to succeed.

By that, I mean that looking at images and drawing from them is sufficient for like 90% but if you want that 100% of knowledge about a subject, which you need to draw from imagination you also deal with theoretical stuff around your subject.

Technical structure and concept of cars if you're into that or maybe anatomy of cats if that's what you want to focus on. These are tasks you will need to also deal with when you're truly intending on learning to draw from memory and imagination.

Let me add one more thing here.

Learning about a subject is completely different in every single drawing category. As you maybe know I'm dividing drawing into three main categories that include every single kind of drawing there is.

The three types of drawing are life drawing, fictional drawing, and design drawing.

If you focus on drawing from life, you have to study different things as you have to in case you're focussing on design drawings. So, if you want to draw faces you need a totally different approach than if you want to design fashion.

For the theoretical basis of human anatomy and face proportions, an online course is most likely to help you understand the subject. My favorite one is "Drawing Made Easy" because it provides an optimal mixture of theoretical knowledge and practices all about faces and human anatomy for a very fair price. You can get it if you click here.

Fantasy drawing—part of the fictional drawing category—may require more of a book or movie based learning approach. If you want to draw dwarves and elves you almost need to be an expert on Lord of the Rings or similar fantasy franchises.

Abstract drawing and painting is an exception to this. Abstract drawing can literally be anything. Nobody necessarily needs specific knowledge to start creating abstract drawings. Zentangle is an abstract drawing method where you have to learn a little bit.

4. Fundamental Knowledge First

This may sound obvious, but many people tend to forget about this. In order to be able to draw from imagination, of course, you need to be able to understand the general basics of drawing.

I already quickly mentioned the perception skills before every drawing artist needs to be aware of. Learning to draw is a difficult and long journey but it gets a lot easier if you take a little bit of time to learn and understand how an artist sees the world.

It's actually not that difficult and really anyone can learn it. The five basic perception skills include the understanding and perception of edges, spaces, relationships, light/shadow, and the whole/gestalt of an object.

If you want to increase your knowledge on these topics, check out this other article on Mac H. - Creative I've written that is all about these five drawing fundamentals.

5. Think Less, Draw More?

We've now talked a lot about thinking and theoretical stuff (besides that challenge idea) but what is always more important than learning the theoretical crap?


Don't start practicing after you've finished your studies on one particular topic but already in between. You need to find a suitable mixture of theory and practice. A combination of learning and actually drawing.

I always recommend to friends who start drawing that a 50:50 ratio is the most effective way in my experience and based on the experience of others. Take 50% of your time you have available to learn drawing and use it to study dedicatedly that one subject of yours.

By the way... It is important to only focus on one topic/subject at a time. Master one and only after that continue with the next one that calls for you. Step by step!

Some people say that less thinking is required and more drawing should be done in the amount of time one has to draw. I have tried spending a larger amount on learning and I've also tried to focus a lot more on actually drawing.

After now one year of experience I must say that the best ratio is still the good old 50:50 if you believe it or not. If you don't believe me, however, I want to encourage you to experiment with that on your own.

This is the best way to find out what is best suitable for yourself. Of course, it can vary from individual to individual. Just remember to do both, theory and practice without completely neglecting one of them.

6. Daily Exercising Habits

This is very close to the challenge thing we've talked about in the second tip. No matter if you participate in a challenge, come up with your own one or not. Establishing a daily drawing routine is key to every artist in every industry or niche.

All successful people—disregarding their field—have daily habits integrated into their regular daily routine.

If you don't keep at it and practice and learn every single day or at least 6 days a week you are very likely to drop it too early because you're not seeing results fast enough. For this blog, work, drawing, and other hobbies, I have a very efficient habit. Let me explain to you what I mean exactly.

I know, that I wouldn't be able to keep this site alive if I only uploaded one article every three months and I know that I am that kind of person that is extremely excited about something for the first few weeks or maybe months but after that, the excitement drops to an almost permanent low.

To avoid this terribly frustrating phenomenon I know many people have, I plan my weeks at the end of every week. One or two days, I use to spend completely with my girlfriend, friends or family. All other days are included in these week plans.

After you've roughly drawn a timetable, the next thing you will want to do is to cross out all the times you have to go to work, where you have important appointments or where you plan on spending time with friends. Spare time is important for everybody!

Now, you can fill the rest theoretical learning about a subject or with drawing exercising sessions. You can be completely free there but when you have this plan throughout your week it will be hard to not keep at it. You will see how effective this is.

III. Bonus Lesson From A Professional

Proko is one of the most valuable drawing channels on Youtube. They managed to get Peter Han to draw something and explain a bit about it at a convention. They recorded it and uploaded it on Youtube for us to learn from this master.

I'll just let this video or Peter Han speak for itself. I'm sure you can get many valuable tips from this video if you want to succeed at drawing one day. Have fun watching and listening to this amazing artist.

IV. Conclusion

Finalizing this article today I want to summarize the most important things overall in terms of learning to draw from imagination.

What are the stages of drawing from imagination?

Stage 1: Drawing From Observation

Stage 2: Drawing From Memory

Stage 3: Drawing From Imagination

Additionally, if you want to trust my experience, you should always keep a 50% learning and 50% drawing routine. You will see results faster the more you practice and for that, daily or almost daily exercising habits are most effective.

If you have trouble sticking to daily routines, try either participating in a challenge online or establishing a week plan to guide you through every week. This will boost your motivation and provide you with a clear structure that is easy to follow.

If you get frustrated and fail a lot of times, don't ever let this bring you down. Failure is where true growth happens. Only by making mistakes you will learn and understand the subject more and more.

The most important thing is always to start somewhere. If you never start doing something you aren't even able to come an inch closer to your goal.

If you just know you want to get into drawing but don't know where to start, let me introduce you to Zentangle. A drawing method that is so easy that even my non-drawing 18 year old me was able to learn it. Learn it together with me completely for free here.

No matter what your challenge or your goal is... You will only succeed if you start.

Will you start today?

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