Can you draw from imagination?

DiscussionsCategory: QuestionsCan you draw from imagination?
Jonas von EssenJonas von Essen asked 5 months ago

I am curious about to which extent an inner eye is a necessity for drawing things without a model. What are your experiences? Are you able to draw, say, a cartoon elephant without looking at a model of one?

Natalya O'Keefe replied 5 months ago

I recently started drawing – I’m practicing with faces. A friend asked how I know what I’m going to draw if I can’t visualise it. I first replied that I find out when it’s on the paper. When I started to draw people’s faces from any angle other than front on, it become VERY clear that I have no idea what a face looking to the side looks like. It’s really quite amusing to look at. If I can figure out how to reply to this message with an image, I can show you the difference in drawing a face with no visual reference, and drawing a face when I have a reference picture.

Trevor DavisTrevor Davis replied 3 months ago

I have never been able to just draw something/anything. If I am given an object or picture to copy then I will have a good go. Like an earlier answer I am a mathematician and able to draw geometric shapes using the necessary instruments.

16 Answers
Rachel CicconeRachel C answered 5 months ago

I’m a hobby artist and no, you don’t need an inner eye to learn how to draw. I learned how to draw long before I even realized I couldn’t visualize. It makes drawing harder, sure, but it isn’t impossible. I’m kind of able to ‘feel’ where an object might be in space and be able to position it properly on the page how I want it. I find posing humans is harder without a reference and visualizing skills, but that’s also what references are for. I find designing characters and clothes is hard, though, because I can’t see them in my head, or compare in my head types of clothing I’ve seen in the past to mix and match what I want the character to look like.

I did end up drawing a little elephant to try, and yeah, it LOOKS like an elephant, but not a very good one lol

Jonas von EssenJonas von Essen replied 5 months ago

This is very interesting! Thanks for answering! 😀 Do you mind sharing the elephant? 🙂 Of course it’s alright if you don’t feel like it!
I am able to visualize, but I am not sure how much I actually do it when I for example draw an elephant. Maybe it is more about knowing sort of what an (cartoon) elephant ear looks like than actually visualizing one and then drawing it, also for people without aphantasia. Did you feel that your drawing skills were on par with say classmates when you were a kid?

Rachel C replied 5 months ago

I will post the elephant in a second!
I actually started learning how to draw rather late… I was in grade eight when I started to actually take some lessons. I knew someone who started lessons from when she was really young, so her drawing was always good. Better than mine, but I was also a lot less experienced than her. I’m a lot older now and I’ve practiced a lot since then, but for someone who hasn’t really gone to art school, I think my art is average at best. I have no desire to really persue an actual job based on art, it’s just something I enjoy for myself.

Rachel C replied 5 months ago

I had to post it to twitter but

Jonas von EssenJonas von Essen replied 5 months ago

Very cute elephant! 😀 Better than mine! 😀

Rachel C replied 5 months ago

I doodled myself today actually from memory, but couldn’t get the face right. Sometimes I do leave doodles faceless

Reg ForsaithReg Forsaith answered 5 months ago

Hmmm… Interesting.

I’m a terrible artistic art, but quite good at technical drawing – blue-print type stuff, both freehand, with tools or software.

I have no trouble thinking up a doodad and then sketching out what I’m thinking of with the three dimensions taken care of.

By that I mean from in front, one side and above.

the same is tru of drawing something that I’ve seen from memory.

i also build models and modify them, with and without instructions, but I suck at sculpting.

Gwen Rhys replied 2 months ago

Interesting. I only discovered about aphantasia last week at the age of 66. I doodle a lot, but always geometric-like shapes. I’ve also loved making models (all kinds) since l was a child. I’m finding my discovery fascinating. So far not found anyone else in my friendship circle!!!

Iblis BaneIblis Bane answered 5 months ago

I can’t draw anything. Stick figures maybe. 😀 Can barely draw a striaght line with a ruler.

Leonie SargeantLeonie Sargeant answered 4 months ago

I cannot draw from memory at all, but if I am looking at something right in front of me i can. I always used to get very frustrated before I knew I had aphantasia because I knew – in a narrative way – how I wanted my drawing to turn out but they never work. I tried it recently with a cartoon shark, and I could draw it (badly) whilst looking at it, but when I couldn’t see it I had no idea how to. Conceptually I knew what the shark should look like, but without being able to ‘see’ it , I had no way to translate my narrative description into a drawing.

Lindsay PulsipherLindsay Pulsipher answered 4 months ago

I can draw without visual recall. It’s easier with things that I have developed a sort of muscle memory for, but in general artist get better the more they practice.

Başak GençBaşak Genç answered 4 months ago

yes i can draw from imagination. i usually draw humans, especially faces. i cant visuliaze my moms face but i can draw it because i have it in my memory. after i realized i have aphantasia, i realized that i draw from my memory. for example if someone asks you to describe a person u can describe. thats how i draw

dusti fosterdusti foster answered 2 months ago

I can only draw a few things well with out a picture, like eyes and roses. I believe that is because I did them over and over. I am quite good with a visual reference at many things though. I am very good at shading and understand where the light will hit from what ever angle I have chosen.

Stay connected with the Aphantasia Network

We'll send you the latest stories, exciting interviews and groundbreaking research.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Scroll to Top