Drawing problem! Help!!!

  • Hello guys!

    I'm Christina, and I decided to follow a career as an illustrator about 6 months ago.. Drawing all my life but some unfortunate events stoped me from drawing years ago. So, I decided to follow my dream and get back to it.

    Luckily I found SVS. What a treasure. Before that I was definitely LOST! Despite that, I deal with a serious problem.. My drawing skills came back very quickly with some practise but my imagination don't.. I can copy other artists work quit successfully, but that's not the point... The point is that I CANNOT draw anything from my imagination. Please I need your help guys to to get away from it! Any ideas that may help?

    (I am already taking classes here at SVS to master the basics.)

    Thanks a lot!

  • Pro SVS OG

    Hi Christina!
    I still distinctly remember the first time I could draw a human figure from imagination. I still have that sketch as one of the most precious things in my art career. Until that point, I thought there was something wrong with me....I could copy reference, photos, other artists beautifully but take the reference away and I wouldn't be able to draw a thing...and then everything changed (drumroll and cinematic music here..)..
    No, it didn't actually. That first drawing was a big moment for me, but the struggle went on. I needed reference to draw nearly everything for a couple of years still. By and by I could get away from the reference a bit more with every drawing. Yes, after probably drawing at least a thousand hands from reference, I can now draw a reasonably accurate hand in any position without it. But last week I needed to draw a dolphin, and so had to go and see what dolphins look like...
    Depending on your style, you may get away from reference completely or just change the way you use it. In either case, it's a long, long process...so arm yourself with patience and a big bunch of pencils..

  • Yes, I'm there with you. I have had a similar experience. It's tough, but it slowly begins to come back.

  • I feel your frustration. I am just getting back to drawing and trying to stretch my creative muscles for ideas from my own imagination. It is tough, but I agree with the thoughts already posted. It will come back.

    I have found that I don't give my mind enough quiet. I end up putting on a video listen to a movie while I am trying to think and then I get nowhere.

    I have recently begun looking through other people's drawing prompts and challenges. I can begin with them and then my mind starts to churn up a few more concepts to go with them. It helps me to try to think of a story snippit and then try to work up a fun way to tell just that little piece.

    Like I say, I am really just starting out all over again and I felt so lost. But trying to draw to other's prompts really did help me to begin to find my imagination again. Yours will come back too. It's there. You can do it!

  • Honestly, a lot of issues are solved by not worrying too much. When I first started taking my art very seriously, I was so worried about having a certain style. I worried about it all of the time, and it got so frustrating I would start having slight panic attacks to where I had to lay down and not draw or paint for the night. I eventually decided that I didn’t care about style anymore, and was just going to draw and make pieces anyways, and when I did that my style emerged right away. I also struggled with creating my own art. I was able to copy perfectly what I saw but couldn’t draw anything from my own mind. I took the design classes, and the perspective classes, as well as the draw anything class. I watched them over and over and to this day I still go back and sit through them and draw along with the videos. Also, coming into these forums, and being open enough to allow your art to be critiqued by all of us is vital. I would say, the more you want to know what you need to fix, and not so much worry about what you are doing the right way, things will correct themselves much faster.

  • I hear you on that. I also had a life event that stopped me from drawing for a while. Now I'm back in the swing of things, but I felt that I was faltering, that I wasn't as good as I ought to be. I felt stuck creatively, and it was an odd day that I could draw anything of value. So I took on a challenge. I wanted to get better at drawing action, adventure, and stories again, so I started to fill a sketch book every month. Some days I do draw from reference, some days I go places and I draw what I see. Some days I make lists of what I'd like to draw better and then I do a bunch of sketches of those things. I've only been doing this for 5ish months and I'm starting to feel a difference when I approach my art. I'm still not where I want to be, but now my days are closer to 40/60 on good/bad days to draw, and it's A LOT easer to actually FILL a sketch book in a month now than it was back when I started.

    I have seen other people do an illustration a day, or a painting in an hour. The question is, what do you want to get better at? Then go from there. More creative ideas? then maybe start your own sketch book. I asked many artists how long it took them to fill a sketch book and I would get 2 or 3 months as a response. I think it ends up coming down to draw more, and set challenges for yourself, but it never hurts to use reference to begin with.

    I wish you the best of luck!

  • @smceccarelli Well that was quit helpful! Thanks a lot! So, let's just draw and everything will be into place, hopefully!

  • SVS OG

    Thanks for asking that question. I am finishing up a project and then I've decided to just watch classes and draw for maybe a year before I start another one. I am going to follow the basic classes. I've had plenty of classes over the years but I think I just need to do more volume of the same things as Simona was saying. I also like the idea of filling up sketchbooks. I have several partially filled books and one of them is over 30 years old, more like 35 probably. I know areas I need to work on-several of them, before I start another book project. I might work on thumbnails a bit in between things but I really want to focus on improving.

  • A while ago I saw a blogpost from someone talking about the drawing from and without reference issue many artists seem to have. Unfortunately I can't remember where I saw it! But it made me realise that worrying about having to use a reference is as helpful as worrying about ... I can't really think of anything at the moment, but let's just say it isn't useful at all!
    If you want to paint in a live setting with an audience watching you, yes, being able to draw without a reference would certainly be better. But most of the time illustrators draw alone or with a few fellow artists in a studio. And they all use references too. (Until now I've never met an artist who doesn't use references. Apart from some famous artist from Japan, but I didn't actually meet him.)
    To speed things up it can be useful to train yourself into drawing certain things without a reference. Like faces or the human anatomy. What you'll learn to draw without a reference completely depens on what kind of things you usually draw or want to draw. You can built a visual reference sheet for those subjects. Draw the thing/being a lot and break it apart in shapes so you can remember how to build the figure later on. When you haven't drawn the subject in a while, just look back at your reference sheet and practise again.

    I've still got a long way to go before being a great artist (or even a good artist) but I learned that drawing a lot and drawing consistently is the key! SVS sure helps with achieving those goals 🙂

  • SVS OG

    Another advantage of doing lots of sketches is that you can build up your own “reference” material. After I do sketches from some live setting, I scan them (with my phone) and sort them into albums titled, “Faces”, “Animals”, “Landscapes” etc. When I need a reference, I start there to see what I have and do my initial sketch from my previous sketch and then go to real reference to get details right. The end result is much more “me” because time I re-draw it, I’m putting more of myself in it.

    Way before google (and I’m old enough to remember those days) illustrators used to keep a “morgue” of photos and magazine pictures sorted into the same kind of categories I use. It was very liberating to me the first time I read that illustrators used a morgue like that or even hired live models. Will Terry once said, “Every artists use reference. The ones with lots of experience or great memories file that reference material in their brains and the rest of us look at photos or live models.” He added that you’ll never find a perfect image so knowing anatomy and perspective is important but “imagination” may have more to do with experience and memory than innate ability.

  • Thank you everybody for your replies!!! It was really really helpful and now I know where I have to work so I can improve myself. Great advises from you all!

  • @christinaa Jake has a really good video on youtube and the title is something like: "Filling your creative bank account" if you search that and his name you'll probably find it. It really has a lot to do with the amount of pencil mileage and the amount of images you're looking at each day. Also - I might suggest drawing common objects like for instance a spool that thread comes in and turning it into a vehicle or the body of a robot. Creativity or drawing from imagination is the art of combining the unlikely or unexpected. If you give yourself an assignment like the one I just mentioned you WILL be drawing things you have never seen - from your imagination. It's often a fallacy that artists are gifted with the ability to just zap something right out of their brain - the associations they are making are trained and purposeful most of the time.

  • @will-terry I just saw the video and it helped a tone! I took the guidance that I needed. Feeling my creative bank account, taking the SVS classes and draw a lot I think are the key! Thanks a lot !!!

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