Can you visualize things in your head?



  • Hi guys! I saw this post making the rounds on Twitter and found it really interesting. I can't visualize things at all in my head - I am a '5' on the scale. Never realised this was a thing people could do! Maybe this is why I like drawing, as I can see the things that I can't in my head!
    I was wondering what the break down of people here is like. Do creative people tend to visualize better, or not at all like me hahaha :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_cold_sweat:



  • @eriberart I can visualize it fine, but it doesn't always translate to a nice drawing, so I still need reference for illustrating.



  • @eriberart this whole thing is really fascinating to me. I was noticing that a lot of the wonderfully brilliant and successful professional illustrators on Twitter were saying they are a 5 and then there was a great discussion about how that possibly forces you to work out the design on the page rather than just seeing something in your mind and trying to draw it straight off. (though of course there are great artists all along the spectrum).

    This article contrasts the process of a 1 and a 5 working together at Pixar:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/health-47830256

    I think I am maybe a 4. I see fleeting, moving, blurry snippets. Something like trying to remember a dream.

    Instead of trying to force that cloudy image in my mind to become clearer, I've decided I should extract the feeling of it into keywords, and then work out the design on paper instead.



  • @Laurel-Aylesworth Yes, I suppose it is similar to seeing things in real life, not many people can make a perfect copy of something in front of them!

    @neschof That's an interesting article. I was speaking with my partner about this last night. He is a very strong 1, and he couldn't believe I couldn't visualize. He assumed my visualizing must be very strong as I am an artist!
    I think it probably doesn't make a difference really, as you don't know any different from how your own mind works. I can't imagine being able to visualize things so this doesn't effect my work.

    I wonder if it's genetic, when I asked my mum she said she is a 5 too.



  • @eriberart so interesting. I am a super strong visualizer and it never occurred to me that others couldn't. I wonder if that correlates to reading. If you can't see the video in your head while you read, it would be a chore.



  • @chrisaakins I had a discussion with my book group about this a little while ago and we came to the conclusion that it probably affects the kind of books you like to read. I get very lost reading any detailed descriptions of action scenes with more than a couple of people. Where people are, how they move in relation to each other. I can't hold it in my head and end up mostly glossing over it and extracting the main outcome "so X has been shot and Y has the diamonds. Ok, moving on...". I find battle scenes so boring!



  • Wow, interesting. It's hard for me to gauge where I am, but I'd have to guess I'm at a 3. I know that I do assign visual ideas to concepts. Is that a long the same line? I'm curious, when you guys think about the months of the year, do you guys visualize anything? Not necessarily each individual month, but the months all together in the year.



  • @chrisaakins @neschof interesting, I actually love reading, especially fiction. I don’t visualise the story in my head though. I’ve never given it much thought but I do tend dislike when books are super detailed about little things (I’ve never finished a Stephen King book for this reason😂)
    Some people also struggle when books are made into movies as the actors are so different from what they imagined, but this has never bothered me either



  • @TessaW I don’t visualise anything at all. I just have associations and feelings when I think about certain months. Like I might associate October with pumpkins and falling leaves, but I don’t actually see those things in my minds eye



  • I can visualize in my head. I never realized there were people who couldn't. There's this book, 'The Cube' where you're asked to visuslize things that together create a picture that when interpreted says things about you as a person. I have had a handful of people do this over the years and no one has ever told me they can't visualize the images. Not only that, the interpretations have been really accurate, every time.



  • When I read a story I get completely trapped in my head and don't realize what is going on around me. I do the same when I daydream. I also heard of people who don't have an inner monologue. They don't daydream.



  • @TessaW said in Can you visualize things in your head?:

    I'm curious, when you guys think about the months of the year, do you guys visualize anything?

    Yeah, I've always had a very clear and specific idea of time in my mind. A year is an egg shaped dounut with segments highlighted for months / seasons / holidays etc. But they're not sized according to actual time, more how I experience them or their importance. Years / decades / centuries form a sort of angular helix.



  • @deborah-Haagenson I actually did this test with friends as a teenager. I remember being asked to visualize the cube in the scenario (I can't remember what it was exactly). At the time I didn't realise people could actually visualize this cube, I thought it was more of a metaphor. I just made up my answers on the spot! I never brought up the fact I couldn't actually see these things because I didn't realise other people could



  • I'm probably more of a 3 or 4 on the scale. I can visualize things a bit but they're vague and blurry and in pieces so it's not my main way of thinking.

    I asked a bunch of my illustrator friends this question a while back and got answers across the board but, at least in my very small sample size, it seemed that the people who visualized things less in their head tended toward a more graphic style, working out what it looks like on paper, and those who visualized more tended to do more work that deals with perspective and depth from their imagination, as if working more from a reference. I know people who can paint their friends or places they've been just from memory, which is CRAZY to me, because my memory is mostly just the concept of the thing, with a bit of a blurry picture to go with it.

    There's a great podcast I listen to called "Stuff to Blow Your Mind" where they talk about lots of interesting stuff with a bit of a science background and they did an episode on Aphantasia (not being able to picture things in your mind). It's really cool if anyone wants to give it a listen.



  • @chrisaakins I love to read but I can only picture little snippets or blurry images in my head. I agree with what some other people have said that descriptive passages don't really add much for me unless they're relevant to the story or written in a poetic way to evoke a certain feeling. I think this is why I don't really like reading comics as well, because I find it harder to keep track of what's happening (I can appreciate the art though!). I think in words and concepts so books and podcasts are easier for me to interpret.



  • @eriberart That is very interesting! I might ask a few of the people I did this to whether or not they actually saw the images in their head. A similar thing happened to me recently, which is off topic, but interesting. I am always in a hurry and never feel like I get enough done. Even though I do have a lot of down time too. My Mother is always on the go. Sometimes you can hardly see her feet move as she walks across the floor. I made a comment about always feeling in a hurry. She said, I never do. Not in my head anyway. I said, are you kidding me?! How can you not. So, I'm in a hurry in my head, even when I don't need to be and she has every reason to feel thay way and doesn't. I can calm myself down by drawing for example, but I'd like to be that way all the time.


  • Moderator

    I’m a one. I did the ball experiment on the reddit post linked in the original post. I just did the ball experiment with my husband, to think of a ball on a table that’s pushed. Our answers were almost exactly the same. The person and table were the same. The difference was his ball was a dodge ball and mine was the Pixar ball. 🤣 I guess we’re made for each other. 😃
    It’s bizarre to think that this is not normal to everyone.
    @chrisaakins I was a huge daydreamer in school. I wonder if that’s normal for number 1’s. 🤔



  • I am a 1-2. I did the ball visualization too and in my mind I had created an entire room that I could draw every detail. I asked my husband and he couldn't describe anything. I asked him "did you visualize??" Lol. I have vivid dreams and can draw entire dream spaces after waking. People are more blurry to me though...I can't visualize what I or anyone else looks like, they are just blurry shapes.
    I also do not have an internal monologue...I have to speak my thoughts or at least move my lips or mutter under my breath. I think hearing myself in my head would drive me crazy 😂 Even when I read I don't hear myself reading...I read super fast though. Very interesting to read about how everyone's brains work 😁



  • This is blowing my mind because I'm for sure a 1.

    For the people who are a 5 do you visualize when you dream? I often have dreams that are so real it takes me hours to realize it was just a dream.



  • @carlianne I don't dream often but I do visualize when I dream, but I tend to forget my dreams pretty quickly. I know they are vivid though. I read an article where apparently a guy was able to teach himself how to visualize!

    @KaraDaniel I find it so strange that you don't have an internal monologue 😂 It's amazing how different everyone's minds work


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