Can you visualize things in your head?

  • 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

    Iโ€™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 thatโ€™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. ๐Ÿคฃ I guess weโ€™re made for each other. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
    Itโ€™s bizarre to think that this is not normal to everyone.
    @chrisaakins I was a huge daydreamer in school. I wonder if thatโ€™s normal for number 1โ€™s. ๐Ÿค”

  • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜

  • 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 ๐Ÿ˜‚ It's amazing how different everyone's minds work

  • I'm definitely more towards the 1 end of that list for sure. The first time ever realized that there are people who aren't able to visualize things in their mind was when I saw one of those "draw a bicycle from memory" memes floating around on the internet.

    On a similar note, my wife and I had a conversation the other day about thinking in full sentences, versus fleeting thoughts/impressions. Kind of like a linguistic version of the challenge above. I tend to think in small fragments or lists, while she has entire conversations in her mind, sometimes playing multiple characters in the scenario! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • @Aaron_T it's all super fascinating. Where is your wife on the visualisation scale? I wonder if it's generally reverse correlated so people tend to think clearly in either words or pictures but not usually both.

  • @neschof I'm definitely going to ask her about the apple thing when I get home, but she's very visually-minded, I would say even more so than me, but we'll see. It's so interesting!

  • SVS OG

    I am one of those people with a constant voice in my head. When I finally learned to meditate, I was amazed at the quiet because I had never been able to shut up that voice. With visualization, I'm probably a 3 but can get to a 5 if I take some time and think about it. Even then, the colors in my visualizations are never very dominant or saturated (and color is my biggest hurdle in illustration.)

    I have tons of very complex dreams and sometimes don't even appear in my own dreams but the visuals are not as strong as the narratives are in those dreams. On the other hand, any time I try to explain a concept to someone, I immediately use visuals to explain it.

    I guess all of that means that I'm in the murky middle!

  • @eriberart

    Never seen the post, I am not on twitter much. But I am a 1 when it comes to apples at least. I struggle more with visualising space and especially like in a book when a certain space is being described I have trouble. But with an apple I can see it as a 1 and even rotate it or walk around it -but undoubtedly struggle to draw it as I visualise it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Edit* When you say visualise you don't mean if I close my eyes and in the great dark space I can see an apple right because in that case I'd be a 5, but what I was saying above is if I think about it I can visualise it but I don't actually see it. Does that make any sense?

  • @carlianne lols in most of my dreams I know it's a dream and go along with it anyways. A few times I tell characters in my dream that this is a dream and they are made up. And once only once or perhaps twice I said this is a dream and they did not believe me so I jumped out and jumped back into the dream and said there's your proof.

  • @Heather-Boyd yeah, this is where I think it gets tricky because different people mean different things when they say 'visualise'. I like the example below better than the apple (can't remember where I saw it so will try to type it out as best I can):

    Imagine a ball on a table. Describe what happens when someone pushes the ball.

    Now answer these questions:
    What kind ball was it? What size? Colour? Material?
    What was the table made of?
    What was the gender of the person who pushed the ball? What clothes were they wearing?

    So, did you already know the answer to all these questions (because you 'visualised' the whole scene initially) or did you have to make up the answers on the spot as you read the questions?

  • @neschof Wow, that's cool! It's so interesting to hear how you visualize time. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Months are a rectangular gameboard for me, and I visualize it in perspective. Summer at the bottom, fall and winter on the right, spring at top and left side. I move through the gameboard when figuring out dates, and it sort of stretches out into days and adjacent months when I focus in on a month. Years and decades are in a column with start of decades in bold, and centuries are in traditional timeline.

  • @TessaW that's so cool! I think we have very similar systems, just a slightly different flavour. my egg is also in perspective with the same moving around and zooming in! ๐Ÿ˜†

  • @neschof

    I focused on the how and less on the story, how a ball moves when someone pushes it. I noted the ball and I had a table and a floor but not the person and no to the extent of describing it all. If it was a story, I would have put more description into it.

  • SVS OG

    Interesting thread. I tend to have very vivid dreams filled with costumes and colours and dialogue - like a movie. But I can struggle with freezing images in my head ie the still shot of a scene. Typically, Iโ€™ll see a moving segment of what I am trying to capture when I try to pin down an illustration - leads to a lot of indecision. Very frustrating. Oddly enough though, I can hold snapshots of text in my head. something I trained myself to do when I did theatre and had lots of lines to memorize. Also how I memorize things like phone numbers - visualize them as text on a page and poof I can call them up no problem. Weird

  • Brains are wierd, y'all. Just sayin...

  • @Heather-Boyd lol that's so funny!! I wish I could control my dreams that way

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