Can you visualize things in your head?

  • 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. 🙂

    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. 😮 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! 😆

  • @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, I’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

  • This just popped up in my youtube feed randomly. It's a tedx talk about people who can't visualize. I didn't search for it, so either it's a coincidence or maybe is google using my forum activity to recommend youtube videos to me? 🤷🏻♀

    It's not as interesting as the convo here, but I guess people who can't visualize have what's called "Aphantasia".

  • Really interesting post. I was only a 1 on the scale which is surprising! Couldn't think of much detail at all 😃

  • @TessaW, I am a 5, and rarely a 4. I don't visualize anything regarding a year made up of months. If I think of individual months, I am like @eriberart, and just think of things associated with that month but don't see anything at all.

    @neschof, It's enough for me to think about people seeing clear images in their mind. When I hear people like you seeing patterns, colors, movement, etc. associated with abstract concepts, it is extremely foreign, but fascinating.

    I heard of a man who was bad at math, then got a concussion, and suddenly started seeing elaborate mathematical patterns in everything around him.
    Here's an interview with him:
    Here's his TED talk:

    Oh, I just realized this post is from a couple months ago. Someone linked to it from the post about the recent podcast:

  • I feel like I'm a 1 and a 5 at once. Say Apple, bam there's an apple. red, shiny, one green leaf. But it's kind of dissociated with anything. Any specific details? No..., Can I get close up on it? if I really think about it. Can I turn it? Again, I have to really fix on that. It's kind of there and not there at once. To make it more real, I have to draw it or go find an apple, or get a picture of the right kind of apple. I also have a sense of the apple - it's essence, if that makes sense???? It exists as more than a visual thing in my head. Now that I think about, I also get a sense of the taste of the apple, how it smells, how it feels - but it's just a glimmer. There and gone in a moment.
    It's kind of how my dreams are - kind of in nether state and very susceptible to any other fleeting notion that pops into my adhd brain.

  • @eriberart said in Can you visualize things in your 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

    This article says, "Ed Catmull, 74, has the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot visualise mental images at all.

    And in a surprising survey of his former employees [at Pixar], so do some of the world's best animators."

    It also says, "He spoke to colleagues and learned that some animators could form mental images so strong they would open their eyes and the image would still be there, so they could practically trace what they could see."

  • @chrisaakins, I like to read (mostly fiction) and I don't see anything at all in my mind. I think I read slower than average (I have to pause videos to read the whole thing, if they show a note, for example), but I've never thought of reading as a chore per se (it would depend on the content, not the actual process of reading).

    I haven't noticed descriptive text bothering me, except when they repeat a previous description. If the story says, "Her blue eyes sparkled like the ocean." I don't want to hear that phrase again in the book (or even the series—if multiple books—to be honest). I'm always thinking: "Words are your JOB. Use a thesaurus!" But maybe I tend to choose books that don't happen to have very descriptive writing, and I would be bothered more, if there was more description.

    I don't like most poetry. Maybe the fact that I don't "see" their metaphors has something to do with that.

    So what do people who can "see" what they read—see when there's some crazy metaphor?

  • I dream a lot...I can control my dreams. In fact, I was in a dream the other night and my mother in law was there and she was mad so I decided to go ahead and wake up haha.

    Here is my understanding on visualizing. A photographic memory is not a gifted skill it is a trained one. I heard it on a ted talk.

    There are ways to practice this and other memory techniques.

    A simple one is to sit a dark closet with a flashlight and a picture or list of text. Shine light on the piece until you see it and shut the light off. Keep visualizing it until the mental image is gone and repeat it theI started my 11 year old on this a year ago and he says it helps a lot for his tests.

    On the flip side I learned some other mindsets when drawing.

    Like focusing on shapes and just building as it goes. Like in layers. Peter Han and Kim jung gi are good for this type of art. With enough practice you can build and bend the art to your will. Once you are able to recognize the brief times you can keep building upon that. This is what I am currently doing while I learn more and more about different aspects ... shape Theory, color theory, proportions, perspective, tones and values.

    Anyways that is enough rambling on. Be encouraged and enjoy the process. Have a blessed one!

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

    A photographic memory is not a gifted skill it is a trained one.

    It's definitely both.

    I personally knew someone in high school that had a photographic memory that didn't even know that was a thing until she became aware not everyone can remember everything they saw. So she could look at, not read, a textbook page, and know all the answers to a quiz on that page because she could go back to the memory of the text book page and re-read the answer to the question.

    That kind of innate ability gap is prevalent everywhere, quite a bit in art because it's so apparent. Some people can learn to be incredible painters that have very little natural aptitude (Marco Bucci does a really interesting talk about his natural inability). Or we could learn to be amazing piano players with years of work while some children naturally are able to pick it up and write their own music within months.

  • Children are the beauty of the world. They process a genuineness that so many adults get striped of over the coarse of time.

    Could a person not have been draw to a practice simply because they love to do it regardless of knowing what it is exactly. For your friend who has but didn’t know doesn’t mean they were just gifted with this skill. It could also be a possibility that they were drawn to a practice that builds it up naturally without even intentionally knowing it was a practice.

    I believe that it is that intuition and natural unconscious practice of said thing.

    For example I do not listen music and sounds like my cousin does. She has a keen awareness to music notes before she knew what they are. Didn’t mean it was something untaught just means it was a natural attraction to an aspect of life. Constantly practicing before she knew what practicing was.

    I still do not believe that people are allotted a gift. Or you are just “born with it.” I have four boys and at every birth I learned that they were totally dependent on me with no abilities, but with endless amount of potential. Watching them grow I recognized glimpses of what guided them to be who they are. Still there is much unknown. I do believe people can have a better understanding of different aspects of life even at a younger age. I just believe that people work at these things during their life especially in their childhood.

    The brain is the instrument of knowledge, the mind is the use of knowledge and the conscience is the manipulation of the brain to produce mind.

    No worries at all. Thanks for the reply and food for thought.

    I’ll give another example. Kim jung gi explained that he was drawing 3D shapes in kindergarten when the other students were learning what shapes are. Many would say that he was gifted with the ability to see in perspective. However, he would tell you it came with practice. Not just our typical idea of practice but also the tasks here and there that enhances our abilities that we do not even know is practice.

    Anyway much love and have a blessed day!

  • Moderator

    @Miriam I don’t like poetry either and I think your reason really fits with why. lol

    When I read I have a clear picture of characters in my head and I get really annoyed if there is a movie made after the book and the characters don’t look anything like what I pictured. Lol.
    For the same reason I don’t like to see a movie before I’ve read the book because I want my own interpretation of the characters and not the movie star in my head... unless it’s someone hot and then it’s okay. 😜

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