Building a visual vocabulary

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    Arjun Khode

    Hi Matt. This week I watched an artist talk and although he was someone who leaned a bit towards the absolutes, he said this one thing about drawing from imagination, “Don’t just copy, build your visual vocabulary”. He said that when he used to do studies, his brain used to go into auto-pilot “copy mode” and he couldn’t draw from imagination despite doing studies. He then said that he started ‘isolating things’ and that worked for him.

    I’d love to hear your opinion on how to build a visual vocabulary.
    Does it include memorizing stuff?


    Hi Arjun,

    I have been using that same phrase for many years. I mention it often in the how to draw the figure from your memory course.

    There is a process, it’s just tedious and to some, a bit too much.

    You first draw from a model or a good quality photo of a model. You definitely will want to spend some time on the drawing. Looking at the model at least fifty percent of the time.

    After you have spent an hour or longer looking and drawing. Then do you best to draw that same model from you imagination. This process will hurt your brain when you try to remember the pose.

    I almost always try to remember what certain negative shapes look like. I start there. I also use the techniques taught here on the site. The torso peanut shape and in the past the rough skeleton.

    I can talk to this in the podcast. The process of drawing like this will most definitely build up poses in your mind.


    Arjun Khode

    Thank you so much for the quick reply Matt. I will definitely be watching your drawing from imagination course this week. I applied your method last night and I am learning so much from trying to remember what I drew and then drawing it from memory! I try to imagine it from other angles and draw it too. I have a 3D anatomy software that helps me verify.

    Looking forward to the podcast!

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