Have some questions? Want answers? Got some good tips? This is the place to ask, or answer, questions regarding art tools, and methods.

Moderators: Ambiguity, SeaQuenchal, virtueone


Postby EnJoopla » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:28 pm

Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:41 pm

Subject title: Learn/Master drawing from reference before drawing without?

I'm practicing to draw from imagination. But i also notice my drawing from reference is really weak, so should i just focus on drawing from reference first before imagination?

I mean i know how to make the drawing the same as the reference if you give me enough time but it does take quite a bit of time and i'm thinking that if i could draw from reference practically perfectly really quickly that will help my drawing from imagination? Or are they both completely different skills?


Postby Ambiguity » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:15 am

User avatar
Posts: 5535
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:55 am
Location: Your dreams

"I mean i know how to make the drawing the same as the reference if you give me enough time" - Copying a photo reference should never be your goal, understanding it should.

You might be able to get an exact copy of that image by a lot of careful proportional and angle measurements, along with comparative tone matching, but can you figure out what the underlying forms are, where the lighting is coming from, and how the materials are reacting to that light? Can you make the forms read even stronger than what is present in the photo? Can you imply unimportant details? Those are the type of things that are good for your imaginative drawings(a long with the visual library building you get from studying lots of different things), and that's what you should be focused on. Incidentally, this where master studies can also be helpful, because they're basically showing you the answers to a lot of the problems, you just have to be really observant about how exactly they are doing it. Actual life drawing is good too because it adds another step of you having to translate 3 dimensions convincingly to a 2D page, photos automatically do this for you on the other hand(and in some aspects they actually do it poorly).


Postby Moe » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:19 am

User avatar
Posts: 1172
Joined: Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:16 am

Well, being able to draw what you see isn't a useless skill to have, so I don't see the problem in copying photos to improve your ability to copy. Granted, you don't want to stop there but if you're an absolute beginner it's definitely a good place to start. As for drawing from imagination, you get better at what you do. Being a great copy machine isn't necessarily going to translate into great imagination skills.



Postby DarkLored123 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:42 pm

Posts: 315
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:18 pm

In my opinion you should work on using your imagination to pull off drawings because that actually forces practical application of knowledge that you need to know to get the results which are the fundamentals, although even as you train your skills it will never be a straightforward road you'll need to figure out what works best for you. I personally saw results as soon as I started using my imagination, it simply forces your brain to make use of the knowledge learnt and the more you practice the better you get at it.

If you want to do some reference drawings, sure go ahead but it wouldn't really be beneficial as long as you don't understand the elements behind it. You can easily copy it but replicating the perspective, proportions, and so on is a whole different matter, which is why getting practical knowledge first is important. Like said above, you should try to understand the reference rather than simply copying it, if you can pull knowledge from it, you will only benefit from it.


Postby Josephcow » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:57 pm

User avatar
Posts: 846
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 9:46 pm

Your imagination is powered by what you observe in the physical world.

So I would recommend drawing from reference. Preferably life, so there is no photocopying involved. Of course I'm biased because observational drawing is what I enjoy personally, but I certainly don't think it would hurt.

It's not that drawing what you see is a prerequisite for imaginative drawing. but I feel like if you can't draw something from observation, it indicates that you don't understand it well enough to draw it without.


Postby biosphere » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:10 pm

User avatar
Posts: 372
Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:16 pm

As long as you're not straight up trying to copy a reference 100% and instead work on understanding how it's been constructed and work that way.....

Then think of it like this: How do you expect to be able to draw something you can't see ..... if you can't even draw the things you CAN see.

Return to Art Questions and Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest