Learning to draw pictures from the head

Many people envy the fact that you can draw pictures completely from your head. How to do it. how to learn this are then the most common questions.

As someone who primarily draws from the head, I describe once in this article how others can do the same if they want to. &

Definition of "drawing from the head

It is understood that you can put motifs, whole pictures, on paper without using a template.
So you don’t draw anything, you create the drawn itself and transfer it from your head to your drawing paper.

Different drawn bears

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantage is that one is not dependent on templates. You are freer and can express yourself more creatively.

Last but not least, the admiration you get for drawing something from your imagination is also very great, precisely because not everyone can do it.

The clear disadvantage is that you have more "logic errors" in your picture. Say: perspective, proportions, anatomy, light& Shadows are not always coherent or realistic. You can tell from a picture that no template was used.

But these disadvantages can be eradicated with practice and experience. Even if you draw comics or mangas, certain aspects are important to make a picture look coherent. With the right techniques, pictures created from imagination look very realistic and believable (if intended).

Chimpanzee with Polychromos

My beginnings

Like most people who draw, I started as a child and painted and drew more aimlessly and just for fun back then.

Since it suits me, I went ahead and put on paper things that were haunting my mind. Admittedly, the first pictures looked very childishly naive, but I kept going and drew picture after picture without any goal or pressure in my neck, just because I was having fun.

At some point, when I was already in secondary school, my preferred painting medium was the ballpoint pen. I liked the smooth glide of the ball on the paper. Pencils I always felt more as scratchy.

Because the ink of the ballpoint pen can no longer be erased, had to so I inevitably get every stroke right right away.

Even though I hardly ever worked with templates, it was not difficult for me to draw objects believably in school. Certainly, the fineness of the technique was still lacking, but it was enough to always get good grades, because I was the best in my class in art.

Drawing an eye with ballpoint pen

Drawing techniques

In order to bring pictures from the head believably and casually on paper, some drawing techniques are helpful and/or. mandatory.

You can draw on classic drawing techniques, such as grids or basic shapes or. Use guide lines. They make it easier to structure and construct the motif. But the aspects below are not to be neglected.

Experience and imagination

The most important thing of all is open-mindedness and a good eye for details and features. If you have the patience to look closely at your surroundings, remember details and pay attention to every little thing, you can use this to create pictures.

In addition, a good imagination in combination with the experience (memory of objects, important features, contours …) are among the most important to be able to draw a picture from the head.

So you go back inwardly to what you have seen somewhere before, even if in a modified way. Because looking at alone is one side of the coin, who can think really well and abstractly, goes beyond that and can change the seen in the head (z.B. a different perspective or details).

It goes easier by hand with the necessary practice.

Drawing from the head with ballpoint pen


And here we are at THE secret of every artist: practice.
Because if you don’t practice, you can’t (achieve) anything.

Clearly I can’t draw an animal super realistically immediately after seeing it and internalizing it. because the transition from thought to hand movement drawing the lines with the pencil is difficult. To improve hand-thought coordination (comparatively to hand-Eyes-coordination), regular drawing is necessary.

Being able to draw well comes from drawing. If you have a picture in your head, you can only put it down on paper by drawing if you have done this more than once. It doesn’t matter if you use the same pose and perspective over and over again, once you get the hang of it, (slight) variations can be done more easily.

Drawing from my head with pencil

Studying anatomy (for human or animal images) is also helpful. Because if you know how a body is built (bones and muscles), you know its natural movements and can therefore reproduce poses and perspectives more realistically.


I have reached the "stage" of drawing where templates have become important to me. Because the imagination also has limits. It’s just easier to make anatomy and poses using templates.

Details and decor (embellishments), as well as foreground and background design, also work better when you get new input.

Getting ideas and being inspired works better if you look beyond your own leaf and observe what others are doing or what reality (or illustrations on photos) shows.

Measure template with pencil

Draw from the head by tracing

Drawing can be helpful if you want to do without templates and models sooner or later. If you draw a lot, you can train your hand (line work and hand-eye coordination) and learn something about how objects, people, animals, plants, comics… whatever, are constituted.

But: Who of others drawn or. drawing from painted pictures, you learn a bit of (foreign) peculiarities and styles. Especially with comic drawing resp. with mangakas I noticed this phenomenon extremely. Since you can use "solutions" (facial expressions, distorted eyes, mouth, hands, etc.), you can’t use them.), which one likes, of other draughtsmen into its own pictures takes over one immediately with drawing characteristics.

Good: you learn how others do things and don’t have to reinvent the wheel
Bad: under certain circumstances one stands in one’s own way in developing one’s own style

Portrait with pencil

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