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Can you draw without reference?

No: it’s a bad idea to draw a large number of images, or to use image-processing techniques which don’t have a strong resemblance to the original image. A good rule of thumb for drawing without reference is to try to do it as closely as possible to the actual image, even if that means making some small changes.

The most popular method for drawing without reference is to just look at the picture, and draw whatever parts you notice.

However, if you find yourself really frustrated with the lack of detail in a picture, then you’re probably not trying enough to draw without reference – and it’s likely that the original image is so good that it’s difficult even to draw from.


However, there are a number of other ways in which you can draw without reference. For example, if you’re trying to learn drawing from photographs, and you’re drawing your own pictures from memory from various angles, try to think of a particular part of the image, and draw it in a certain way.

Similarly, if you’re drawing from video, use that as a reference, perhaps using a special technique such as the camera being moved, or from the same point in the video as at the start of the drawing.
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This is just one technique, and some of the many ways in which you can draw without reference aren’t always so obvious, but it’s the basic principle!

What is “good enough”?

To find out whether your drawing of the original image is good enough, try comparing the results to another image in the same scene that’s also been drawn. This can be achieved for any part of the drawing.

However, it’s particularly important to remember that this comparison is only valid for the part to be compared. For example, the drawing of an arm on a desk may look pretty good, but it’s not right if you compare it to an arm on a chair.

If, when you draw, you find that you’ve really succeeded in drawing the part to be compared, then your drawing is good enough, and you can continue to draw in this way, until it becomes unreadable, uninteresting or just plain bad.

If you find yourself having this experience, then you need to get off drawing, or at least consider quitting.

So, if you’re having such a problem, I suggest you get over it and get to work.

It’s also helpful to ask yourself, is your drawing the same on each