The 50% rule: FAQ nº3: drawing without reference.

2:26 PM, Monday January 17th 2022

Sorry if my english is weird, I'm not a native speaker.

I'm just starting Draw a Box. I'm finishing lesson 0 and the 50% rule is something I'm still trying to understand. I was ok with it until yesterday, when a new version of that part was uploaded. The third FAQ, suggests that we have to draw without reference (or "you can go ahead and use reference, with one major caveat: you may not simply work from a single reference image, effectively copying it as it is").

I've been copying drawings from pinterest for sometime now, and the results for a beginner is ok, I believe thats called a study, right?

But the idea of just drawing from imagination paralyzes me. My mind goes blank. I have no idea WHAT to draw. I know its okay if the results are bad. Should I draw cars like in Uncomfortable's childhood drawing examples? Should I just doodle? Just draw whatever comes to mind? Should I stop thinking that much?

It know the results are gonna be bad. The problem is I want to be bad the right way, ha.

5 users agree
2:41 PM, Monday January 17th 2022

If you're finding it harder to get yourself to draw from imagination then try the other route of drawing from multiple references to see if you can ease into that better.

Beyond that there's no right way to be bad in regards to the 50% rule. The goal is specifically to deal with that fear of drawing things that aren't just exercises. Literally anything can be drawn. If you have a specific goal in mind with your drawing (aka character design, realism, webcomics, etc.) then try starting with that.

11:11 PM, Tuesday January 18th 2022

Thanks Somethingx! That's great advice!

5 users agree
4:16 PM, Monday January 17th 2022

I understand your problem. I have also just started and I don't really know what to draw sometimes. I have two suggestions.

There are a bunch of daily drawing prompts online. I use one to give me a boost when nothing comes to mind to draw. I often use references to have some idea how to do something. My prompt the other day was "Mouse with a tiger mask". I didn't know how to draw a tiger mask, so I found a google image. I didn't copy it exactly though. I changed the angle of how I drew mine but tried to keep the same structure of the original. I think that is what uncomfortable means.

The other suggestion I saw recently was: Draw the same thing everyday for a period of time. A week, a month. Draw the same subject everyday. Maybe you choose apples. Everyday draw a least one apple. I think choosing something simple is a better choice. After you draw your apple, Is the apple in a bowl? on counter? a worm in it? Someone is eating it? You get the idea. The simple thing leads to more complex ideas.

Both ideas remove the "What should I draw?" question from your mind and lets you focus on drawing. I also find that once I am drawing, ideas start to come into my imagination. I started drawing the top of a building the other day. It was a very simple shape. Before I knew it, there was a superhero standing on it and an angel sculpture on the building. It was not a good drawing (yet), but I was drawing from imagination. I hope this helps.

10:24 PM, Wednesday January 19th 2022

I also find that once I am drawing, ideas start to come into my imagination.

I totally agree. Some of my best ideas come once I've been drawing for a while. Exploration is so important, and it's a lot of fun.

3 users agree
8:06 PM, Tuesday January 18th 2022

Hi matForestani,

somethingX, drusk and scoobyclub already gave some excellent advice.

I've been there myself. And here's how I go about it when I struggle to find ideas:

Since there is always something going on in the human mind, I just grab one of those thoughts and try to make something out of it. And that's basically all there is to it.

But to give a more detailed insight here's an example:

I just thought of a book. So if I'm already thinking about it why not just draw it and since I'm currently at lesson 3 why not make it a book about plants. But how? Well, just lets grow a plant out of the book that should make it obvious, oh and drusk mentioned apples with worms earlier. Lets throw that in as well. Result:

Just like somethingX mentioned you also can transform this simple idea of a book for your specific goals. For example: If you're into character design maybe draw a dwarven book seller. You like landscapes more? Than draw a library on a hill next to a leafless tree.

Just try to find things you like and that you want to draw. Then just go ahead and draw it no matter what the result might be. And if you find yourself really not knowing how something might looks like, than look for reference so you can incorporate it into your drawing.

I hope you get the idea.

1 users agree
11:31 AM, Tuesday January 18th 2022
edited at 9:49 PM, Jan 18th 2022

Yes, just doodle. See where that takes you.

The process of studying and the process of creativity are almost opposites which is why the 50% rule is so necessary. Creativity is where the most resistance is found and this resistance needs to be chipped away at. Remember that these drawings are only for you and not for public display.

edited at 9:49 PM, Jan 18th 2022
11:14 PM, Tuesday January 18th 2022

I like that idea of chipping away at creativity's resistance.

Yeah, I think keeping that bad drawings just for me helps a lot when it comes to dealing with frustration. Thanks Scooby!

0 users agree
2:44 AM, Wednesday January 19th 2022
edited at 2:45 AM, Jan 19th 2022

i got a lot of help from this

edited at 2:45 AM, Jan 19th 2022
1 users agree
11:23 PM, Wednesday January 19th 2022

My current understanding of the 50% Rule is to spend half your time having fun while drawing. Doing the exercises is the active part of learning (the 1st 50%), and playing should be the second, subconscious part (the 2nd 50%).

You can use reference, but don't feel you have to copy images exactly; use them as guides for your own creations and borrow elements from multiple images to compose your own. You may have already watched Drawabox Lesson 0, Part 3: Changing your Mindset and the 50% Rule, but I'll add it here since Uncomfortable discusses the option of using multiple reference photos to create a single drawing. You may also find it useful to do a study of a reference image with the intention of understanding some specific aspect of it (e.g. the 3D volume/structure) and then trying to reconstruct what you understood without looking at the reference. Later when I'm drawing for fun, the things I studied and understood start to find their way into my "fun drawings" without my having to stress over them.

Try to remember what got you excited about drawing in the first place. Make a list of all the subjects you love to think about, do, and draw; then draw those things. Try to combine the things you love into new ideas and draw those too. For example, one day as I was looking for random connections in my list of things I love, I made a connection between Ironman and octopuses and got the super cool idea to draw an octopus version of Ironman. How cool is that! I've been having so much fun exploring what that would look like and designing how it could work -- hours of fun from such a simple idea!

As a kid I could draw very freely, but as I tried to improve my skills and focused more heavily on exercises, I had a more and more difficult time drawing for fun. I was gaining technical skill, but was losing creative skill (they're both skillsets that require practice). I really love what Uncomfortable said, "If and when we become as skilled as we could possibly dream, what would we spend our time drawing?" (Drawabox Lesson 0, Part 3: Changing your Mindset and the 50% Rule) THAT is what you should draw right now.

I'm currently using the following practices to implement the 50% Rule:

1) Doodling - Every morning I draw for at least 10 minutes. What I draw doesn't really matter; draw anything that comes to your mind (I got this idea from Flint Dille in this video: Study Art Like You’re Playing A Video Game - Draftsmen S3E19). No self-judgement. Just play, like you did as a child, not to impress anyone, but for the fun of it. Many times that 10 minutes turns into an hour of enjoyable exploration of an idea(s) including a lot of drawing and journalling of my thoughts. I usually have to force myself to stop because I want to draw more.

2) Personal projects - Remember that list I mentioned -- the one about things you love? That comes in really handy here. I sometimes use the list as a source of inspiration when I'm not sure what to focus on. As I alluded to earlier, one of my current projects is exploring how an Ironman-octopus mash-up would look and function. By the end of it I'll probably have a few finished drawings and paintings and a lot of sketches, doodles, and notes.

Do try your best to have fun with it. I hope this helps.

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