Memory Sketching Challenge – Get Better Exaggerations

Drawing from memory. It sounds pretty hard, like something only
a few naturally gifted artists could do, right? Actually, drawing from memory is something
every artist does already. Technically you can only draw from memory. When drawing a person, you look at them for
a few seconds, and then you look down at your paper to make your marks. So in that moment, you are drawing just from
your memory of what you saw. Most of us repeatedly look at the subject
every few seconds while drawing. The more time you spend observing your subject
while drawing, the more accurately you can draw it. If you’re doing a traditional portrait that’s
what you want to do. Quicksketch caricature artists, on the other
hand, do better exaggerations when they don’t look at their subject too frequently. They take mental snapshots of the subject,
and spend the vast majority of their time looking at the drawing. I got my start as a quicksketch caricature artist. So I speak from experience. When drawing a person live, I found that if
I look at the subject too much, I’m more likely to draw a more portrait-y sketch with a timid
exaggeration. But when I spend less time looking directly
at the subject, I rely more on my memory or my impression of what I think they look like. And I tend to get better exaggerations. That’s because memory is not perfect. When you rely on your memory, the things that
stand out as unusual or different from the norm make the strongest impressions. If you try to recall what Jay Leno looks like,
for instance, what you would remember most are his more distinctive traits, like his
big chin, jaw and white hair. That’s not all there is to nailing his likeness,
of course. But that’s a great starting point for designing
a caricature. So, if you have difficulty coming up with
the initial exaggeration and don’t know which direction you should stretch the proportions,
a great exercise to build your caricature muscles is sketching a face purely from memory. Procedure To do a memory sketch, you’re going to study
a photo of a person for 30 seconds without drawing anything. When the photo disappears, you’ll draw a caricature
of it just from your memory. As you study the photo, run through a mental
checklist of characteristics that stand out. I find it helps to analyze the features in
the order that I would normally draw them. In my case, I first decide on what the head
shape will be. Is it tall and thin or short and wide? Where is the head widest, where is it narrowest? How does this head differ from the average
head? How does the hair relate to the head? How about the eyes? Are they high or low? Are they close together or far apart? Is it a big long nose or a short upturned
nose? Scan all of the features, and then try to
see the face as a whole and how all the pieces fit together. And then, with the photo gone, try to sketch
as quickly as you can while the impressions are still fresh in your mind. Starting with the head shape is usually the
best way to go. Because once you have the head shape in, it
helps you to place the features in their proper relationships. The shape of the head is the most important
factor in determining the level of the exaggeration. Once it is established, you can just sort
of plug the features into the right places. If the most distinctive trait about someone
is a feature like their eyes or nose, you may want to draw those features first and
build everything around them. But personally, I think drawing the big shapes
first is more effective. You can do these sketches as quickly or as
slowly as you like. Treat them like quick thumbnail concept sketches,
or you can spend longer on them and develop any of them into more of a rough sketch if
it’s turning out well. But remember, the point of this memory exercise
is not to get a beautiful portfolio piece. You’ll probably throw most of these sketches
in the trash. It’s simply a technique to help you strengthen
your visual memory. The individual results here really don’t matter. You shouldn’t worry if you don’t get a great
likeness. Just doing the exercise, lots of times, is
the goal. When you’re done, you can take a look at the
photo again and see how you did. At first, it’s likely that you will miss some
important details of the likeness, like I did here. But keep practicing. This kind of exercise is like weight-lifting. You need a lot of repetition to build those
muscles. And just like at the gym, you’ll get stronger
and better at drawing from memory the more that you do it. And as you get better, you should reduce the
amount of time you spend looking at the photo reference. After doing some 30 second memory sketches,
try studying the photo for only 15 seconds. Eventually, work your way down to a 3 second
glimpse of a photo. At that point, all that you can do is take
a mental snapshot, without any detailed analysis. You will be reacting and drawing purely on
a visual and reflex level. And that’s the place you want to be at. That’s when you should notice a big improvement
in your thumbnail sketching abilities. I know that it sounds really hard to get a
good likeness with only a 3 second glimpse of your subject. And it can be. But personally, I find that I do better exaggerations
the less time I spend looking at the subject because I’m drawing more intuitively, from
my gut. When you’re still learning, if your memory
drawings are even slightly recognizable, you can give yourself a pat on the back. You’ll get more consistent results as you
build your caricature muscles. Assignment To practice memory sketches at home, use the
photo reference from the link in the description and time yourself while you study each face
for about 30 seconds. Hide the photo and then do a quick thumbnail
caricature sketch. If you discover that you’re getting good likenesses,
but weak exaggerations, spend less time looking at your photos. After a few 30 second sketches, do some where
you study the photo for just 15 seconds. And then try some 3 second sketches. Remember, you don’t have to draw them that
quickly. Spend as much time as you need on the sketch. What’s Next In our next lesson, we’ll be learning a really
fun and useful exercise for pushing your exaggerations. We’ll be doing caricatures of our caricatures,
and then doing caricatures of those caricatures! Bwah! It’s a great way of getting out of your comfort
zone. Premium Content For premium students of this course, there’s
a more detailed version of this lesson. Also, we’ve put together some training videos
that show the photo reference for 30 seconds, 15 seconds and 3 seconds along with a convenient
timer. Use them to help you do your own memory sketches. For inspiration there are also some videos
of my own sketches done from memory. I’ve included several celebrity memory sketches
AND sketches done of some of you who submitted your photos. Get the premium course to access more in-depth
instruction and be part of what supports the creation of these lessons.


  • watchshaydraw DRAWING

    am i first?

  • Reaction Dude

    Luv it

  • Dairon Jimenez

    First yeahhhhhhh

    Like please

  • Bird Sandwich

    How did "how to make a ds explode" bring me here?

  • Yep G


  • Deidre James


  • Tesf

    I'm the 7th comment aye oh and i actually get this video

  • Proko

    What Youtuber should Court caricature next?

  • nano gintama

    oliwhite tv please

  • Alexander Andersson

    Why do i love these videos so much?

  • Frankie Cardona

    we need a vid on the ass

  • MyArtJourney

    I love drawing people from memory, it's fun to study them while conversing and they never even know!! Muhaahaha! X3

  • Ozzy V

    I'm really liking these caricature videos.

  • parth kapadia

    quick sketch should be in real life portrait too… not only in caricature

  • h2er80

    Brilliant advice thanks!

  • 8 CountSports tv

    Great advice/Video

  • Frankie Cardona

    really on the butt muscles

  • Sadek Aberie

    Great lesson! Quality content once again! You guys have revolutionised online art tuition.

  • Ryden Williams

    Jacks films make his foe head huuuuuuuge





  • Himanshu Sachdeva

    i am unable to find the link for photo refrences….could u help….thanks…

  • Bill Schiffbauer

    I never thought about it that way. True. Cool. I think I just felt some branches growing in my brain.

  • Adrian Lapadatu

    May I ask you where got your setup for digital caricatures from 1:20?
    Also what it contains if you don't mind…

  • cyncad!

    Just a quick, off topic question, but do you plan on doing videos about drapery in the future?

  • Saurav Kushwaha

    Proko looks a bit different today.

  • DrawingManiacSterben

    for me is big obstacle not to draw from memory.. i love drawing just from my imagination.. but i have to use references etc to get on that level 🙁 😀

  • Brandon Morgan

    Ethan Klein from h3h3

  • Miguel Rodriguez

    créeme que aprenderé a hablar ingles para ver estos vídeos, lo hare

  • 26jori

    sick video! and very informative. I do have a suggestion: often times viewers will inquire about what specific tools were used to create the drawings, so i think i could be helpful to just list those tools in the description. Of course the tools don't make the drawings, the artist does, but tools can make a difference as far as technique and look. For this video are you using black conte on bond paper? A kneaded eraser?

  • Quarter Mile

    Any one still waiting on leg anatomy?

  • Gail Lacey

    What a terrific approach! I can't wait to try it. Thanks!

  • Dramawind

    I have a question, can we submit a caricature on the Facebook group to be critiqued, without purchasing the premium course and without using an abstraction to make it?

  • Van Nguyen

    Can U Help Me Draw this picture? Pls

  • Siamboi V

    Man!! You're awesome

  • Drawing and Sketching

    Thank you!!! I always said this to the ones around me, and none of them believed me. Definitely showing them this

  • Donald Mumper

    Looks like Ben Affleck mixed with the dude, Castiel, from Supernatural

  • JT Norton

    Best series on you tube

  • Darlene Young

    This seems like a great exercise. Thanks.


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