I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil (which is such a cliche thing for an artist to say but its so true), and yet I have had to work hard to rely less on reference photos when drawing people. It’s often hard to remember what a body does, how it moves when it’s at a certain angle, and what correct proportions are.

Yet (as I am am aiming to create mainly picture books), the most beautiful and interesting characters don’t always rely on correct proportions, so long as they exude feeling. 

There is definitely a time and place for using reference photos, but incorporating a daily practice of drawing people from imagination is as valuable to an artist as free writing is to a writer.

Here are ten reasons why drawing from your imagination is super valuable:

  1. You don’t have to spend any time searching for the right photo
  2. You can see what images come straight from your mind
  3. You can look out into the world for reference 
  4. You can form your own style of drawing people
  5. You will create more unique characters
  6. You will vastly improve your drawing
  7. You will start to visualize the person’s face on your paper
  8. After a few weeks or so of daily practice, you will become a happier human being
  9. Through the people you draw, you can see inside your mind more vividly 
  10. You don’t need any fancy supplies, a good mechanical pencil and a cheap sketchbook will do