What To Draw Part 3 – From Your Imagination

This is the third post in a series about how to find things to draw. The first post is Don’t Know What To Draw? Draw Everything!, and the second is What To Draw Part 2 – Easy Scenes.

Shapes and patterns are everywhere and our imaginations are always trying to put a name to them. We see faces in bunches of leaves, animals in the stars, and otherworldly flora in the texture on a wall. So, if you’ve ever done a double take to check if you really saw what you thought you saw, take it as a sign that your imagination is healthy and you can rely on it as an ever renewing source of drawing potential.

There are lots of traditional ways to access that creative reservoir of drawing goodness but, as with everything in life, there’s an app for that!

Computer Assisted Imagination

Meander Drawing

Drawing made with the Meander app.

The drawing to the left was made on an app called Meander. Just touch the iPod or iPad screen and lines go strolling in all directions on their own. I wasn’t trying to draw anything when I “generated” this image, I just wanted to watch the pretty lines grow. :)

But, I see lots of images in these lines now. Two of the strongest are a face and a snake with wings, and I could definitely draw them, and fill in the missing parts too, because they’re so clear to me.

Image created with Alchemy.

Image created with Alchemy.

And if you’d like to try some full-blown creativity software, there’s a neat program called Alchemy that lets you easily generate fantastic mishmash images with a combination of lines,  gradients, shapes, patterns, colors, brushes, and you name it! (There’s even a brush that responds to sound.)

The one thing you can’t do with it is make a representational drawing. (At least I can’t.) Alchemy tickles your imagination into creation mode by giving it lots of visual  toys to play with.

Roll Your Own

If you want to take a break from being plugged in all the time, here’s an old fashioned way to get your imagination’s attention.


Play with felt tip pens.

Dance, skip, and hop a pencil across some paper.

Close your eyes and feel where the line wants to go.

Use graphite, ink, crayons, or whatever is handy, on whatever paper is nearby.



People are storytellers, so look at your scribble and tell yourself a story about what you see. Then think about which story images appeal to you the most.


And Then What?

You’ll probably start with a drawing concept instead of an entire piece with all the details worked out, so don’t over-think this or you may never begin. Your drawing idea will grow to completion in its own way though, if you have the patience to let it.

There are as many ways to get the images from your head onto paper as there as artists, so I’ll tell you about some of my techniques and maybe they’ll help you come up with your own.

  1. To get a three dimensional and “real” look, I keep the lighting the same throughout the drawing.
  2. I often use the side of the pencil to quickly express an idea because of the range of line and texture that’s possible with that pencil angle.
  3. I let myself edit the drawing as I work by listening to inner prompts that say things like, “move that … make it darker … now larger … add more texture here … less there.”
  4. And then, if I’m lucky, an image finally appears that reflects a little bit of what my imagination was able to dream-up.

So what are you waiting for? Find a pencil and draw something phantasmagorical.

ps – There is no such thing as failure when you’re dealing with creative invention. There is only discovery.

About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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