Rapid Failure – How to Memorize Complex Objects

What it is.

Dog
An example of using Rapid Failure to memorize dogs.

 

The Rapid Failure method is a technique for memorizing the combinations of simple forms that, when combined together, create something complex.  Everything we perceive can broken down into simple shapes, which is a key principle in drawing.  If we memorize those shapes we can develop a mental roadmap that allows us to depict whatever we want, whenever we want.

I developed this technique while looking for a way to incorporate spaced repetition in drawing, thus allowing me to draw from memory.  I wanted something simple and quick and so far, it’s worked.  Here’s how to do it.

 

How to do it.

helecoptor
RF for an apache helicopter.

 

1. Baseline

  • Attempt to draw the object from memory, as best you can.
  • The drawing will no doubt be abysmal, but it’s important that you record a starting point for later comparison.

 

2. Observe

  • Open up Google and look for clear and precise reference photos, all from various angles.
  • Don’t dive too deep into details or anatomy just yet — look for large forms that you can commit to memory.
  • Compare the reference to your previous attempts.

 

3. Memorize

  • Put the reference away and draw the object from memory.
  • Focus on one or two major shapes, and draw them several times from several angles.

 

4. Repeat

  • Look for your mistakes a calibrate accordingly.
  • If you feel inclined, try drawing the entire object.

 

Benefits.

horse-02
RF for horses.

 

Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to every single quadruped that lives or has lived on planet Earth.

 

As the name implies, it’s important that you move rapidly.  But when I say rapid, I don’t mean move the pen as fast as you can — it means to not stop, to move steadily and continuously and to fail with purpose.

Use a pen.  It should be obvious that you’re not going to be erasing anything, and you want your lines to be bold and visible.

Working this way provides some great benefits…

Instills confidence.

  • When you fail on purpose, the fear of getting it wrong evaporates.

Improves line quality.

  • Line quality comes from confidence and control.

Increased awareness of form.

  • Form is paramount to a good drawing.
  • If you focus only on large shapes, you’ll naturally become bias towards depicting form over detail ( which is a good thing ).

The shape, form and construction of various objects is transferable.

  • Once you understand how to draw a dog, that knowledge is transferable to almost every single quadruped living on planet Earth.

 

If you have any questions, agreements or feel like antagonizing me, or a way this technique can be altered and enhanced, do me a solid by leaving a comment below.

Good luck, and have fun failing.

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2 thoughts on “Rapid Failure – How to Memorize Complex Objects

  1. Can I skip the step of drawing the memory object?
    Another question, how long did it take you to make each page of the photos you show?

    Like

  2. You can do whatever you want as long as it gives you results. But, it is easier to remember things once you’ve simplified it. Our memories are limited, so we need to use tricks to remember effectively.

    As to your other question, each page took less than an hour.

    Like

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