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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