Challenge Drawing from Memory

Drawing Challenge: Sketch on Location and Finish the Drawing from Memory

by Zamali
0 comment 4.9K views

Back in 4th grade, I remember a classmate asked me if I could draw a cartoon character. I was surprised how it was expected of me. I remember that drawing very vividly to this day. I did and I was amazed how could draw something so complex like a character completely from memory.

I’m sure you did draw things in childhood from memory like Mickey Mouse and other favourite cartoon characters. Then with time, we forget what we are capable of. Everything we see is memorised and we are able to recall and it’s not much different to drawing something from life. It still relies on memory, short term memory, in this case, to be precise.

So on this post, to help you push the comfort zone and the boundaries of your skill, I share with you an exercise that I do at least once a month, in the form of a challenge. It comes in 2 parts.

If you are stuck for ideas or you’d feel more motivated in a group. I recommend you join an @Urbansketchers community – They have regular excellent Free outdoor sketching , painting and drawing events organised all over the world. Urban sketchers Events

Draw Challenge: Do a quick sketch on location and complete the drawing at home or later. From Memory NOT using reference​



  • I use a graphite 2B (fast, not very forgiving, but very fast).
  • Sakura Micron Pens. When I have more time
  • I use a Charcoal for indoor and when I use a larger paper or sketchbook.
  • Learn more about drawing material from this excellent article by Jackson’sArt 

Challenge Steps:

  1. Use only one medium; pen or pencil, no colouring
  2. Draw only 20-50% of what you intend to capture in the artwork
  3. Take 1 picture only from the same angle (but don’t use this picture for reference)
  4. You can paint the final artwork but for the initial rough sketch no colour
  5. Constrain your time to only 1hr 50% on location and 50% for completion.
  6. Later, your challenge is to try to finish the drawing from memory and not refer to the reference photo.
  7. Lastly, take a picture of your finished piece and send it here to be featured in our art club gallery.

On Location

Very fast sketch of the Guinigi Tower in Lucca Tuscany

Lucca from Imagination

This watercolour and ink was done entirely imagined from memory no reference used. 

Lucca from Memory

Acrylic of Lucca from memory and reference to first sketch


Draw Challenge from Memory Submissions

You may also like

Leave a comment (no links / no follow)