Most readers who've asked me about drawing from imagination weren't talking about abstract art, but rather said they wanted to bring their creative vision to life - to draw a picture in their mind, realistically - a fairy or dragon, or a more everyday scene. Then there is that "gosh, you drew that from your imagination !?" factor.... So, whether you want to illustrate a SciFi story or impress your friends, here are some tips on drawing from imagination.
1. Imagination Draws on Memory
Drawing from imagination is really drawing from memory - just really long-term memory, putting together bits of memories to make something new. Suppose you want to draw a mermaid. You draw a woman with a fish-tail and long hair. You are putting together memories - a fishes' scales, a magazine model, a rock from a landscape picture you've seen somewhere. No matter how far-out your imaginings are, you are still using elements of reality.
Leonardo da Vinci said "You cannot draw what you cannot see". Most artists, even cartoonists, use real life observation as the basis of their drawings. Fantasy artists have models to pose for them. The Anime artist of Cowboy Bebop bought a real Corgi dog so he could observe it moving around the office. Sometimes artist make models out of cardboard and play-doh and toy animals and light them with a desk lamp to help them visualize their scene.
two-point perspective until you can do it without thinking about it. When you are creating a drawing, use perspective and accentuate its effects to strengthen the three-dimensional form.