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Drastically Improve Your Art Skills the Fun Way with Cognitive Drawing

Cognitive drawing 90-day workbook
Cognitive Drawing 90 Day Workbook Review

I am part of Timberdoodle’s review team and received this copy of Cognitive Drawing for review purposes. I received no compensation for this post.

Why Drawing Should Be Taught as a Core Class

Now here’s an unpopular opinion. I think every school should teach drawing as a core subject and not as an elective or art. Think about it. Drawing is, essentially, communicating with marks on paper just like writing. We draw to communicate and to pass on information. How many times in your adult life have tried to explain something to someone and wished you could just draw it out, but you “aren’t good at drawing”?

We would have no building blueprints, clothing patterns, or patents without drawing.

11-year-old boy working on Cognitive Drawing.

But I’m No Good At Drawing. I’m Not Creative. I’m Not Artistic

If we can reframe drawing as communication, rather than some ephemeral gift some have and others don’t, we will all benefit. Think about it. We expect every student, barring some major issues, to learn to read and write at a basic level. Most adults can hold a pencil and communicate through writing. So why do we believe that drawing is a magical talent some have and some don’t? I’m not talking about award-winning art here, just the ability to communicate through drawing. I believe 100% that these skills can be taught because I’ve seen them work with my own children.

Child drawing in Cognitive Drawing workbook.

Cognitive Drawing Workbook

I am so excited to be reviewing the Cognitive Drawing Workbook. I have used a variety of books over the years to teach my children the basics of drawing. You can see both the books we’ve used and the amazing progress my children made in this post, The Best Books to Learn to Draw Realistic Portraits at Home.

The Cognitive Drawing Workbook takes the student through each step of the drawing process. You aren’t just picking up tips and tricks, but training your brain to see and recreate an object.

According to Timberdoodle’s website, “Suppose you want to develop long-term memory on a particular topic. A proven method is to replicate the facts or image from recall, check your work, and repeat as you progress through new information. Referred to as the testing effect, this is the basis of Cognitive Drawing, and it is a unique approach to learning to draw anything from memory. Developed by a former Hollywood artist, Cognitive Drawing will guide your teen through the steps necessary to quickly improve his drawing ability.”

Cognitive Drawing has easy-to-follow comic book style instructions.

How Cognitive Drawing Works

In the first lesson, you look at a drawing of a leaf and then cover it and draw it from memory (you can see Apollo’s first attempt in the photo above). Next, you draw the leaf again, this time looking at the picture. Then, you cover all of your previous drawings and draw it from memory again. Next, you draw it a final time looking at the example image. The progress 11-year-old Apollo made in a singe session was incredible!

Cognitive Drawing works on a combination of practice, brain training, and memory work. You (or your student) will make progress with this method.

Cognitive Drawing Workbook is a 90-day program, though you can certainly go through it faster or slower if you want. Each day is broken down into clearly laid out instructions. The comic book style is fun to look at keeps the mood light.

Special Features of Cognitive Drawing

One of the best features of this book is that you can jump right in and start with no prep. There are no long, complicated instructions to follow. Page one literally begins with four simple rules, and then the student is ready to begin drawing.

Kids can work through Cognitive Drawing independently.

Age Recommendation for Cognitive Drawing

According to the Timberdoodle website, this book is appropriate for ages 8 and up. I personally think most eight-year-olds would struggle become frustrated. Not because the instructions are difficult, but because most don’t have the fine motor skills for this level of precision.

Cognitive Drawing has easy-to-follow comic book style instructions.

Easy-to-Follow Comic Book Type Instructions

My 11-year-old son, Apollo, is using this book. He could easily work through it on his own but prefers for me to work alongside him. Because of this, I read each section, and stay beside him as he draws. Having said that, a child age ten or old who is a confident reader could easily work through this course independently.

The built-in flap helps cover your work so you can draw from memory.

Built-In Flap on Cover

The cover of this book has a flap built in (see photo above) for you to use when the directions require you to cover an image and draw from memory.

Single-Use Workbook

This is a single-use workbook and I know you frugal mamas out there are doing the math in your head at $25 a pop…but when you compare this to the price of 90 art lessons, I think you will find this a bargain.

The Cognitive Drawing notebook will turn into a portfolio for your child's work.

Easy Portfolio

Because Cognitive Drawing is a bound workbook, your child will have a convenient portfolio as they work through the course. No need to store work or progress in a file somewhere, it is all right here in the book.

Cognitive drawing 90-day workbook

A Thorough Drawing Class

Cognitive Drawing is broken down into 90 daily lessons. As you probably know as a homeschooler, your child can work through the book faster or slower. The book does recommend not doing more than two lessons a day (and I agree) because you are literally training your brain to see and recreate images and the fatigue can be real. Apollo happily worked through the first two lessons on his first day.

An example of lessons in Cognitive Drawing.

As a homeschooling mom who has used many different art and drawing books over the years, I recommend this for ages 10 and older with no reservations. I think kids younger than ten will likely struggle, not with the instructions, but with their results.

Ten-year-old Apollo working on his drawing lesson.

Cognitive Drawing can be purchased alone, but is also part of Timberdoodle’s 11th Grade Curriculum Kit.

As always, I recommend Faber-Castell Colored Pencils and this Dual-Hold Metal Pencil Sharpener.



  1. Ahavah

    This is such a good post and I so agree. Being comfortable with basic drawing skills opens up way more doors and opportunities than people expect. Will check out the book!

  2. Ahavah

    And from your experience, do you recommend any different support for children learning art who struggle a little with visual processing (harder time learning to read and differentiate letters, etc.)

    • Renee

      I think the most important thing is developing the muscles and brainpower over time. For muscles, any fine motor skills. Cutting, tracing, writing, etc. I really love Montessori insets for training the drawing/writing muscles. Spirographs are great for that too. Also, some 10 years olds are ready for The Drawing Textbook…it is out of print, but great if you can find a used copy.

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