Picture analysis in children


Why Are Children’s Drawings Important?

Children start drawing when they are good enough to hold a pencil and draw on paper. For children, painting is seen as a natural phenomenon. These pictures they draw are very important because; Children express their feelings with drawings, not words. They can express all kinds of positive or negative emotions through drawing, and we can predict their perspectives on the world, not only about their emotions, but also their communication with other people. However, it would be wrong to conclude from this that every child’s drawing has a meaning. Drawings can be drawings devoid of meaning, independent of emotions and relationships. Sometimes it is not necessary to do deep studies and readings to make sense of the drawings. Everything can be quite clear, or the child can be asked about the meaning of this drawing. Asking who the drawings are, what they are doing or where the place is can give a lot of information about the child. Children’s drawings clearly show artistic development and expression. They can be tools for assessing a child’s personality, intellectual development, communication skills, and emotional adjustment. Children’s drawings can also help diagnose learning difficulties.

What are the Developmental Stages of Children’s Paintings?

1. Scribble Period (2-4 years): This stage refers to the period when young children are just beginning to understand that pencil movements result in the lines and scribbles they see on the page. The scribbling phase usually begins at age two and lasts until the child is about four years old. At first, the child may only be interested in tracing the colors on the paper. Some children are more interested in the scribbles or signs themselves and may even look the other way while scribbling. While these scribbles may not make sense to adults, children tend to be happy even when they scribble. This state of discovery is very important in terms of both cognitive and motor skills of the child.

2. Pre-Schema Period (2-7 years): This stage begins around the age of four; however, it may start earlier or later, depending on the child’s social development. At this stage, people may have faces, hands, and even toes, but not bodies. (Ego stage of development) . These figures face forward and often have big smiles. These drawings often lack realistic details. Toward the end of the developmental stage, they begin to add certain things that set their minds apart, such as flowers in front of a house or clothes on stick figures.

3. Schematic Period (7-9 Years): The schematic stage usually begins at age seven and extends to age nine. At this time, the child has developed certain schemes or symbols in his mind for the people and objects around him, and he can redraw them constantly. Human figures have all the necessary body parts. (importance of ego) Arms and legs also fill rather than stick out. This is usually due to greater body awareness and recognition of what body parts are doing; for example, parts of the body allow the child to run, catch the ball, jump, etc. It helps. Adults often have very long legs because that’s how children see them. Images can now be on a fixed location line instead of in various places on the page. The sizes of the objects found here are almost the same at first.

4. Realism (Grouping) Period (9-12 Years): Here the child begins to develop more details in drawing people and determining perspective in drawings. The people they draw can have different facial expressions and movements. Colors are used to accurately depict the environment and more complex art materials can be used. Boys and girls begin to differ in the choice of subject. girls;while giving place to figures of women’s faces, clothes, houses, animals, boys more; they draw figures such as boats, airplanes, trains. Children in the Realism Period think long and hard about what to draw. As he develops mentally and emotionally as well as physically, what he has done so far begins to not satisfy him. He does not like his drawings, he does it over and over again. The best thing parents can do in this process is to prepare the environment for the child and to encourage him/her sufficiently.

5. Apparent Naturalism Period (12-14 years): The emotional fluctuations and self-seeking brought about by the adolescence period may affect the choice of subject and the way of reflecting oneself to the painting. It is known that he drew the human figure in great detail and used colors in the best way. He tries to convey details such as the movements of the human figure and the folds of the fabric into the painting. He tends to paint like adults and can learn about his deficiencies and correct them.

These stages depend on the child’s social skills as well as the child’s innate artistic ability or fine motor skills. In families that stay away from art or intellectual pleasure, the child’s painting skills may lag behind. Also, just because a child does not go beyond a certain developmental stage in time does not mean that the child has a cognitive or developmental problem. This pause in development may be due to the above mentioned social reasons, lack of interest or fine motor differences. Social conditions can also affect artistic expression and development by influencing the content, art setting, style and symbolic meaning represented in the child’s worldview.

Analysis of Colors in Children’s Drawings:

Children’s use of colors ”emotional” It can give pretty good details about the analysis. Children usually prefer to mix many colors rather than one color. From this perspective;

  • Light colors:It shows that children have a calm mood.
  • Intense colors:The use of these colors usually indicates active and energetic children with intense emotions, including aggression.

According to Color Types;

  • Blue: This color is associated with calmness, well-being and relaxation. It is usually a favorite of calm or reserved children. It also awakens a sense of creativity and sensitivity in children. It suggests that the child has strong self-control.
  • Red:Since it is a color that attracts attention, you can interpret its use in two different ways:

one-)If the child uses it frequently, suppressed feelings of angerIt can refer to a child who has

2-)If the child rarely uses energeticcan show that.

Brown:It is a color that represents responsibility.

  • Yellow: It is a color that shows happy children. It can be learned about the virtues of the child.
  • Green:Too much use of this color can reveal laziness and a certain level of shyness.
  • Black:Generally of depressionor an indication of feeling hopeless.
  • Purple:The child himself melancholicIt is a sign of being dissatisfied and restless.
  • Orange:If the child is dominant in his drawings, this is because he is a sociable and active child, oriented to contact with people, to act quickly.

Position of Children’s Drawings on the Page:

The child who draws on the left side of the page is a shy, introverted child; at the same time that the child is a caring adult or a caring mother or fatherIt can also mean that the figure is looking for its presence. Righta child who draws desire to communicateIt’s about an extroverted child.

A child who prominently places any drawing on the page self-confident enoughOn the contrary, the shapes drawn on the bottom edge of the paper or in a corner are the child’s self-esteem. insufficiencyIt also expresses your feelings.

Analysis of Line Thickness of Objects Drawn in Children’s Drawings:

  • Detailed:careful drawings can reveal a child who sees himself as inadequate.
  • Bold strokes:stress, strong emotions, determination or your angerWhile it may be a sign of soft marksindicates a softer nature.
  • Quality of the line: A light, wavy, dashed figure, hesitant who seems to be thinking as he progresses, low self-esteem reveals a child. In contrast, the bold, continuous, freely drawn line, your self-confidenceand sense of securityis the expression.

Meanings of Objects in Children’s Drawings:

  • Sun or Smiling Sun: Sun; It is a sign of a harmonious, happy, contented child.
  • Stick Figures: Stick figure drawings often depict the child’s family. Child’s picture themselves whereposition, who they stand next to (which shows who they feel closest to), which stick figure the biggestare important clues about the emotional and social state of the child, by seeing who he or she is most
  • Too Much Detail in the Drawing:The more details a child adds to the drawing, the more cognitive That means the more skill is developed. (or developing gradually.).
  • A Hole Drilled In The Ground: This is a typical drawing of a child with a recent loss. It is usually in the form of a death in the family, or it can also be the death of a pet. If the child is alone in the drawing, the child she feels so lonelymeans.
  • House or Houses: Interesting details you can note about a house drawn by a child include the number of windows, whether the door is open or closed if there is a passage to the house, etc. countable. More windowIt is an indicator of the development of the child’s sociability. an open doorShows a hospitable attitude.
  • Clouds and Rain:Seeing lots of clouds and rain in the picture may indicate that the child is feeling particularly anxious or frightened.
  • Angry People:A child who draws angry people, and especially family members angry, is probably emotional traumamay be alive.

Drawings by Gender:

  • Girls: Girls often draw round shapes such as flowers, hearts. They prefer to use warm colors. They use more colors than men.
  • Men: Men draw boxes and more straight lines, cars, buses. Unlike girls, they tend to use cool colors.

Children’s Drawings According to Emotions:

  • Impulsive Child: Large figures, the neck is not drawn and the limbs are drawn asymmetrically.
  • Worried Child: Clouds, rain, flying birds, no eye drawing can be seen on the figures.
  • Shy Boy : Extremely short figures, no nose or mouth visible. Limbs fairly close to the body.
  • Angry Boy: Large hands and teeth, long arms are visible.
  • Insecure Child: Monster figures, tiny heads, people without hands are seen.


1-) Draw a Human Test: (Goodenough Harris Draw a Human Test)

Draw a Human Test is an intelligence test administered to children. It is also called the “Goodenough Harris Draw a Person Test” or simply the “Good Enough Test”. Thanks to the test, an objective evaluation can be made by looking at the human figure that the children paint. A human draw test can be applied to children between the ages of 4 and 12. When giving instructions, children should be informed that there are no time restrictions. However, the test takes about 10 minutes on average. Usually, children complete their pictures within this time frame. Children are given the right to deal with drawing as much as they want and they are asked to make the best picture they can. If the paper is damaged during the test, the child is given a new one.

The pictures made for the Goodenough test are 51 key elements evaluated accordingly. (The elements will be given in the appendices.) Considering whether these basic elements are present in the picture, the children are planned to receive 1 point for each element. The number obtained by adding up all the points children get on the picture is calculated based on the generally valid norm chart. The equivalent of the score obtained by the child in the chart shows the intellectual age.

For example;your drawings;

  • Overemphasis of the mouth:The importance of food can be tantrums.
  • Large and striking teeth:It can be a sign of aggression.
  • Closed mouth:Keeping a secret can be a choice to keep information to oneself.
  • Wide grinning mouth:It can show a child seeking attention, seeking approval.
  • Other comments can be made about personality;
  • Big head:There may be emphasis on the child’s oedipal period.
  • Small head: There may be a state of feeling weak.
  • small eyes: May have strong visual ability.
  • Big ears:There may be hypersensitivity to criticism.
  • Little feet:It can be a sign of insecurity around him.

2-) Family Draw Test:

The “Draw Family Test” used in child psychology studies is a projective drawing test developed by Maurice Porot and based on psychoanalytic data. Applicable to children 4 years and older. The child is asked to draw family members. Inferences about the child’s social and emotional development can be made according to many features such as the way the child uses the paper, the details he uses while drawing his parents, the order, the colors. In addition, situations such as violence, abuse, ill-treatment, fear and anxiety that the child may have experienced can also be observed in the drawing test.

Evaluation of the Test:

  • Size and Location: The fact that family members or the environment are large or large indicates the child’s confidence in the family and in himself. On the other hand, it can be concluded that the child feels fear and distrust towards family members who are stuck in a corner and drawn small.
  • Lines: Drawings with angles and curves show energy and maturity. Drawings containing few figures and/or stereotypical and vulgar figures or individuals indicate that the child may be immature and also shy.
  • Boot Order: One aspect that therapists should consider is the order in which the child draws each individual. Children are usually the mother first or the one they feel closest to them emotionally. They draw the person. Another important detail that needs to be evaluated is the child’s drawing. It is the distance it leaves between different people.
  • Neglect of a Family Member or Members: This is an important thing to consider and keep in mind. Likewise, the negligence of one of the parents or siblings It can symbolize rejection. not drawing himself may be the reason why he feels lonely and lonely in the family. Child if he draws himself aloneAgain, feeling lonely in the family or similar feelings can be mentioned.
  • Paper Ratio: The figures drawn on the upper part of the paper suggest being detached from the realities and not having their feet on the ground, suggesting the characteristics of living in a dream world. Drawing only the lower part is associated with introversion, inadequacy, and depressive features. Here again, using the center of the paper and the fact that the people are on a ground line reflects the child’s healthiest mood.

3-) Draw a Tree Test: It was developed by a psychologist named Karl (Charles) Koch. Its purpose is to reflect the underlying emotional formations as well as our personality. With this feature, it is a projective test, that is, it makes what is happening in our inner world visible and meaningful on paper. This test can be applied from the age of 4-5 years. It is sufficient for the child to have acquired motor skills to paint.


  • Dimension: How much space the tree occupies on the paper is actually related to how central and valuable the person feels. In tree drawings where most of the paper is blank, the person’s opening up more space for others, self life narrows the field and cares lesswe can say.

If the space occupied by the tree and the remaining space are in the same ratio, we can talk about balance here. Person He/she feels the love, respect and understanding he/she feels for himself/herself and also for others..

If the area covered by the tree is quite large and there is almost no space, the person’s narcissistic self-worth, does not care much about the feelings and needs of otherswe can say.

  • Roots:subconscious emotional balance means. roots in illustration or from an emotional disorder and a personality problem can be mentioned. introversion, mood disorder, panic attackIt is possible to see problems that may occur with the deterioration of emotional balance, such as

If the roots are in the form of weak lines, the inability to control anger may appear as disproportionate reactions. Inability to manage mixed emotions in cases where the root lines coincide, for no reason restlessness confusion and a complex picture may arise, such as difficulty in making decisions. The situation where the root lines are parallel and slightly overlapping with a thick to thin extension tells us the person’s balance of your inner worldIt is the image that describes it.

  • Directions:The tree image is on the right future plans refers to the child who focuses on his or her concerns. The child is mostly interested in moving to the next stage rather than living in the present. Impatient and careless can be said to be. The tree depicted in the center of the paper in a proportional manner represents a child who can exist in the current situation and whose awareness and observation is sufficient. A tree drawn on the left is a child who cannot get out of the influence of past events or the mother your critical moodis an expression.
  • Body:your child his egomeans. He tells about how he sees himself. The trunk is evaluated according to the thickness that should be relative to the roots and the upper part of the branches, where the leaves are. A thin trunk compared to other parts of the tree sensitive and weak self could be a sign. It expresses that he is affected by external pressures and that he feels stuck and under pressure. If you have a very wide body intensely impulsive and uncontrollable shows the structure. A body of normal thickness and wavy lines, respect for self and others shows. Also this person ability to abstract and empathize It has a protrusion, cavity, etc. formed in the body. Some inner fears and traumas, which the person thinks exists in his body woundsicons.
  • Branches: small branches; Not significant until age 9. big branchesrefers to the higher cognitive development of the person who draws. Fruity and leafybranches, those who want to improve themselves in many subjects and dealing with different fields lovingShows people.


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Scoring Elements for a Draw a Human Test:

  • drawing of the head
  • have legs
  • arms
  • Trunk (Conformity of the trunk to the width of the length is also evaluated)
  • Shoulders
  • The condition where the arms and legs are adjacent to the body
  • Drawing of the arms and legs by adding them to the body at the right points
  • Presence of height
  • Drawing the neck as a continuation of the head and body
  • Presence of eyes
  • Presence of the nose
  • presence of the mouth
  • Two-dimensional drawing of the mouth and nose
  • Indication of the nostrils
  • The presence of hair and the harmony of the drawing
  • The picture is not clothed, that is, it does not look hollow.
  • The type and condition of the clothes in the picture
  • Finding the fingers
  • Correct number of fingers
  • Specifying the knuckles
  • Placing the thumb in the correct position
  • Showing fingers, hands and arms as separate parts
  • Correct display of shoulder and elbow joints
  • Presence of hip, knee, ankle joints
  • Proportion of the whole body
  • Two-dimensionality of arms and legs
  • Harmony of the combination of lines
  • Being in the right place and size with the presence of ears
  • Correct location of the eye
  • Presence of eyebrows, eyelashes and pupils
  • Presence of chin and forehead parts
  • Presence of chin protrusion
  • Having more than one wrong profile drawn

Each item is worth 1 point.

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