A drawing game for engaging teenagers


Comics are made up of lines, shapes and words. In this blog I wrote for JKP, I talked about a game I play to help build relationships, using lines, shapes and words. 


Here’s how you play it:

Shapes, Lines, Words

You will need paper and pens, and 2 or more people. 

1. Explain that you will take it in turns to draw a line, a word or a shape on the paper. 

2. Do that until you’ve created a picture. Towards the end you can stop taking it in turns and just finish the picture together however you want. You can encourage rapport by mirroring things they’ve drawn, or contributing in a way that brings it all together. For example if they draw a circle one side, I might draw another on the other side. Also, TOP TIP – if you put two circles in any enclosed shape, they can become eyes. 

3. Create a title for the masterpiece by taking it in turns to write a word. Underline the title and everyone signs their name. 

4. Ask the participants to tell a story about what is happening in the picture. 

I played this with a young person on our second meeting and this is what we created (see pic below). It’s entitled ‘This is Bob, are you ok?’ Everybody loves Bob because he makes them feel good by asking if they are ok. 

I found out that Bob is a bit like a teacher at school, who everyone goes to when they get angry or upset in class. We chatted about this for the rest of the session, which is what’s good about this game because it helps you to communicate initially without having to use words, and that can gently lead on to conversation. You don’t have to be able to draw well because you’re just contributing shapes, lines and words – which is actually all that drawing is anyway, but this way you don’t know where it’s going. If there’s a group you can reflect on what roles people took – who added colour? Whose contributions were bold? Reserved? Who drew things that didn’t connect to the picture? Who brought it all together? You can do this lightly to explore group dynamics, without having to get all Sigmund Freud about it – more curious than analytical. And you can pick out meaning and metaphor from the game by talking about how in the beginning it doesn’t look like your random marks on the paper could look like anything, but bit by bit an image starts to emerge and by the end the image tells a story.

My book, Cartooning Teen Stories, contains many more drawing games for working with people. You can get a copy here: http://www.jkp.com/uk/cartooning-teen-stories-33893.html



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