Fun Drawing Games

Paper, Board, and Digital Drawing Games

Chances are you've already played at least a couple of these traditional pencil-and-paper games or their modern equivalents in board game or mobile app form. There's a surprising variety of game play to be had with a humble pencil—from competitive point-scoring on teams to cooperative comedy.

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Draw Something

"Draw Something" is a massively popular social drawing game created by OMGpop that is playable on a multitude of web-enabled devices. There is a limited free version plus a paid full version. The game involves being offered a choice of three words of ascending difficulty to choose and draw. The "opponents" (or perhaps more correctly partners) must guess each other's drawing correctly for both to score points and progress the round.

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The analogue precursor of "Draw Something," "Pictionary" has been a party favorite for many years. It requires participants to draw a random word which their team must guess—a variation of the old favorite "Charades." It sounds quite straightforward, but some of the words can really stretch the imagination—not to mention the drawing talents. At times a straightforward illustration works, but more often players attempt cryptic style clues or left-field approaches along the lines of the Charades' "sounds like....."

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Quick on the Draw

Players are divided into teams, and the drawer on each team must draw as many objects as possible in one minute, which their team must then guess to score a point. Find a cute online version on the BBC show—"Quick on the Draw with Bear Behaving Badly."

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Dots and Boxes

Calling it a drawing game is a bit of a stretch, but this game is surprisingly absorbing and competitive. A traditional pen-and-paper game, "Dots and boxes," which is also called "Capture" or sometimes "Connect the Dots," involves drawing straight lines between dots on a grid to "capture" territory. This can be played online at the official UCLA website. 

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Draw and Fold Over or 'heads bodies legs'

This is traditional pen and paper game for children and adults alike. A piece of paper is folded into three, sometimes with small tick-marks across the fold to mark where the body begins and ends so that the drawings will match. The first person draws the head and folds the paper back to hide their drawing; the next player draws the body, then the third the legs. The drawings can be random—whatever the person has in mind—or themed. A popular themed version might be to select a profession, sport, or animal. The similar game, usually verbal, is also called "Exquisite Corpse" from the Surrealist artists' version of the game. "Pick and Mix People" is a board game equivalent with pre-made sections for young children.

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Broken Telephone Pictionary

"Draw and Fold Over" meets "Telephone." Also called, humorously, "Eat Poop You Cat" or EPYC, perhaps based on some particularly garbled creation from the game. The first person is given a sentence that they must draw. The next person guesses the sentence based on the drawing. They fold over the original drawing, and the next person draws based on their sentence, and so on. The results can be hilariously nonsensical. There is a published board game version called "Cranium Scribblish."

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Identikit Board Game

In this crazy version of playing at being a forensic artist, players listen for 90 seconds while someone describes a picture, and then they try to draw it. Identikit is sometimes described as reverse "Pictionary."

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Art Gallery

"Art Gallery" is a lovely cooperative pencil and paper game in which everyone creates a work of art. Each member of the group takes a turn to name an object, which every member then includes in their own drawing. In one variation of this game, players secretly choose objects first, so as to increase the challenge if participants are likely to choose very themed or easy objects (such as book, hammer, broccoli, teacup as opposed to sun, trees, mountains).

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Draw and Pass Along

A variation on "Art Gallery," each participant begins a drawing, then passes it to the next person to continue until every paper has been drawn upon by everyone in the group. As with "Art Gallery," this game can be varied by deciding on elements beforehand, either deliberately or randomly. A short time limit can be useful so that drawings are not too detailed too quickly. Themes can include landscape, portrait, or still life objects. For an art class, consider a culturally themed artwork, using elements of traditional pattern from different parts of the world. Instead of written or verbalised prompts, visual items—pictures, postcards, or even objects—might be used.

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Alphabet Landscape

In this additive game, participants are challenged to draw a landscape picture, adding items for each letter of the alphabet in sequential order. This game is great for encouraging imagination and lateral thinking. It's interesting to see who works hard to make an addition fit logically, and who ends up with something surreal. This game may be frustrating for youngsters who struggle with drawing from memory. It can be helpful to provide some examples to use as models for people who get a bit stuck.