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10. Creative Drawing



Optional (but make sure to use some creative techniques. If just one is used, this one is suggested)

Description and Purpose:

This is a tool that encourages intuitive and creative thinking about the improvement of a current situation. The subsequent comparison of drawings enables participants to share their views of the present situation, and future possibilities, bringing forth shared visions and perceptions in the process. It can be used to gauge individual perception of a situation, or to develop a group analysis. It is a particularly useful tool in cultures with a strong visual tradition.


Introduce the idea to the group. Explain that the main purpose is not to produce a work of art, but to bring out ideas for discussion. If they cannot draw, they can use symbols or stick men!

There can be soft music playing in the background (music assists creativity and can help remove self-consciousness).

First, ask participants to draw (or depict!) the current situation on their issue. They can do whatever they like – there are no rules, and no prescription.

Let the group dynamics evolve. Often it is a simple matter of giving everyone a drawing implement and the opportunity to use it. Expect people to have reservations about their abilities, and encourage them to have a go.

Next, ask participants to draw their desired future situation (for the same issue).

When the drawings have been completed, gather participants around the drawings and ask the originator to explain each drawing. What was he depicting? Did they discover things they had not thought about before?

After examining individual drawings, compare these for similarities. Discuss similarities, and ask about marked differences. The placement and size of objects in the picture often indicates the relative importance of issues.

The interpretations of the group should be recorded for future reference.

Now discuss the difficulty of getting from the current position to the desired future situation(s). Do the drawings give any suggestions for a staged approach towards the ideal?


  • Drawings allow people to overcome barriers of social hierarchy or language. They give a voice to the less articulate, and often express opinions and feelings quickly and more clearly than speech.
  • People can see and jointly develop an analysis. It deepens group identity.
  • Expenses are relatively minimal, and if good materials are used, the ‘outcomes’ can be used at a later date for comparisons.
  • Wide range of potential applications from individual to communal work. It can be used for comparative analysis with drawings from participatory baselines compared to drawings from evaluations.
  • It builds a positive vision for participants to move towards, rather than a negative problem-solving approach (or moving away from something undesirable).


  • Drawings may be produced jointly by an organization, or by individuals, and discussions focus around them.
  • It can be useful to conduct this exercise with separate groups such as staff, board, animal welfare professionals etc. and then compare drawings in larger group meetings.
  • Ask each member of the group to draw their picture of the desired future, and then use these to contribute to a larger, group produced picture.
  • You can also ask members to divide a page into six boxes, to number these 1-6, and to draw the existing situation in box 1, the desired situation in box 6, and to draw the stages in between in boxes 2-5. This helps to demonstrate a step-wise approach towards the desired solution.
  • Be creative. Instead of drawings, try mosaics, symbols, collages, sculptures, ‘museum exhibits’.

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