You are here

Drawings with descriptions

I learned this from Omi Yusuke and Tada Keisuke, students in a course I teach at Meiji University, in Tokyo. I like the way the gradual addition of features, and the inclusion of non-human elements, leads to an "exquisite corpse"-like creature. The addition of a complete object at the end creates an interesting contrast with the piecemeal creature. The creature's uniqueness makes it an interesting object for description and imaginative writing.

The Flow:

Participants pair-up or form groups of no more than four.

Step One

The Jokers show participants two paintings (drawings, sculptures) in different styles, one more realistic, the other more surreal or abstract. Jokers ask the participants to talk for five minutes about what they see in each picture and how the images differ.

Pairs or small groups share their answers (this can go quickly).

Step Two

Jokers than give each group two pieces of paper, one for drawing, the other for writing.

One the whiteboard, jokers write an item to draw and tell people they have one minute to draw it on the paper. E.g.: "1. The shape of a head"

In each group one person draws the shape of a head on the drawing paper.

The jokers then add to the list:
2. The torso

Group members take turns drawing as the list grows. Each time, the jokers pause to let people draw after they add an item to the list.

The jokers' list has about 12 items: Legs, Arms, Nose, Mouth, Eyes, etc. It can include A Tail, Wings, A Tattoo... anything the jokers like, but needs to have enough items to make a complete figure.

When the figure is finished, the jokers ask the groups to draw one full item, e.g. a snake or a house. Again, just one minute to draw.

Step Three

Still in small groups, one participant is the scribe and the others dictate a description of the creature they have drawn. The description should be written such that upon hearing it a person could identify the creature in a line-up. They have three to five minutes.

Step Four

Whole group.
The Jokers collect the creatures and hang them on the board for all to see. They collect the papers with written descriptions, shuffle them, and read them aloud, one at a time, pausing after each description to let participants guess which picture it matches. (The group that wrote the description should not play, obviously.)

(Alternative: after the pictures are posted, everyone chooses a picture and writes a self-introduction for the creature: "Do not be afraid! I have long sharp teeth but a friendly smile. I live on nectar and dew and visit only when you are away...." When time is up, people take turns reading their descriptions and others have to match the creature to the self-introduction.)

Game Categories: 
Publication Status: