How Young Children Try to Plan Drawings

  • Norman Freeman


In their development, most children leave a trail of drawings behind them. They are the most reliable and enduring of spontaneous childish artifacts. Their study appealed to the “natural history” instincts of the late Victorian era, and formed a valuable source of propaganda for advanced pedagogues who wanted tangible evidence that the “child mind” really did differ significantly from a small-scale version of the adult mentality. With the manufacture of cheap paper and pencils it became possible to amass vast amounts of data; and the study of children’s representational drawings was one of the first areas of child psychology to become established as a field of research. The 1890’s saw the inauguration of massive works which were outstanding in their scale of conception, amount of raw material amassed and accuracy of observations. Certainly by the end of the 1920’s the number of potentially testable hypotheses which had been produced formed a strikingly coherent corpus.


Body Part Serial Position Effect Plan Drawing External Frame Salient Edge 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ABERCROMBIE, M.L.J. & TYSON, M. C., Body image and draw-a-man test in cerebral palsy, Developmental Medical Child Neurology, 1966, 8, pp. 9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. AMES, L. B., The Gesell incomplete man test as a differential indicator of average and superior behaviour in preschool children, Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1943, 62, pp. 217–274Google Scholar
  3. AMES, L. B., Free drawing and completion drawing: a comparative study of preschool children, Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1945, 66, pp. 161–165Google Scholar
  4. AMES, L. B. & ILG, F. L., The Gesell incomplete man test as a measure of developmental status, Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1963, 68, pp. 247–307PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. ARNHEIM, R., Art and Visual Perception, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1954Google Scholar
  6. BALDWIN, J. M., Mental development in the child and the race (sic), New York, Macmillan, 1897Google Scholar
  7. BARNHART, E. N., Developmental stages in compositional construction in children’s drawings, Journal of Experimental Education, 1942, II, pp. 156–184Google Scholar
  8. BASSETT, E. M., The young child’s perception and representation of the human figure, Unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Lancaster, 1976. See also Chapter 3Google Scholar
  9. BERMAN, P. W., Young children’s use of the frame of reference in construction of the horizontal, vertical and the oblique, Child Development, 1976, (in press)Google Scholar
  10. BERMAN, P. W., CUNNINGHAM, J. G. & HASKULICH, J., Construction of the horizontal, vertical and oblique by young children: failure to find the “oblique effect”, Child Development, 1974, 45, pp. 474–478PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. BROWN, E. E., Notes on children’s drawings, University of California Publications in Education, 1897, 8, pp. 1–75Google Scholar
  12. BRYANT, P, E., Perception and understanding in young children, London, Methuen, 1974Google Scholar
  13. BURK, F., The genetic versus the logical order in drawing, Pedagogical Seminary, 1902, 9, pp. 296–323Google Scholar
  14. CONNOLLY, K. J. & ELLIOTT, J., The evolution and ontogeny of hand function, in Blurton-Jones, N. (ed.) Ethological Studies of Child Behaviour, Cambridge University Press, 1972Google Scholar
  15. DILEO, J H., Young children and their drawings, New York, Brunner, 1970Google Scholar
  16. ENG, H., The psychology of children’s drawings, London, Routledge, 1931Google Scholar
  17. FREEMAN, N. H., Process and product in children’s drawing, Perception, 1972, 1, pp. 123–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. FREEMAN, N. H., A systematic study of a common production error in children’s drawings, Paper presented to the Experimental Psychology Society, in Cambridge, 5–6 July, 1973Google Scholar
  19. FREEMAN, N. H., Do children draw men with arms coming out of the head? Nature, 1975a, 254, pp. 416–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. FREEMAN, N. H., Drawing conclusions, New Behaviour, 1975b, 3, pp. 17–19Google Scholar
  21. FREEMAN, N. H., Eiser, C. & Sayers, J., Children’s strategies in drawing 3-D relations on a 2-D surface, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 1976 (in press)Google Scholar
  22. FREEMAN, N. H., Children’s drawings: cognitive aspects, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1976 (in press)Google Scholar
  23. FREEMAN, N. H. & Hargreaves, S., Directed movements and the body-proportion effect in preschool children’s human figure drawing, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1977 (in press)Google Scholar
  24. GOLOMB, C., Children’s representation of the human figure: the effects of models, media and instructions, Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1973, 87, pp. 197–251Google Scholar
  25. GOLOMB, C., Young children’s sculpture and drawing, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1974Google Scholar
  26. GOODNOW, JO J. & FRIEDMAN, S., Orientation in children’s human figure drawings, Developmental Psychology, 1972, 7, pp. 10–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. GRIDLEY, P. F., Graphic representation of a man by four-year-old children in nine prescribed drawing situations, Genetic Psychology Monographs, 1938, 20, pp. 183–350Google Scholar
  28. HARRIS, D. B., Children’s drawings as measures of intellectual maturity, New York, Harcourt, Brace and World, 1963Google Scholar
  29. HURLOCK, E. B. & THOMSON, J. L., Children’s drawings: an experimental study of perception, Child Development, 1934, 5, pp. 127–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. IBBOTSON, A. & BRYANT, P. E., The perpendicular error and the vertical effect, Perception, 1976, 5, pp. 319–326PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. KELLOGG, R., Analysing children’s art, Palo Alto, National Press, 1970Google Scholar
  32. LAURENDEAU, M. & PINARD, A., The development of the concept of space in the child, New York, International Universities Press, 1970Google Scholar
  33. LIBEN, L., Evidence for developmental differences in spontaneous seriation and its implications for past research on long term memory improvement, Developmental Psychology, 1975, 11, pp. 121–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. LOWENFELD, V. & BRITTAIN, W. L., Creative and mental growth, New York, Macmillan, 1964Google Scholar
  35. LUKENS, H. T., A study of children’s drawings in the early years, Pedagogical Seminary, 1896, 4, pp. 79–110Google Scholar
  36. LUQUET, G. H., Les dessins d’un enfant, Paris, Alcan, 1913Google Scholar
  37. LUQUET, G. H., Les bonshommes tétards dans le dessin enfantin, Journal de Psychologie Normale, 1920, 17, pp. 684–710Google Scholar
  38. LUQUET, G. H., Le dessin enfantin, Paris, Alcan, 1927Google Scholar
  39. MACHOVER, K., Personality projection in the drawings of the human figure, Springfield, Thomas, 1949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. MILLAR, S., Visual experience or translation rules? Drawing the human figure by blind and sighted children, Perception, 1975, 4, pp. 363–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. MORRIS, D., The biology of art, London, Methuen, 1962Google Scholar
  42. NAELI, H. & HARRIS, P. L., Orientation of the diamond and the square, Perception, 1976, 5, pp. 73–78PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. OLSON, D. R., Cognitive development: the child’s acquisition of diagonality, New York, Academic Press, 1970Google Scholar
  44. PASSY, J., Note sur les dessins d’enfants, Revue Philosophique, 1891, 32, pp. 614–621Google Scholar
  45. PIAGET, J. & INHELDER, B., The child’s conception of space, London, Routledge, 1956Google Scholar
  46. ROUMA, G., Le langage graphique de l’enfant, Paris, Mischel et thron, 1913Google Scholar
  47. SCHUYTEN, M. C., De orrspronkelijke ‘ventjes’ der Antwerpsche schoolkindern, Paedologisch Jaarboek, 1904, 5, pp. 1–87Google Scholar
  48. SCHUBERT, A., Drawings of Orotchen children and young people, Pedagogical Seminary, 1930, 37, pp. 232–243Google Scholar
  49. SHAPIRO, T. & STINE, J., The figure drawings of three-year-old children, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1965, 20, pp. 298–309PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. SMITH, D., Systematic study of chimpanzee drawing, Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 1973, 82, pp. 406–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. SNYDER, R. T. & GASTON, D. S., Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1970 26, pp. 377–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. TRABASSO, T., RILEY, R. & WILSON, E., The representation of linear order and spatial strategies in reasoning: a developmental study, in Falmagne, R. (ed.) Reasoning; Representation and Process, New York, Wiley, 1975Google Scholar
  53. TULVING, E. & PEARLSTONE, Z., Availability versus accessibility of information in memory for words, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 1966, 5, pp. 381–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. VURPILLOT, E. & BERTHOUD, M., Evolution génétique de la localisation dans un cadre de référence rectangulaire, Année Psychologique, 1969, 69, pp. 393–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Freeman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations