Developmental Stages of Drawing a Person
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Developmental Stages of Drawing a Person

Drawing is one of the earliest forms of artistic expression used by a child to channel their inner thoughts and creativity as they explore the mysteries of this world.

Where drawing is a natural process and can’t be dictated by others, a general pattern is observed among children during their formative years. From as early as an infant who has just learned to hold a pencil to a preschooler making family portraits in their art class, children progress through a series of developmental stages while drawing a person.

Understanding the developmental stages of drawing a person allows us to analyze the cognitive and emotional growth of our children, along with how they express themselves. This article is here to help you achieve just that.

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Why Are the Developmental Stages of Drawing a Person Significant for a Child?

Let me start by telling you some reasons why the developmental stages of drawing a person can be helpful for your children. You can also learn more about the benefits of drawing for children here.

Develops Motor Skills

Children can develop fine motor skills by drawing people. The act of holding a pencil, applying pressure, and using controlled motions aids in strengthening a child’s hand muscles and improves hand-eye coordination for necessary tasks in the future, such as writing.

Ability to Analyze and Observe

Activities involving drawing people offer parents and teachers fascinating insights into a child’s observation and analysis skills. It allows children to pay attention to details, such as facial features, clothes, and body language, which helps foster their intellectual and visual growth.

Fuels a Child’s Emotional and Cognitive Thinking

Drawing allows children to externalize their emotions, giving them freedom and self-expression. The free will of drawing will help enhance their critical thinking and creativity, along with building their self-esteem and confidence by working independently.

The Developmental Stages of Drawing a Person

The developmental stages of drawing a person offer a basic overview of how kids usually advance in their artistic skills. However, it’s important to note that every kid progresses at their own pace. While some kids might pass through the stages quickly, others might need more time to excel in certain skills.

Developmental Stages of Drawing a Person

Scribbles (1 – 4yrs)

While playing with your baby, you might occasionally hand them a pencil or crayon and notice them draw lines carelessly all over the place. This stage, known as the scribbling stage, is when your child’s attention span is relatively short, and they aren’t overly concerned with the outcome.

Drawings in this stage are often chaotic and unrecognizable with the use of shapes and lines. Your child’s hand-eye coordination will improve throughout this time, and their imagination can expand unrestrictedly because they have no idea how anything appears in reality. 

The scribbles stage is for children between the ages of one and four who are developing an appropriate pencil grip while progressively deciding which hand they prefer to use.


Pre-Schematic Stage (3 – 7yrs)

Suitable for kids aged three to seven, this stage begins the journey of purposeful drawing and the development of a visual idea. The child starts recognizing their surroundings, and you can see patterns and the reason behind their art.

Children start drawing basic shapes to represent human-like characters on their pages, such as sticks for arms and legs and circles for heads. These figures initially resemble “head feet” or “tadpole” symbols and are unrealistic depictions of body parts, such as big heads and smaller bodies.

However, the drawings tend to tell stories and represent natural world objects through the lens of a child’s creativity and choice, irrespective of the worldly built notions.

pre schematic stage

Schematic Stage (5 – 9yrs)

With more intent behind the drawings, children start adding more details, such as facial features, clothing, and basic body proportions. Despite the simplicity of their art, an obvious structure and a grasp of their surroundings can be seen.

Children can identify between people by defining gender roles, as well as through colors by using blue for men and pink for women. 

And by drawing fruits and vegetables, they demonstrate their knowledge of basic necessities for daily living, and the drawings appear to adhere to a defined schema.

Children between the ages of five to nine start to establish their own styles, so it’s essential to encourage them to continue exploring and keeping an open mind.

schematic stage of drawing a person

Pre-Realistic Stage (8 – 12 yrs) 

Between the ages of 8 to 12, children start to be more critical of their own work. They can easily compare their work and recognize areas for growth as their awareness of the surroundings, art, and drawing tools increases rapidly.

At this age, kids are old enough to understand the limitations of their previous artwork, and the focus switches to learning new artistic methods. They’ll begin experimenting with colors, lighting, and shading.

Realistic Stage (11 – 14 yrs)

A more realistic depiction of the human form is painted with greater attention to detail. Children between 11 to 14 years might begin to sketch figures in more intricate positions and with more proportionate details.

As a result, they use a variety of tools, including charcoal, pastels, and shadowing, to demonstrate greater depth. For instance, watercolors can be used to create washes and blending effects, while pencils can be used to create a variety of values and textures, such as highlights and shadows.

An advanced understanding of color theory and color composition also encourages them to concentrate on adding more volume and meaning to their masterpieces.

Decision Making (14 – 17 yrs)

With their entrance into the teenage phase, children, especially those between 14 to 17 years, decide the importance of art amidst the plethora of activities. It’s a time of complete self-awareness where teenagers are highly critical of their abilities and form their decision accordingly.

While some choose to drop the activity for good, others move toward refining their skills and finding their unique path. Those who choose to move forward with the skill tend to experiment with different techniques, mastering certain areas and becoming skilled in multiple aspects.


Parents and educators should encourage children to express their creativity without placing excessive pressure on meeting certain milestones at a certain age.

So offer your kids the freedom to pick what they want to do and let the wonderful artistic development process shape their individuality.

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