The Ingenious Technique Of Kinetic Drawings And Paintings

Chapter 10

A Free Course About Interpretation

Institute of Projective Drawings

The order of family drawings

Kinetic school drawing of 12-year-old child with behavioral problems

Note that the child is not the large figure (called Pali), but the carelessly drawn stick figure (Gábor). His classmates taunt him a lot and he responds with severe bouts of acting out and fits of rage; he has to take medicine to control them. 

"At all too rare an interval a very bright star appears in the projective technique sky... Burns and Kaufman's Kinetic Family Drawing Technique appear to be another."

This was written by L. B. Ames, Ph.D. Chief Psychologist, President of the Society for Projective Techniques (see Burns & Kaufman, 1972, pp. v-vii).

He continues: "Anyone using the K-F-D technique can enjoy the excitement of being the beginning of a marvellously effective new way of measuring human behavior".

We absolutely agree that this technique is one of the most important and useful drawing method ever published.

Why this technique is particularly interesting?

Kinetic drawings reveal hidden aspects of interaction dynamics between client and family, kindergarten, school, or even in the workplace.

Click to Tweet

The Kinetic Technique: Tools And Instructions

You will need the following tools:

  1. B or 2B pencil (tip: try also with paints on a big sheet)
  2. A sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper (in Europe: A4 size)
  3. Eraser

In kinetic drawings the client is requested to depict movement or action.

(1) Kinetic Family Drawing

Ask the client to draw their family so that everyone is doing something!

Kinetic Family Drawing: “Draw a picture of everyone in your family, including you, doing something, some kind of action."

Click to Tweet

The drawing will reveal the family relations and who is connected to whom, who distances themselves from whom.

The order of family drawings

Remote and overlapping figures in a kinetic family drawing by 7-year-old children

On the left, the individual figures are far from each other, while in the drawing on the right, they are so close that they overlap. The drawings reveal how the child experiences the family: emotionally remote and cold OR close, warm and trustful.

(2) Kinetic Animal Family Drawing

Use this with children:

Kinetic Animal Family Drawing: “Draw a picture of a family of animals doing something."

Click to Tweet

After the drawing is completed the subject is asked to identify the family members and their ages as well as the following: “If you were an animal (child) in this drawing, which one would you be?”

This is less disturbing for the sensitive child, but at the same time reflects the real, unconscious feelings (Jones, 1985).

The order of family drawings

Kinetic Animal Family Drawing by a 13-years-old boy

Note the isolated groups. The animals were associated with anxiety, aggression and sibling rivalry

(3) Kinetic School (Kindergarten) Drawing

This is one of the most exciting and useful techniques.

Kinetic School Drawing: “Draw yourself, your (kindergarten) teacher, and a friend or two in the picture. Have everyone doing something."

Click to Tweet

From this you can know how the child perceives themself, their social environment, the school expectations and their attitude towards learning.

(4) Kinetic Business Drawing (For Adults)

Kinetic Business Drawing: “Draw your boss, two or more employees and yourself doing something.”

Click to Tweet

Kinetic Business Drawings show how the client see their adult self,  social environment, work expectations and attitudes towards work.

Always pay attention to:

  • the drawing order (sequence),
  • which figure is erased and corrected,
  • or made worse by comparison with the first attempt,
  • or even not redrawn at all,
  • the spontaneous focus of attention.

Once the drawing is finished, ask the client to:

  • number the human figures in the order they were drawn,
  • label themself with a star,
  • label the people on the drawing with their names and ages,
  • label who is doing what,
  • write their own name and age on the back of the paper.

After the kinetic animal family drawing ask:

  • who are the members of the animal family,
  • how old they are, what they are doing,
  • which one would they most like to be?

Now It's Your Turn

  • Draw your own kinetic drawings!
  • Try all the methods with your clients (if applicable).
  • Search for psychological meanings in the ARTIES online scientific interpretation software.
  • Did you find the kinetic technique useful? Let me know in the comments below!


Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

Vass, Z. (2012). A psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings. The SSCA Method: A Systems Analysis Approach. Budapest: Alexandra.

In the next chapter we go on with the psychological interpretation of drawings and paintings.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below


Thanks for this free lesson, in particular, the “instruction” is the element that creates all the magic and also the key point of what is being evaluated in the drawing. It is important as they explained in a previous lesson that “a drawing is none”, for the psychologist it is important to know what drawing instruction was most difficult to execute. The drawings allow us to explore and understand the “why”, so we go beyond the symptom, but never in a single drawing we will understand it.

Excuse my English.

    Katalin Gyermán

    Thank you for your comment. We are very happy that you find the course about the interpretation of pictures useful.

Leave a Reply: