Simple CoDrawing Exercise

I use this improvisational co-drawing exercise a LOT and get asked about how to do it. I learned it from Johnnie Moore who learned it from  Alain Rostain. It is very simple. So as a quick refresher…here is a quote from Johnnie’s blog… again!

The exercise is simple: you’re going to draw a face, together. It won’t be a familiar face (probably) but one you’re making up between you.

You need a pen and paper (we made do with a paper napkin from the cafe we were in).

Once you’re ready, you work silently. Resist the urge to discuss the picture as it develops and don’t comment on each other’s ideas. You probably won’t be able to suppress laughter though.

The first person draws just one feature of a face. It’s up to you what it is: it could be an ear, an eye, a nose, a tattoo, an eyebrow… whatver. Rule of thumb: when you lift the pen off the paper, you’ve finished your turn. And remember, as you’re working silently, don’t explain what you’ve drawn.

Then your partner takes the pen and they draw a feature. It may be another ear/eye whatever, or it could be something else. Whatever it is, you then get the pen and carry on. Even if you’re not sure what it is they’ve drawn.

If you don’t know what on earth your partner has drawn, don’t ask! Just carry on adding features as best you can.

Keep going like this for a few turns, each adding a single feature with each turn.

When someone gets the pen and hesitates about what to do, this means the face is finished. So that person now puts down the first letter of the name of this character. Keep adding letters until someone hesitates – when that happens, you’ve finished. And again, don’t comment on what your partner writes, whatever you may think!

Here are some sample pictures

And a quick video-in-action…

4 thoughts on “Simple CoDrawing Exercise”

  1. A bit off topic, but this reminds me of how my sister and I would communicate when we were young. I’m almost exactly a year older than her, so we grew up almost too close together. We took to communicating by drawing together – she might start something, pass it to me for a bit more and then back to her. Decades later we still do this via the Internet and usually with photoshop. I have very little talent, but she does (she has an MFA in art and is a professional artist) … some strange ideas went back and forth and it turned into inspiration for her current body of work

  2. I do something similar with children. It is a little more random. A subject is agreed upon by both participants. One person starts by drawing a line, squiggle or circle. The other person then adds a line, squiggle, circle or something. This continues until they determine that it is “finished”.

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