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The drawing of the figure by piagetian perspective

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ABREU, Liliane Alcântara de [1], NUNES, Letícia Monteiro [2], SOARES, Pamela Cristina [3], REHDER, Giovanna de Souza [4], MELO, Natalia Sayuri [5], SILVA, Gabriella Braga Dias da [6], MENDES, Matheus Passos [7]

ABREU, Liliane Alcântara de. Et al. The drawing of the figure by piagetian perspective. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year. 07, Ed. 01, Vol. 05, pp. 60-93. January 2022. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


This article is the result of an analysis of free drawings of individuals within the stages of development narrated by Piaget (1994; 1999), considering not only his studies from the perspective of the child’s stages, but also how the evolution of a subject would work through drawings and analyzed through psychological perspective, based principally on Georges-Henri Luquet (1969). The research-guide problem: is it possible to detect differences in the psychic development of children and point out behavioral and emotional factors through drawings? Thus, the general objective focuses on identifying and evaluating the stages of the child’s development through drawings. The research methodology included the literature review, with an approach in four children aged 2 to 15 years, of both genders, and without determining social class in the city of São Paulo. Moreover, the premise of the hypothesis was that the differences in development phases could be easily identified from the knowledge of the theorizations of Piaget, Luquet, Lowenfeld, Brittain, and Florence de Mèredieu. Moreover, it would be possible that graphic materials could influence the emotional transference to the drawings, and collaborate in the evaluative reading. As results and conclusions, it was perceived that it is appropriate to identify the different stages of child development through drawings, and that even the materials used collaborate in the recognition of the psychological structures of individuals. In addition, the importance of this playful activity was reinforced as one of the methods used by Psychology to better understand a person’s personality and possible anxieties by graphing, regardless of their age.

Keywords: Cognition; Constructivism; Drawing; Development; Psychology.


This article aimed to analyze free drawings of individuals within the development phases described by Piaget (1994; 1999). For this, it was taken into consideration not only his studies from the perspective of the first stage of the child, but how the evolution of a subject would work through drawings and analyzed through a psychological prism based principally on Georges-Henri Luquet (1969).

Seeking the real intersections between these factors, the doubt that gave rise to the guide problem arose: is it possible to detect differences in the psychic development of children and point out behavioral and emotional factors through drawings? Thus, the general objective focused on identifying and evaluating the child’s development phases through drawings. As a consequence, the specific objectives were expanded in detecting whether the ancient Piagetian theorizations can still be validated in contemporary individuals; understand whether materials used in the elaboration of the drawings can corroborate the psychological reading, and understand how to make the proper readings of age phases and the contents of drawings comparing with piaget’s theory.

On the other hand, the research methodology was composed of a bibliographic review and with the approach in a group of four volunteer children aged 2 to 15 years, of both genders, and without a determining social class in the city of São Paulo, in the first semester (February to May) of 2019. Thus, it was necessary to briefly understand each of these points as a tool for understanding the processes that make up the cognitive and evolutionary process of the human being.

In section 2, Piaget’s propositions (1994; 1999) were used to discuss the development phases of children and adolescents. Section 3 is subdivided into three parts, the first of which addresses psychic development through drawing, and having as theoretical foundation Florence de Mèredieu (2000), and Stephen Farting (2011). The second part discusses how the drawings work in the process of maturity of the individual, and brings the theorization of Georges-Henri Luquet (1969), with the support of Viktor Lowenfeld and W. Lambert Brittain (1977), and again Mèredieu. Other authors such as Sigmund Freud (1972), Melanie Klein (1991-1997, John Buck (2003), Maria Ocampo, et al. (2005) and Maria Retondo (2000), are briefly cited. In the third subdivision, Eveline Carrano and Maria Requião (2013) support the influence of graphic and artistic materials on the individual’s psyche, and thus can relate to all previous information and research done with volunteers. Section 4 presents the collected data and its results, through the approach with the four children surveyed. Finally, the final considerations close this article.


According to Piaget (1994; 1999), psychic development occurs throughout life, beginning in childhood and ending in adulthood. Some individuals present a failure in this process, especially in childhood, which explains the common occurrences as childhood behaviors in adults.

If on the one hand there are immutable and common functions, on the other there are variable structures. These are the forms of organization of mental activity, both of the motor or intellectual aspect, as affective (individual and social). This is where the six original and successive structures recognized by Piaget (1994; 1999) arise, each of which configures a different construction from the previous one: newborn and infant (which already encompasses three structures), early childhood, childhood and adolescence.

The needs are basically characterized by demarcation certain aspects of the world to the structures that the individual decoded, as well as, readjusting the understanding of what was transformed in this process. In other words, it is a process of progressive assimilation of new information generated by the environment, and accommodation of these references to configure real understanding and learning. It is all part of the adaptation process that configures psychic balance.

The first three stage structures (or stages) refer to the newborn and infant, and that goes from birth to two years. The stage of hereditary reflexes or mechanisms is part of the first phase of adaptation, and is found in the newborn or infant, that is, from birth to about eighteen months or two years. During this period, the subject, as soon as he is born, goes through the reflex phase (corresponding to the initial tendencies), in which his functions are focused only on nutrition. These suction-facing reflexes evolve over the days. Egocentric aspects can also be observed at this stage, because the subject does not have the ability to differentiate the self from the outside reality.

The stage of the first motor habits, organized perceptions and differentiated feelings is integrated in the second stage (more or less in the second month of life) in which the baby starts to identify facial expressions and sucks the thumb. Between three and six months, he begins to pick up objects and this triggers the sensory-motor schemes, which are the sets of new motor and perceptual habits. This second stage, identified as perceptions and habits corresponds to elementary feelings, such as pleasant and unpleasant, pleasure and pain, according to Piaget (1999). It is at this stage that the first signs of interest occur in your own body, such as hands and feet, but without personal awareness or what those things really are.

The third stage is that of sentic-motor or practical intelligence (pre-language), affective regulations and external fixations of affectivity. This phase occurs around eighteen months, and is still before the development of language and thought. It refers to the handling of objects and how to use a rod to reach a toy.

At this stage, the baby associates objects with the schemes of action, shaking or rubbing them to understand them through use, thus transforming the representation of things. Primitive egocentrism is projected, because the child thinks that everything happens because of it and for it. At the end of the second year, the author explains that this view modifies, and thus the individual begins to better understand the relationships of causes over objects and fields. Moreover, the individual in this initial period of two years presents four fundamental processes in this intellectual evolution. Piaget (1999, p. 21) says that they are the constructions of object category and space, causality and time. This triggers the perceptual question (at the end of the second year), and precisely because the child manages to have a totality of space, including the body itself, due to the coordination of movements that expand the development of sense-motor intelligence. Therefore, its motor and cognitive functions evolve appreciably as stimulated in the affective and intellectual sector, aspects that cannot be dissociated in human development.

The fourth stage is intuitive intelligence, spontaneous interindividual feelings and social relationships of submission to adults, which occurs from two to seven years. This fourth structure identified by the author is the stage of early childhood, which happens from two to seven years. It is the period of the appearance of language and that the individual can not only talk about himself, but report small past events, build narratives, anticipate future actions and ask… ask a lot about everything. Thus, the author discusses that the subject develops and modifies at this stage, conducts related to socialization, thought and intuition. To this do so, he divides into four these main pillars (socialization, thought, intuition and affection):

a) Socialization of action: demarcated essentially by the development of language, has its initiation from the first stage (at birth) with the learning of the infant under the aspect of imitation.

b) Genesis of thought: it is effectively the change and transformation of sense-motor intelligence to the language of socialization. There is that the subject will tell his actions, reconstitute the past and formulate the future. The word can be formulated without the presence of the object. Thought can be presented in a concrete way.

The games are symbolic (imagination and imitation), such as playing with dolls or cooking. According to Piaget (1999), this type of game configures real thinking, but doubly egocentric. That’s because it consists of satisfying the i through a transformation. The author explains that when playing with a doll, the child revives, remakes and corrects his own life, completing with fiction his reality. Therefore, a deformed assimilation of the real i. Other than, is that by using symbolisms (signs), and therefore images, again intimate states come to the fore, and thus thought resumes the structure of double meaning.

Another extreme is verbal thinking, farther from the real than from intuition. At this stage, especially after the three years, the theoretician brings the reference on the stage of whys. The child will ask dozens of times an aspect until the doubts are extinguished. The subjects seek causation and finalistic reasons about general phenomena. For the author, this specific moment configures the continuity of the child’s egocentric thinking, because there would be an extension of the practical schemes.

Another striking feature is the animism of objects. The author explains that first this occurs in objects that speak for themselves (the lamp that lights). Then agents and bodies (such as clouds and stars). He quotes: “Later, only spontaneous movement will be endowed with consciousness. For example, clouds no longer know ‘because the wind pushes them’; but the wind doesn’t know things ‘because he’s a person’ like us, but ‘he knows it blows, because he’s the one who blows’.” (PIAGET, 1999, p. 31)

Piaget (1999, p. 32) is categorical that all casualty in early childhood is the result of “indifferentiation between the psychic and the physical and the intellectual egocentrism”.

c) Intuition: although influenced by finalism and with difficulty in justification when interviewed, children in early childhood distrust people who never present evidence about what they talk about. According to the author, primary intuition is characterized by a global action, while articulated intuition overcomes the consequences of this action and a reconstitution.

d) Affective life: socialization is intrinsically linked to the process of affective development and intellectual functions, also remembering that both are not dissociated. Moral values as normative factors are also constructed at this stage, such as the value of lies and truth.

Then, one arrives at the fifth structure identified by Piaget (1999), which is childhood, and comes from seven to eleven years. The fifth stage refers to concrete intellectual operations (logic) and moral and social feelings of cooperation, going from seven to eleven years. This phase coincides with the moment when the child enters the universe of schooling and there is a change in mental development. The scholar describes that new social relationships are essential for the formatting and uninterrupted construction of cognitive and socialization interactions. Thus, again the author divides this phase into four main pillars for better detailing (socialization, thinking, rationalization and affection). Note that now there is rationalization, in the previous phase it was governed by intuition.

a) Progress in conduct and socialization: Because they are in a large group exhibition, children become more supportive, reinforcing or developing the capacity for cooperation. According to the theoretician, they different their views from the other, and develop argumentation and defense. This new perception of the world precipitates the total end of egocentrism that produced impulsive attitudes and that has accompanied the individual since his birth. Without self-centrism, the subject begins to think before acting, initiating the process of reflection and accelerating socialization. The collectivity reinforces the follow-up of social rules through games and group games, and even by conducting acceptance in the school space for acceptance and coexistence in that group different from the usual group of the house.

In the case of games, the author explains that if the tendency of children between four and six years is to imitate the older ones to create or participate in games, and in a conduct that does not know all the rules and without coordination. From the moment this individual arrives in childhood (seven years), he understands the rules and follows them, also creating the understanding of equality before laws. Similarly, compatibility is established. Therefore, the logical construction on social relations and differences intensifies resignifying a new system of values and strengthening the affective field. Cognition and emotion expand under the determinants of logic and morals.

b) Progress of thought: According to the theoretician, in the change of stage from early childhood to childhood, and with the extinction of egocentrism, the subject transmutes this perception of the world by me to me and the world. He starts to identify himself as part of something. The animism, finalism and artificialism existing before, come to make room for chance. This is because it is the moment that the child learns to count, thus opening space for atomicity explanations of tangible facts.

The reason under the aspect of experiments and logical reasoning make questions palpable and instigate the more latent look of proof and curiosity. The notion of time, speed and space is also established in this phase, even helping in discourses about the past, present and future.

c) Rational operations: These rationalizations and thought operations, after seven years, are part of a higher level reached after early childhood. Piaget (1999) says that this operative level of intelligence is the essence of mental development.

An operation – be it logic, aritmetic, geometric, mechanical, physical or other – is psychologically, according to Piaget (1999, p. 48), “an action (of bringing together individuals or numerical units, displacing, etc.) whose origin is always motor, perceptive or instinctive”. Therefore, around the age of nine, children broaden their understanding of length, volumes and weight, and therefore their spatial and world understanding. It is interesting to note that the author reinforces that individuals do not reach these relationships before this age, so it is important to wait for the time of cognitive maturation to present these symmetrical relationships with more emphasis. The same is the case with other knowledge, and that is what the scholar stresses all the time: there is a time for everything.

Piaget (1999, p. 52) mentions that “children’s thinking only becomes logical through the organization of operating systems that obey the laws of common sets”. Thus, the subject begins to understand the world from the perspective of the following conjunction:

  • Composition: things (operations) can be compared to each other and result in another; is the sum.
  • Reversibility: things can be reversed. You have the subtraction of positive and negative numbers.
  • Abort or pairing: A direct and reverse operation may result in something null or identical. Piaget (1999, p. 52) gives the example of +1-1=0.
  • Association: everything can be associated with each other and in many ways through groupings.

The author quotes:

Em outras palavras, as noções e relações não se podem construir isoladamente, mas constituem organizações de conjuntos, nas quais todos os elementos são solidários e se equilibram entre si. Assim, esta estrutura própria à assimilação mental de ordem operatória assegura ao espírito um equilíbrio bem superior ou da assimilação intuitiva ou egocêntrica, já que a reversibilidade, anteriormente adquirida, traduz um equilíbrio permanente entre a assimilação das coisas pelo espírito e a acomodação do espírito às coisas. (PIAGET, 1999, p. 52)

In short, the individual gradually understands the importance of individuality and group, as well as the laws of reciprocity.

d) Affection, will and moral feelings: Aspects are of immense importance, because cooperation and reciprocity ensure the evolution of autonomy and cohesion. And if the first moral feelings of the individual originate in the relationship with his parents, the scholar elucidates that they can be strengthened in the form of obedience and submission (heteronomy), and precisely by all this context of cooperation and mutual respect (and group) be fortified in the school environment. Moreover, respect for authority, rules and the foundation of the feeling of friendship expands unilateral respect for older people, different and different differences, conducts and moral, social and justice senses.

On the latter, children develop a great feeling and understanding of equality. However, Piaget (1999) warns that if a subject perceives that he/she has been wronged by an adult, either involuntarily or imaginarily, that the victimized child begins to dissociate justice from submission. This moral feeling will accompany this individual throughout his life.

The author is categorical in stating that morality, as coordination of values, is compared to another logical equation (or logical grouping). A series of values grouped together when leveraged are organized, and regulated, according to the constitution of the individual (but which can be changeable), produces a continuous regulation in the form of autonomous systems that is what logical groupings are effectively. All these factors are what strengthen the uniqueness of cognition and emotion in the building of psychic development.

Finally, the sixth stage is that of abstract intellectual operations of personality formation, and affective and intellectual insertion in adult society: adolescence. The researcher says that previous reflections lead us to believe that mental development ends between eleven and twelve years, and that adolescence is only a passing crisis because of puberty that parties childhood from adulthood. But for the author, it is clear that the known facts do not exhaust the analysis of what adolescence is. Thus, unlike a child, adolescents build systems and theories. Children do not build systems, because they have them in the unconscious, in the sense that only those outside can perceive them. Adolescents, on the other hand, are interested in unnatural problems, unrelated to the reality experienced. On this capacity of the adolescent, Piaget (1999, p. 58) comments: “What amazes most, above all, is its ease of elaborating abstract theories. There are some who write, who create a philosophy, a policy, an aesthetic or something else. Others don’t write, but they talk.” Therefore, this new way of thinking, with general and abstract ideas, happens continuously, from the concrete thinking of the second childhood.

Por volta de onze a doze anos efetua-se uma transformação fundamental no pensamento da criança, que marca o término das operações construídas durante a segunda infância; é a passagem do pensamento concreto para o ‘formal’, ou, como se diz em termo bárbaro, mas claro, ‘hipotético-dedutivo’. (PIAGET, 1999, p. 58)

Until the age of eleven or twelve years, the operations of child intelligence are concrete, which refer to reality and objects that can be manipulated. About this, Piaget (1999, p. 59) says: “When the child’s thought moves away from the real, it is simply because it has replaced the missing objects with more or less vivid representation, it is accompanied by belief and equivalent to the real”. Therefore, according to the author, children have difficulty solving mathematical problems at school. If children could manipulate the objects, they would rationalize without problems. But mathematical utterances are, for example, in the language plane, so it is more difficult.

After eleven or twelve years, formal thinking becomes possible, even without the support of perception, experience or belief. The theoretician defines concrete thinking as the representation of a possible action and the formal one is defined as a representation of possible actions. According to the author, only after formal thinking begins, around eleven or twelve years, does it become possible to build the systems that mark adolescence. These formal operations allow thought to stand out and free itself from what is real, allowing reflections and theories to be built in their own way.

There is an intellectual egocentrism of the adolescent, which the author likes both the infant who understands the universe with his body activity, and to early childhood, who understands things to think in formation. Metaphysical egocentrism, over time, finds a balance between formal thought and reality. The author explains that balance happens when reflection understands that its function is not to contradict, but to advance and interpret the experience, surpassing concrete thinking and encompassing the indefinite constructions of rational deduction and inner life.

The construction of personality implies the decentralization of the i that integrates into a type of cooperation program. Any imbalance will center on itself. Therefore, the life plans of adolescents are full of generous feelings, selfless projects, and at the same time of unsettling megalomania and conscious self-devotee. The adolescent puts for himself the essential role in the salvation of humanity and organizes his life plan for it.

Finally, on the child’s thinking, Piaget (1999) maintains that it begins by being “pre-logical” in the need for continuous constitution of logical structures, and can enter the adult world at the end of this cycle.


During the course of human history, the human being went through an evolutionary process that was recorded in Art. From the beginning in the caves to the cave paintings, the expressions of communication later developed in many ways, including the graphics of the Phoenicians and the Law of Frontality of the Egyptians. Later, the period of the most full-bodied drawings filled with elements of the Middle Ages was added, but they had no perspective, depth and correct proportions. In the Renaissance, after the studies of Filippo Brunelleschi (FARTHING, 2011) that provided the emergence of perspective, everything changed, and this unique and important advent brought such perceptive maturity (even in other areas of knowledge), that accelerated the modifications of lines of designs and use of colors in the following centuries.

The use of psychoanalytic treatment in children was of great resistance to Sigmund Freud (1972; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000), even because of his understanding that children would have a lot of communication difficulties. Only with the works of Melanie Klein (1991-1997; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000) could the little ones be assisted by psychoanalysis. And it was not an easy thing, because it required the creation of specific statutes and methods for psychological foundation. Klein (1991-1997; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000) created the technique of the game, which allowed evaluating the place of drawing in a treatment, and possessing the same mechanisms of association of discourses of an adult. The drawings began to be presented as a playful activity and inserted in the games, and it was from there that the psychoanalyst developed the figurative expression.

After opening possibilities to work with the infants, several analysts began to treat children with playful materials and representations through drawings. They believed that the drawings could be worked together with dreams, participating in two levels of expression: “one conscious and more or less intentional, and the other unconscious and resorting to a complex symbology” (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 78). Later and at other levels of research, Piaget (1999) concluded through comparative studies with children of different nationalities that there are no fundamental differences in graphism from one place to another. However, for some scholars this may vary according to the civilization that the subject is inserted in.

Children are mirrors of that environment in which they are inserted, and, therefore, their drawings are reflections of everything they live and experience through various information of the family, school and society in which they are established. Mèredieu (2000) adds that in order to identify a drawing, it is necessary to stand before the individual’s culture, exempting himself from his own and together with his concepts (and pre-concepts). What comes into play are the experiences, experiences and culture of the other, also taking into account the biosocial order. Moreover, according to the author, what is rare to appear in children’s drawings is the issue of sexuality. An area that is more repressed in its artistic expressions, after all, we are in a more repressed society. However, this emerges forcefully when the little ones suffer some kind of sexual abuse.

According to the author, children’s design in recent years is returning to industry and advertising: whether in exhibitions, films, articles, books and others. This sudden importance has generated numerous myths, such as child spontaneity – implying that the influence of the environment on the conditioning of the infant, the myth of art for this age group – is not known, when it is evident that children fall short of any estifying research. From these myths, a huge amount of literary works concerned with interpreting, and thus forming a psychological and psychoanalytic vision, or establishing a pedagogical formation, was generated.

The author comments that the vast literary production on the subject, for the most part, only arrived in fragmented results and that there is still a synthesis, but that it is difficult to elaborate because of the heterogeneity of the instruments of analysis. Currently, studies on children’s design have used the contribution of the work of psychologist Jean Piaget (1994; 1999) and continue towards an expansion of the mechanisms of child expression. Thus, the contribution of psychologists, according to the author, is undeniable and helped in the placement of basic concepts that allowed the approach of the child mentality. Previously, only the particularities of children’s graphics were observed that related to motor mobility. On this interpretation, Mèredieu (2006, p. 3) comments that “There is no true vision, and adult vision cannot in any way represent the standard measure.”

Today, in place of drawings being defined as errors, there is an appreciation for children’s productions. The author also comments that the originality of the child is difficult to show since adult imitation plays an important role, and the reading of drawings uses instruments created by adults themselves. Mèredieu (2006, p. 3) states “It will never be too much to repeat: the environment in which the child develops is the adult universe, and this universe acts on it in the same way as every social context, conditioning or alienating it.” That is, studying children’s productions without considering adult influence and pressure will lead to a misreading.

Conceived by the development of the symbolic function in the child, the evolution of the drawing, for the author, depends on the evolution of language and writing. This writing exerts a fascination about the child, even before she can trace her own traits: Very early on, she imitates the writing of adults, as Mèredieu observes (2006, p. 10-11), “It is usually between the three and four years that the child produces this fictitious writing, drawn in the form of saw teeth, and carried for her of a fabulous polysemy […]”. The author also comments that when the child reaches school age there is a decrease in the production of drawings, since writing occupies more attention. With writing the child discovers new possibilities of spelling and drawing and writing can be confused or mixed, since what between the drawing from the writing is a floating limit.


Children’s drawing can be considered a form of language, even though it is hypothetical and even metaphorical. This type of language must have a system to follow, so that it can be deciphered correctly.

The way of drawing and the way the design evolves is entirely linked to psychomotor evolution, and it is indeed very important to always keep in mind that the child is in perpetual mutation. Luquet (1969) explains that everything that concerns the child, such as his experiences, form of growth, feelings, habits and other factors, directly interfere in the evolution of language signs. When the infant is angry, he scribbles energetically. When the drawing is of a character, such as the brother or sister, whose existence is unwanted, the trait ends up being more rudimentary.

It happens with the drawing, the same as in the movies. It is a succession of facts, which depend entirely on each other to make sense, functioning as if there were a continuation of circumstances. In children’s design, a house is not necessarily a house, it can also be a body, a face, a chimney, a nose, among thousands of other things. Thus, Luquet (1969) divides the evolution of graphics into four stages. The first stage is called Fortuitous Realism, which begins around the age of two and ends the child’s scribble period. Finally, the child begins to make a connection between his traits and the figures, thus managing to start naming the figures. The second stage takes place between three and four years, and is called Failed Realism, in which the child begins to want to copy the figures, going through a series of failures and successes in the realization of the drawing.

The third stage is called Intellectual Realism, having as the main age of this stage the four years of age, but being able to extend to ten or twelve years of age of the child. The main feature of this phase is the fact that the child does not draw what she sees but rather what she knows how to draw. Usually the drawings are in a plane lying down, that is, they are made on a lying sheet and based on a central axis. In addition, transparency occurs, such as when a baby is drawn in the mother’s womb. Finally, in the fourth phase, there is Visual Realism, which is usually around twelve years, but can occur from the age of eight, which basically begins the drawings of more adult scope, and with a more realistic perspective.

Luquet (1969) and supported by Mèredieu (2000) mention that graphics begin through scribbles, basically motor gestures. Often, the scribble is considered futile, and is usually ignored. Transparency in the child phase represents a type of experience that was not so special or affective. One can see the evolution of the child when it begins in the so-called informal drawing, through the blurs, cluster, scribble being it in rotating or oscillating movements.

Primeiramente, a criança projeta no desenho seu próprio esquema corporal; ela traduz assim a maneira como vive seu corpo e se sente apreendido pelo outro, como aquela menina cujo desenho, boneco invertido, correspondia à sua posição favorita, deitada no chão, de pernas para o ar. Ou aquela outra menina sentindo uma dor física que não consegue localizar conscientemente, mas que exprime de imediato deformando o lado de uma casa. (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 32)

Usually children tend to draw the Sun, dolls, houses, ships, for example. The theme of drawing is not the most important. Children’s drawings start simply with circles, squares, triangles, images such as “V” and others. When these shapes are combined, they turn into drawings, and consequently into vocabulary of children’s drawing. Mèredieu (2000, p. 16) still adds: “It will never be too much to emphasize: every attempt to include the study of children’s graphics in the framework of a semiology faces almost insuperable difficulty, and in this field, color, come to show even excessive prudence.”

The spatial construction of representation of the drawings, regardless of whether it is looked at by the global context of humanity or for the child who will one day become an adult, presents an entire evolution through stages. At the turn of the 21st century, the author considers pedagogy and teaching backwards in relation to Art and advertising, since the latter are used with the property of exploration and discovery of differentiated spaces in the perceptual field. Thus, the understanding of spatial occupation varies according to the socio-historical conditions of a given moment.

According to the author, the spatial and sensory field undergoes constant structuring and produces different perceptual processes in adults and children. Exactly why, in the beginning, an individual has no notion of space, but gradually he elaborates the spatial conception. She is supported by Luquet (1969; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000) to report that initially there are representative spaces, which are vital and effective. First, there is an embryonic and vegetative stage linked to the sensations of pleasure and displeasure. In the second moment, the motor sensory stage appears that is connected to the initial corporeal movements that incite even walking.

From the representative spaces, the child evolves to the figurative space, then the perceptual space, and at the end, the graphic space. The graphic space corresponds to the space of the gesture and of all who participate in the subject’s life so that it can represent those first shapeless traits, whether in spots or scribbles. Even in these scribbles there is already an attempt at spatial modulation through the voids themselves and fills, and even by positioning on the sheet (central, crossing the limits of the paper or at the ends). (LUQUET, 1969; MÈREDIEU, 2000)

In the graphic plane, spatial organization is oriented by a relationship of continuity-discontinuity, according to Mèredieu (2000). When the small one effectively begins to draw, its first structures are not connected to metric systems, but to qualitative and affective ideas. It is also at this stage that children draw figures within other figures. The greatness represented in the drawings is affective, and enlarged proportions of objects and people gain strong emotional value. Therefore, gradually the subject elaborates coherent spaces, and they try to represent their experiences. The sheet of paper is the space to dominate. With the evolution of garatujas to figures with shape, later there is also the addition of scenarios and even fillings of other structures with trees, animals and even landscapes with rain and sky, for example. The author also explains that to represent spaces, children use rudimentary traits and are accompanied by two processes: the lying plane and transparency.

The little ones ignore the projective space because they do not understand the unfolding of the plan. In this way, they represent their images as if it were a large slap sparse on the floor. It’s like everything’s lying down. The writer cites the plane lying radiant to name this type of representation, as well as the axial when the drawings are more complex and are entertained. However, other individuals are able to represent duplicate drawings of a lying plane that the author calls a reflection. The child tries to represent both sides and the same object, but does it as if it were something reflected in a water mirror. Mèredieu (2000, p. 48) says that “depth of field is replaced by the overlap and escalation of plans”. Objects such as houses, trees, and roads can be depicted on paper as if snaking spaces above the lower base drawing.

At 8 or 9 years of age, the subject acquires the Euclidean mechanisms and projective relationships with greatness and form. Thus, he succeeds from that moment on, to create topological spaces that are somewhat deformed, like a football field seen from above. In this period of topological relationship, the house has great importance in representations in childhood. It is an extension of the child’s body and personality, and all this dynamics is supported by other authors such as John Buck (2003), Maria Ocampo, et al. (2005) and Maria Retondo (2000). According to Luquet (1969) and Mèredieu (2000), the house functions as a mythical space for the projection of anxieties and fantasies. Thus, houses can be represented in two ways:

  • The traditional house, with straight and geometric lines, featuring a weathered roof and most often with chimney, estradinha and even elements of personal taste.
  • Dream houses, which are part of the child’s imagination and present themselves in the façade and interior structure completely different from the traditional one. The shapes are totally unusual, even with spherical spaces.

Mèredieu (2000) says that spherical forms calm and reassure individuals, as they bring the unconscious memory of the initial matrix: the uterus. Similarly, children would bring this memory, even though the house is in traditional lines, because they usually represent water or a lake near the building. Other symbolisms can be identified as mountains or walls that show the sense of protection, and linked to the feminine symbology of the mother; the safety of the first home of the human being. As for Piaget (1994; 1999; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000), it distinguishes three phases of evolution from space:

Synthetic disability: space has no projective and Euclidean relationships, besides the absence of depth or grandeur. The topologies are still being organized. Characters have two arms, but are on the same side of the body, just as the head is glued to the body (without neck). Eyes and mouth may find themselves out of place.

Intellectual realism (from 4 to 10 years): the projective and Euclidean relations begin to develop, but are contradictory. Moreover, topographic reactions have a more respected disposition, but clashing with the perspective space. Faces are represented in profile, with both eyes on the same side (as the cartoon character Peppa Pig). Distances, coordinates and perspectives are not present. Roads are presented on parallel lines; Human figures are always the same size, near or far, and the lying planes are also present.

Piaget (1994; 1999; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000) explains that children take a long time to correctly represent points of view with perspective (even though they have the perceptual plane from an early age), because there is a difference between perspective and perspective representation.

Para considerar um objeto de determinado ponto de vista, não é necessário estar consciente dele. Em compensação, ‘representar-se ou representar graficamente o mesmo objeto em perspectiva, supõe que se tem consciência, simultaneamente, do ponto de vista sob o qual é percebido e das transformações devidas à intervenção desse ponto de vista’. Portanto, o que permite a figuração da perspectiva é a apreensão de uma relação entre o sujeito e o objeto observado. (PIAGET and INHELDER, 1948, p. 211; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 57)

Visual realism (starts between 8 and 9 years): with topographic relations constituted, distances, and, perspective and projective projections begin to harmonize and make themselves present.

Two other authors who talk about this last stage of children’s drawing as Stages of Realism are Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977). They explain that this phase begins at the age of nine and extends to twelve. In it, according to the authors, the drawing has a greater representation of the real despite still having symbology, and the self-criticism of the subject in relation to his drawings is much greater. Moreover, in this last phase, the child is more detailed, and also perceives himself as a member of a society, beginning to explore his thoughts about the world. About children’s drawing, the authors confess that it is not easy to perceive the transition of the steps and that they do not occur in the same phase or in the same way for all children.

Through the signs present in the traits, shapes, elements and colors, a well-trained psychologist can perceive and understand far beyond what graphics configure as representativeness of the I. The emotional state of the individual commonly presents itself, and can be detected in each element. However, many researchers in the past (and pioneers in the subject) have erroneously and limitedly analyzed this understanding that encompasses a much greater totality of conduct:

Descrito como mais ou menos forte, agressivo ou hesitante, o traço deu ocasião a estudos minuciosos, como os empreendidos por Alschuler e Hattwick que chegaram a uma tipologia sumária: linhas curvas e sinuosas nos indivíduos sensíveis e temerosos; ângulos retos, linhas firmes nos opositores e realistas. (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 57)

This quotation shows the author’s concern about the misunderstanding of the attempt to read the pioneers in this type of analysis because it was limited, however, it was a very important beginning, and others who came later broadened the reflection:

A escolha do formato e a amplitude da superfície recoberta testemunham o maior ou menor domínio do sujeito, suas inibições ou distúrbios. A repetição obsedante e sistemática de um mesmo motivo sobre toda a folha traduz um temperamento obsessivo e compulsivo; a criança tímida e introvertida desenha-se minúscula no centro da página, enquanto a instável preenche toda a superfície com traços nervosos. (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 63)

The writer also details that even the use of the leaf space defended by some experts would present questionable characteristics about the individual’s personality, since even the use of stains would be linked to the cultural interpretation of where the subject was inserted.

Conviria acrescentar qualquer simbologia universal, pois existe uma simbologia espacial, mas ao mesmo tempo individual e cultural. Encontramos aqui as observações de Freud sobre a impossibilidade de se constituir uma chave universal dos sonhos, já que o deciframento do sonho evoca uma simbologia que mergulha suas raízes na própria vida do sonhador. Não se poderia, pois, utilizar uma chave semelhante para interpretar o desenho. (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 63)

She also explains that they often ignore reading the use of colors in drawing analyses. As he explains, the habit of generalization (even established by contradictory studies) is still often taxing and mistaken. The choice of the use of certain colors by an individual is subjective, also depending on their culture and experiences, and, therefore, linked to sensory and rational, and cannot be systematic in the interpretation of third parties.

The use of graphic bases from drawings as diagnostics are sequenced by two parameters: intelligence tests and personality tests.

Intelligence tests: According to Mèredieu (2000), design tests determine the degree of intellectual maturation of an individual, that is, establish what stage of mental age the individual is in, and whether it is compatible with his chronological age of development. In these tests, even signs of weaknesses and mental illnesses are detected. In this process, the child is asked to reproduce geometric and human figures, and even drawings of imagination.

Personality tests: Since an individual’s drawings are his personality reflex, the projective value in this test is of paramount importance. Each theme sets up a test and powerful symbolic reader of what is inserted into each drawing. The requested drawings are ordered in the individual form of trees, human figures and even free drawings.

A composição da família, a ordem de aparecimento dos personagens, a estatura destes, os comentários que acompanham seu aparecimento, tudo será cuidadosamente observado no decorrer da execução; em geral o personagem mais importante é desenhado primeiro, seu tamanho é consequência disso – mas é preciso desconfiar destes dados gerais, pois o contexto clínico pode muito bem lançar por terra esta constatação; a ausência de um personagem, irmão ou irmã que a criança gostaria de excluir da família, revela-se na maioria das vezes como o sinal mais pertinente. Mas como observa adequadamente Widlocher, convém ‘tomar cuidado para não ir demasiadamente longe na interpretação destas anomalias (…) o desenho da família ensina-nos mais sobre a existência dos conflitos do que sobre sua natureza’. (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 72)

Therefore, it is a fact that drawings reflect inhibitions, intelligence disorders and behavior. However, the writer ponders with a criticism and concern about how the studies of analysis and the methods themselves are developed, making everything unreadable and/or masking results. This is therefore, the tests would all be standardized to fit individuals into pre-established results that depend on the interpretation of an adult. Due to these factors, the specialist understands that there are limits in the contribution of projective psychology and under the methodologies applied. She cites that “if the drawing is to be read, it is like totality, an expression of a desire of the child in the complete series not only of his transformations, but also of his elisões” (MÈREDIEU, 2000, p. 73).

In his work, Luquet (1969) points out that the reason the child draws is to have fun. She draws everything that is part of her experience and the things that surround her, so it is so common for the human figure in her works. For the author, as the child gets older, he begins to provide and include more details in his drawings.


This section excerpt presents a brief summary on the use of very specific graphic and artistic materials. Only those who were effectively presented during the research with the volunteers will be explained; this is therefore the variety of these materials is enormous, and the purpose of this article is not to focus on it. However, the exposure of these few specific elements, even helped in the breadth of understanding for the analysis of the drawings.

According to Carrano and Requião (2013), although the materials used for art have been known for many centuries by artists and teachers, today they have taken on new possibilities through therapists. Each of these events has a very unique and differentiated form, even for its characteristics and properties ranging from chemistry, from size variation to hardness. In this way, each material reproduces a specific language and also leads to a different response loaded with emotional content.

The images communicate by themselves, as well as their details and elements, as well presented by Buck (2003), Ocampo, et al. (2005), Retondo (2000), Mèredieu (2000), Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977) and Luquet (1969), but the element employed produces an expressive dialogue that for a layperson goes unnoticed. Much more than a pictorial reproduction or artistic expression, the association together of the materials with the drawing itself reproduces a whole construction (or reconstruction) of the psyche of the individual.

Carrano and Requião (2013) say that paper, for example, is not just a support for the expression of a drawing. Some researchers, such as those mentioned in this article, associate the vertical or horizontal position of its use chosen by the individual, with a direct connection with the feminine and the masculine. Horizontality would be linked to the feminine, comfort and safety. Perhaps that would explain why children love to use paper so much in that position. On the same high, there would be a relationship with the masculine, the phallic, to growth. The fact is that this cannot be interpreted literally, nor as a rule, because the individual can see only as the best space to insert what is proposed in his drawings.

According to the authors, rubber can also be seen as an element of attempting to restructure paths of weightings before choices. Materials such as graphite pencils and crayons, because they are in rigid wooden wrappers, as well as the hydrographic pen (also in a stiffened plastic wrap), produce rigid strokes and allow precision. On the other hand, they do not allow the individual to come into direct contact with the pigment, which differs with the use of crayons, crayons and even charcoal.

Carrano and Requião (2013) state that studies done in recent years by therapists and researchers show that subjects enter more effectively in connection with what they reproduce, when using materials in direct contact with pigments. This would occur because the individual could not avoid getting dirty with the pigments and these when they adhere to the skin, create not only the interaction between the subject and its reproduction, but he could not maintain the control of removal. Thus, emotional functions are more controlled in the use of pencil and hydrographic, and with this, the emotional through the unconscious does not emerge in its entirety.

As a graphic material, graphite pencil is stiffly present (but, varying the degree of hardness and softness), in wooden casing (very common) or in pure stick (this one, used by artists, designers and architects). For this characteristic, therapists use this material to work limits, attention, organization and concentration of an individual. According to the authors, the degree of hardness or softness variation of this graphite is achieved by mixing ceramic clay with graphite. The higher the amount of ceramic clay, the greater the hardness. This mixture ends up not only generating a difference in the stiffness of the stroke, but also in the texture, width of the line and the difference of light and shadow for lighter or darker effects. Therefore, the pencil helps in the process of concentration and fine motor coordination, of containing and redefining limits. Moreover, people who use this material tend to express themselves and better organize their feelings and their life, because it works as a basic sketch for the construction of something more concrete. Thus, the material also evokes saved memories. (CARRANO and REQUIÃO, 2013)

Both teachers and therapists can use it for behavior changes already instituted. The authors exemplify that people who like to be in control, dare not and like to remain safe from the same situation. In this case, the therapist begins to work with pencils (due to the rigid similarity with the individual himself), and gradually evolves progressively and proportionally to the other more malleable materials. In this sense, the authors emphasize that one can never begin with a material inverse to the subject’s psyche. Individuals very rigid and with difficulties in dealing with limits, tend to present resistance to the use of any type of material, but especially the most malleable.

The crayon works the same psychic points as graphite pencil, having only the differentiation of colors in the mines, which create a great appeal to feelings and emotions. Its constitution differs somewhat from graphite, because it has clay, colored pigment, wax and binder. Carrano and Requião (2013) state that the colored pencil (despite being on the same level of stiffness as graphite pencil), is understood by therapists as an intermediate material, because it facilitates the passage of the language of graphic materials (graphite) and drawings, allowing there to be an approximation of paints. This is due to the very fluidity that staining allows. Therefore, they act as a bridge between the rigid and the malleable state, and even by allowing themselves to exceed the limits imposed by the graphite trace.

In this evolutionary process from the colored pencil to the inks, there would still be the watercolor pencil, which works the passage of borders through water, which at the therapeutic level helps in the processes of passage and change of habits. The writers explain that, for example, overly organized, controlling and limited people will respect the limits of drawing in simple painting with the crayon. However, when using the wet brush, they tend to be frustrated by the lack of control it generates. To avoid this immediate impact, the first forms must be abstract and induced as a joke, so that when faced with their own drawings, evolve in the attempt of exploration and face the changes that cannot be controlled. The opposite with overly expansive individuals can also be done. The authors explain that first a watery aniline is prepared on paper, which generates misform stains. Then the individual needs to draw with the watercolor pencil on the wet spots, forcing in the act of drawing that boundaries lines appear there.

About the hydrographic pen, besides being also an intermediate material, Carrano and Requião (2013) say that this element leaves the contours well defined and does not allow the differentiation of nuances. Because of this, it strongly delimits spaces and demarcation permanence, since the design can not be undone. Also according to the authors, the crayon, also as an intermediate material, is a wax bar with colored pigments. Its shape mirrors and induces security to the individual, as it allows firmness in the trace, freedom of movement and direct contact with the material. All these factors are facilitators in the expressive process.

Finally, each material produces an effect and talks about the individual, and that added to the drawing by himself, allows reading about the psychological state of this subject.


Four volunteers participated in the research: an eight-year-old boy, a fifteen-year-old girl, a two-year-old baby and a nine-year-old girl.

To give progress to the collection procedures of the drawings, were offered for these four individuals, sheets of A4 paper in sulfite, rubber, black graphite pencil B2, colored pencil (with 12 colors), and felt-tip pens.

The minors were probed in their own home environment. The places were quiet and the children presented calm and comfort. Thus, it was requested that each one make a free drawing of their choice.

So, before starting the next analysis section of the drawings, it is worth mentioning and remembering that the verification here is not within the rigor of the HTP technique (BUCK, 2003; OCAMPO, et al., 2005; RETONDO, 2000), but only a cross of interpretation between the theories of Piaget (1994; 1999), Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977) and Luquet (1969).


Age: 08 years / Schooling: 3rd year of elementary school / Materials used: Graphite pencil, felt-tip pen, colored pencil and paper.

Figure 1 – LD drawing: 8 years old

Ld 8 year drawing
Source: team search file

At first, the child was very confused about what she would draw, and asked several times if she could draw whatever she wanted. At the time of starting the drawing, he started with pencils, then asked in sequence, if he could get around with canetinha, because, according to him, it is more beautiful. He skirted, then painted the areas very calmly using his own hydrographic pen. After the end of the drawing, the boy showed a lot of happiness in being able to have collaborated in the research work.

Analyzing the drawing from the traces and materials, it can be seen that the child designed a house that takes almost the entire proportion of the sheet and without presenting a floor (the leaf boundary was taken as floor). The lines come out of the sheet as if they were in continuity. The walls feature a single door as if it were the entrance (with doorknob) and an open space that appears to be a garage. The windows (three in all) are not represented on the body of the walls, but on the roof. There is nothing like supporting scenarios, characters (such as animals) or human figures present. In the general context, the house presents an effort to be presented in perspective, trying to create a notion of depth and distance.

The volunteer fits into the fifth structural phase of Piaget’s development (1999), which is childhood, and therefore he is building new social relationships for formatting and building cognitive interactions and socialization. Although there is no scenario or characters in the general context, there is an attempt at a more realistic perspective of the house, which would fit with the visual realism described by the author. The topographic relations signaled by Luquet (1969) and Mèredieu (2000) seem to be in an attempt to build, even by the perspective and projective projection essay that tries to make itself present. Moreover, as pointed out by Piaget (1994; 1999; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000), the house in this period of topological relationship, has great importance because it is an extension of the child’s body and personality, functioning as a mythical space for the projection of anxieties and fantasies.

The child’s drawing is in the period of the Schematic Stage cited by Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977), in which they state that the child draws in a more organized way, with the description of the moment when it is passing, and that usually contains straight lines. This weighting of the authors fit the design presented here (a house), because, according to the child himself, she had changed a short time from a house to an apartment, and thus contains many straight lines (the wall, the ceiling and the structure of the house: everything is in straight lines). He described the moment he had just passed, and portrayed the straight lines to build the house.

The voluntary child would also be within the third stage of luquet’s graphic evolution (1969; apud MÈREDIEU, 2000): intellectual realism (of four years, but, being extended to ten or twelve years of age). The main characteristic of this phase is the fact that the child does not draw what she sees, but rather what she knows how to draw. Usually the drawings are in a plane lying down, but this is more noticeable when reproduction has human figures. Therefore, as the volunteer represented only the house, it is not possible to do this analysis.

The boy chose the use of paper horizontally, and that according to Carrano and Requião (2013), is an indicator of search for safety and protection by warmth linked to the feminine. It is worth mentioning that Mèredieu (2000) disagrees with this psychological analysis based on paper positioning.

The volunteer chose to use for the construction of the drawing, graphite pencil snares and crayons and ballpoint pen; all without the rubber support. In the drawing, the use of graphite pencil was only as a basis, because it was then covered with a hydrographic pen for space demarcation and well-defined limits and free of doubts. The hydrographic pen was used to cover the entire roof, besides serving as a reinforcement in the traces. As an intermediate material, Carrano and Requião (2013) say that this element demarcates permanence in the psyche, since what is there, can not be undone. In addition, the roof is protection, it is the ceiling over our heads, and only he had padding by this material.

The painting of the walls and door was done with crayons. Both with the crayon and with the hydrographic pen, the child tried to fill all the spaces, even randomly, to leave it whole, compacted. This fill tried to stay within the boundaries of contour strokes by denoting someone who needs or likes to follow rules.

What drew much attention was the reinforcement of the hydrographic pen on the roof, the little use of colors (and there was a complete kit of both this material and colored pencil), and the absence of any other element besides the house itself.

The analysis of the materials used by the volunteer could not be further developed, since there was a limitation of free choice of material. Moreover, as already pointed out in the previous section, the aim of the research was not to focus on the details of the HTP test (BUCK, 2003; OCAMPO, et al., 2005; RETONDO, 2000). However, from the union of the design with the material, and more the knowledge based on the development phases of Piaget (1994; 1999), the study group was able to identify these points explained.


Age: 15 years / Schooling: 1st year of high school / Materials used: Graphite pencils, crayons (four colors), rubber and paper.

Figure 2 – LS drawing: 15 years

Drawing of LS 15 years
Source: team file

The teenager chose to start drawing with graphite pencils. He used rubber many times, as well as used a few colors of crayons. When asked what she had done, she replied that she drew the psychology student who asked her to do the drawing and her cat. When asked why she designed the academic, she informed that she did not know what to draw, so she took the initiative to reproduce it.

An interesting detail, is that the volunteer said that represented the older student, projecting for much more 30 years of age (the psychology student is currently 20 years old, and according to the explanation of the volunteer, would be about 19 years ahead). When asked why, she only replied, “Yes”. Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977) see this as symbology and showing the ability to have abstract thoughts as expected in the phase of formal operations raised in Piaget’s studies (1994; 1999).

Analyzing in more detail the illustration from the traces and materials, it is seen that the child tries to reproduce the real and the metaphysical as abstract language. The voluntary child would be within the fourth stage of evolution of Luquet’s graphics (1969), visual realism. Thus, it represents in accordance with its age, more adult scope designs, with a more realistic perspective and privilegium aesthetics.

Both human representation and animal present eyes, mouth and nose, as well as details such as eyebrows, eyelashes, cat whiskers and other small details. The abstract countenance of both presents vivacity and calm, still having the peculiarity of the reflection of light in the iris, thus giving a characteristic of as if they were facing the observer, and alive.

She chose the use of verticalized paper, which according to Carrano and Requião (2013), is a phallic indicator, possibly in the case of someone growing (such as the adolescent), which would be in accordance with an understanding of making their own paths and decisions; who thinks they’re having or has a certain power. Again, it is good to point out that Mèredieu (2000) disagrees with this psychological analysis based on paper positioning.

The volunteer chose to use for the construction of the drawing, graphite pencils and colored pencil, also having the support of rubber. The latter, used constantly (as already reported), redoing the traces several times. Rubber can also be seen as an element of an attempt to restructure paths of weightings before choices. The smaller the child, the less rubber is used, and precisely because it does not need to make as many thought structures, as Piaget (1994; 1999) supports. This is because she would be organizing new rules, values and the affirmation of will with the regularization and moral hierarchization.

Piaget (1994; 1999) named pseudo-naturalism the drawings of children from eleven years on, where it is in the phase of abstract operations. For the author, it is the end of art as a spontaneous activity. There is a greater awareness in the use of color, and may be objective or subjective.

In the drawing, the use of graphite pencils and covered with dark colored pencils, make a demarcation of space and limits well defined and free of doubts. It’s almost a reinforcement that there is. In addition, as Carrano and Requião (2013) explained, these two materials are chosen by individuals who tend to express themselves and better organize their feelings and life, because it serves as the basis of a sketch for the construction of something more concrete. In the case of the volunteer, this construction attempt was so intense that she designed the research student in the future almost twenty years ahead.

The effort to establish the contour lines demonstrates that the volunteer follows and/or likes to impose rules. She sets boundaries she wouldn’t want to be crossed. Another curiosity about these traces of discrimination of the drawing, is that they follow to the limit of the paper, configuring attempt to escape or expansion. Perhaps this is due to the very phase of development of the volunteer (adolescence), which according to Piaget (1994; 1999), her thinking is in strong expansion and building new reflections and theories beyond the family. In addition, this is reinforced in the painting within the drawing itself using the crayon. The spaces are filled inclined from the bottom up, tipping to the right, which indicates that the subject is possibly right-handed. This filling was done in whole, or little spaced, risks, but remains within the limits of contour strokes (which in normal terms are usually exceeded, even minimally, by someone not so rigid and controlling).

As raised by the three main theorists for the analysis of this article (and even reinforced by Mèredieu, 2000), it is possible to observe in the drawing of the 15-year-old child this notion of realism. The figure she chose to draw was the psychology academic researcher herself, who was in front of her. Concentration, use of rubber and attention to detail show concern about fitting into the real/adult world.

The volunteer is in the last phase of the children’s drawing that Luquet (1969) presented in his studies (Visual Realism), in which the child imitates what the adult draws and begins to care more about aesthetics. Again, the analysis based also on the materials used by the volunteer can not be further, since there was limitation of free choice of material. However, from the union of the design with the material, and more the knowledge based on the development phases of Piaget (1994; 1999), the team was able to identify these points explained about the design presented by the volunteer child 2.


Age: 02 years / Schooling: Does not attend school / Materials used: Colored pencil and paper.

Figure 3 – MM drawing: 2 years

DESIGN OF MM 2 years
Source: Team file.

The child was very enchanted with the crayons; kept watching the colors for a long time, until I started thinking about what drawing she would do. He didn’t want to use the black graphite pencil, because he said he wanted it to look colorful, and talked a lot throughout the activity about random subjects. His choice was for the horizontality of the sheet and the drawings were within the area of the paper, becoming a little more centered. In the end, she explained that the drawing was a table with dirt, a chair and a toast.

This individual would be within the fourth stage (intuitive intelligence, spontaneous interindividual feelings and social relationships of submission to the adult), identified by Piaget (1994; 1999) as the stage of early childhood (2 to 7 years). According to the author’s narrative and analysis of the drawing, the child met the expectations of someone very talkative, with the construction of many narratives and extremely sociable. Moreover, this two-year-old individual presents himself within the first stage of Luquet’s fortuitous realism (1969), characterized by the end of the scribble period (the garatuja) and beginning the connection between his traits and the figures, and naming his drawings.


Age: 09 years / Schooling: 4th grade of elementary school / Materials used: Crayons (four colors) and paper.

Figure 4 – ND drawing: 9 years

Drawing of ND 9 years
Source: team file

The minor (volunteer child 1) had enough difficulty in knowing what would be drawn, used several colors, and after starting the drawing, managed to do very fast and decided, without using the rubber, or asking for another sheet. He didn’t talk at all during the activity, and when it was over, he said it was a garden that “came into his head.”

Volunteer child 1 (8 years), volunteer 4 (9 years) presented some similarities, starting with time thinking about what to do. The freedom to produce what he wanted, but, with the understanding he should plan, presented himself in both individuals. If individual 1 sought safety in the hydrographic pen, subject 4 was focused on what he was doing. Both also refused to use rubber for corrections. The choices for the horizontality of the sheet were also identical, and the drawings expanded out of the paper area.

The third similarity arose in the general context of theme choice. While volunteer 1 chose the representation of his house, volunteer 4 decided to represent a garden with many details. However, child 4 made the choice for the colored pencil, still trying to use all the spaces of the sheet including leaking the drawing as if it had external continuity. The traces were safe and firm in the main elements, and the coloration was well demarcated within the boundaries of the contour strokes.

A curiosity: she used many curved shapes and in the center there is a small river, just as the tree has a protected branch below the canopy, which also has a bird’s nest (with the mother in the nest). This would be analogous to the weighting brought by Mèredieu (2000) that spherical forms and representation of water (river or lake) would bring the unconscious memory of the uterus, and thus bring them tranquility and security. Moreover, the scenario presents the effort of perspective, trying to create a notion of depth and distance, but the topographic relationships are still in an attempt to build. Planning and rebate are present.

Therefore, as with volunteer 1, volunteer 4 fits into the fifth structural phase of Piaget’s development (1994; 1999), building new social relationships for formatting and construction of cognitive interactions and socialization. Finally, like individual 1, volunteer child 4 would also be within the third stage of Luquet’s graphic evolution (1969): intellectual realism.


It is important the language expressed by the drawing, since children have more difficulty in exposing in words what they go through, feel or mean.

In the course and finalization of the evaluative study, it was possible to respond positively to both the guide problem – is it possible to detect differences in the psychic development of children and point out behavioral and emotional factors through drawings? – as for the preliminary hypothesis. It is possible to detect differences in the psychic development of the children approached and to point out behavioral and emotional factors through their drawings. The identification and evaluation of the stages of development of children through drawings were tangible, making it possible to detect in each small volunteer present the crossing with Piaget’s theorization of almost a century. Although contemporary children present development accelerations, the time clippings and behaviors are analogous with the smaller ones observed by Piaget.

The differences between the phases of the children and that they would be obvious to identify from the knowledge of the theoretical studies seen here in this article were respected. Yes, I’m not going to these factors are obvious in view of the understanding of the concepts, and not only by the lag itself, for example, looking at a 2-year-old individual and comparing him with someone 9 years old and 15 years old.

The subtleties of psychic development and what is not apparent to the look and judgment, arises in the traits not formatted by speech. It was evident that it is appropriate to identify the phases that Piaget (1994; 1999) through the drawing and relate to the moment in which the child is. Therefore, the importance that drawings have as one of the methods used by Psychology is reinforced, to understand what is happening in the body and mind of the child (and even of individuals in general, regardless of their age). Therefore, it is possible to understand a person’s personality and anxieties by graphing.

It was possible to understand that the materials used in the elaboration of the drawings can effectively corroborate the psychological reading, and assist in the crossing of theories such as Piaget, Luquet and other authors, for an amplified reading of the assessment of the adequacy of the age and mental phase of the individual, in addition to the analysis of its psychic and behavioral contents.

The team found that the identification of the differences in the children’s phases becomes possible by giving names and meanings to the large, small actions that children perform – and that in day-to-day life, they become common and meaningless. In this process, the materials also elucidate by themselves the psychological structures of the subjects. Paper, graffiti, pastels, paints, glues and others: all have functions that go far beyond mere graphic or artistic reproduction. They are the tools that precipitate in totality something deeper from the subject’s consciousness, and complete gaps that, depending on the age of the individual, can undergo manipulation of emotional state.

It is remarkable, after the understanding of the works mentioned here, the influence of the environment not only on child development, but also on its creativity and originality. In addition, it is perceived how the conditions – the materials in the case of children’s graphics, and the environment in the case of the psychomotor development of the child – are essential for the child to reach (or not) its potential.

As the authors mentioned, adolescents are more focused on details, reproduction of adult works, not to err. In addition, it is linked to abstract ideas (formal operations). This scenario of adolescent development is clear when analyzing the drawing of the fifteen-year-old volunteer, because she frequently used rubber when trying to achieve an aesthetic “perfection” and erasing her “mistakes”. Moreover, the design was at the same time real and metaphysical: the volunteer designed the psychology student who did the data collection (in addition to deciding it in the future, 19 years ahead), and drew her cat in as much detail as possible.

All the children observed and analyzed presented their development phases analogous to the studies of Piaget (1994; 1999) and Luquet (1969), the two main fundamental researchers of this work, but, without forgetting also the support of Lowenfeld and Brittain (1977) and Mèredieu (2000), as well as the other theoreticians used as support. All theorizations were reliable to the collected, observed and analyzed data of the volunteer children.

In a general context, the knowledge of the phases of Piagetian human development, with the psychological meaning through the drawings, and the psychic language in the materials themselves used, form a powerful tool for well-trained professionals in these aspects, to perform a precise reading about not only the demands of the individual, but also by which driving paths will be able to treat it.


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[1] Specialist in Pedagogical Neuroscience at AVM Educacional/UCAM/RJ; specialist in Art therapy in Education and Health at AVM Educacional/UCAM/RJ; specialist in Behavior and Consumption Research at SENAI CETIQT RJ; specialist in Visual Arts at UNESA/RJ; bachelor’s degree in Design from SENAI CETIQT RJ College. Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[2] Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[3] Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[4] Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[5] Bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from Casper Libero College/SP. Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[6] Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

[7] Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UNIP/SP.

Submitted: July, 2021.

Approved: January, 2022.

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