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Stages of Drawing Development Part 2: Schematic, Dawning Realism, and Pseudorealistic Stages

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR_BC

Drawing is an important mode of visual communication and one that is often taught at an early age. It is a way for people to share their thoughts and feelings, and can be used for everything from sketching out an idea to capturing a moment in time. In this blog post we will continue to explore the developmental stages of drawing for children and the significance of each stage in self-expression.

Schematic Stage

Schematic is the third stage of drawing in which children begin to create more realistic drawings by using details and shading. By the age of 6 to 11 years, children reach the schematic stage where they are able to create images that adhere to a consistent symbol to represent a specific object or concept. This is often known as symbolic drawing and children at this stage begin to use symbols such as letters and numbers for different objects or concepts. This phase allows them to experiment with artistic styles, different mediums, and techniques. During this stage children begin to understand perspective constructs and how objects relate to one another on a larger scale. This stage in drawing development often corresponds with the children’s understanding of the world around them.

During this stage, children will draw a person as a head with legs, with details such as eyes, arms, fingers, and a trunk added as they become important. In addition to drawings of people and other familiar objects, children may also begin drawing more abstract creations such as animals or flowers. As children’s drawing skills improve over time, they will begin incorporating more detailed features into their artwork, such as hair or clothing. In the schematic stage, children’s drawings become recognizable figures. With the emergence of recognizable shapes and lines in their drawings, children begin experimenting with perspective and other drawing elements such as color and composition.

Dawning Realism Stage

Transitional/dawning realism is the fourth stage of drawing in which children become more accurate in their drawings and start using perspective. Children at this juncture develop artistic skills such as balance, composition, shading, proportionality, and selective focus. In the dawning realism stage, children’s drawings become more realistic as they perfect their understanding of basic drawing principles such as perspective. This understanding enables them to draw more accurate representations of objects in the real world.

Pseudo Realistic Stage

In the final stage of drawing children gain proficiency in artistic expression through the use of color, shape, line, form, texture, light/ shadow, etc. The pseudo realistic stage of drawing development begins at age 11 or 12 years. In this stage, children become more focused on the level of realism achieved in their drawings. This is often characterized by reasoning and self-criticism and an awareness of the natural environment. At this stage, children begin to recognize proportions, value, light, and depth as important elements of drawing. It is important to encourage children during this stage of development as frustration is common. As children grow and develop their drawing skills, they should be given the space and time needed to experiment and develop their unique artistic style.

For children, drawing is a form of communication and play. It’s not just about putting colors or lines on paper; it’s also about exploring the world around them and learning new things. As children go through different stages of drawing development, they learn to use drawing as a tool for self-expression, exploration, and creative expression. The stages of drawing discussed above are essential for children’s artistic growth and expressing themselves aesthetically. Bearing these stages in mind when working with children will help you understand their artistic development better.


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