Lines to Things

Squiggles to Birds

Squiggle birds are an excellent warm-up and confidence booster. Once you start drawing these little birds, you will find them cropping up in the margins of your notebooks, shopping lists, etc. Squiggle birds work due to the principle of pareidolia, “the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.” We most commonly play with pareidolia by searching for animals in clouds. This principle applies equally well to squiggles, and once students see that they can draw birds, they start to become forgiving of their own drawing abilities.  Drawing squiggles into things is open to immense variations. Our take is derived from David Greys’, author of the book Game Storming.



  • 8½ x 11” paper
  • Thick markers 2 colours (1 dark, 1 highlight)


  • Using the dark pen, fill the page with squiggles.
  • Using the highlight pen, add a triangle to each squiggle (pointing out)
  • Add a 2nd triangle (pointing in)
  • Add a dot to each (or 2)
  • Add 2 forks
  • Revel in your flock of squiggle birds

Lesson Plan

This activity can be done individually or as a team.  One person can start the drawing and then pass it along to the next, each adding new details as they go.  These can be simple birds in a flock minding their own business or by adding accessories, such as hats or handguns, they can become characters in a story.

You may try using a photo reference and loosely squiggling in the shape of the bird.

Bonus points

Do monster activity from Lynda Barry next.



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Drawing in Class by Jason Toal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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