Guide to Pictionary

When the terms “Picture” and “Dictionary” were combined, the name “Pictionary” was born. Inspiring Rob Angel to create this game was the Merriam-collegiate Webster’s he kept by his bed. He used this dictionary for help with the game. Picture + Dictionary = Pictionary, he informed his buddies, and the name stuck.

People play Pictionary to see if they can figure out what words their colleagues have created by looking at the photos. The original 1985 version was created by Robert Angel and Gary Everson. Pictionary was acquired by Mattel, a global toy and entertainment firm, in 2001.

Object of the Game 

The goal of the game is to draw your way from the beginning to the end. The team that gets to the Finish Square first and gets the last sketch right is the winner.


  • 120 Adult Cards
  • 80 Junior Cards
  • 2 Card Boxes
  • 4 Category Cards,
  • 4 Pencils
  • 1 Drawing Pad
  • 1 Game Board
  • 4 Movers
  • 1 Sand Timer
  • 1 Die


1. Take the Adult Card Deck and put the category cards in a Card Box. The Junior Card Deck should be put in the other Card Box. Set up the Card Boxes and Sand Timer so that all players can get to them easily.

2. Divide into equal teams (maximum of four teams). When there are less teams and more people on each team, the game goes faster and is more fun.

3. Give each team a pencil, a category card, and a different colored mover (which they place on the Start Square).

4. Each team chooses a “Picturist” who will draw the first word.

5. The order of play is set by rolling a die. The team with the most points rolls first.


Each word card in the Adult Card Deck is divided into five groups that match the colors on the board. 

  • Yellow – OBJECT (Things that can be visible or touched)
  • Blue – PERSON/PLACE/ANIMAL (It contains names)
  • Orange – ACTION (actions that can be taken)
  • Green – DIFFICULT (Difficult words)
  • Red – MISCELLANEOUS (This might be any kind of term)


Group of comrades

1. The Start space is a yellow square (OBJECT in the Adult Card Deck and the yellow bar in the Junior Card Deck), so the first word played is from the yellow category. To begin, the die is not rolled.

2. The Picturist on the team that is going first takes the top card from the right deck (if a team has a younger player, they always use the Junior Card Deck) and looks at the word to be played.

3. If this is a Junior card, the Picturist reads out loud to his team the category at the top of the card (not the clue in the yellow bar – that’s the secret word they’ll draw.).

4. The timer starts again, and the Picturist has one minute to draw clues for the rest of their team. Sketching and guessing will keep going until the word is found or the time runs out.

5. If a team’s guess is right, they keep playing by rolling the die, moving the number of squares shown, and choosing a new Picturist. Then, they pick a new card from the right deck and draw a word that matches the color of the square they landed on. Every time a team draws a new word, the Picturist has to change.

6. As long as a team has the die, they can keep drawing and rolling.

7. If a word isn’t guessed in the allotted time, the die moves to the left. The team that gets the die doesn’t start its turn by rolling the die. Instead, it takes a new card from the top of the deck. A new turn starts when the timer is turned over.

8. The word to play is the one that matches the color of the square where the team’s cube is. The only time the die is rolled to move a cube is when a word is found within the one-minute time limit or when a team is the first to find the word in any All Play situation.

9. A team has to stay in a square as long as it can’t figure out what the given word is. There can be more than one mover in a square at the same time.


1. If a team’s number lands on an All Play Square, all teams will try to figure out the clue at the same time. The word card is shown to the Picturists on each team after the card is drawn from the right deck.

2. From the Adult Card Deck, both Picturists will pick the clue in the category that matches the color of the All Play square.

3. In the Junior Card Deck, the Picturists will say out loud the category and then draw the clue from the bar that matches the color of the All Play Square. The timer starts over, and all of the Picturists draw the same word at the same time to their teams.

Note Even if an adult player’s team lands on the all play square, if both picturists are under the age of 18, both teams will pick a clue from the Junior Card Deck.

4. The team that figures out the clue first and gets it right wins the round and gets to roll the die and move forward the number of spaces shown. Now it’s this team’s turn to say a new word.

5. If no team figures out the word in the allotted time, the die is passed to the left to the next team. But this team doesn’t roll the die. Instead, it starts its turn by taking a new card and drawing the word that matches the color square it is on.

Remember that any team that first finds a “All Play” word gets the die, rolls it, moves the number of squares shown on the die, and gets another card.

Wild Square

If a team is on a Wild Square, the Picturist can look at the card and choose any category to play (or any clue to play if using the Junior Card Deck).

If they’re using the Adult Card Deck, they have to say what category they’re in before drawing!

End of the Game

1. To win the game, a team must get to the final all-play square (an exact roll is not required). To win, they must have control of the die and be the first team to say the word during the next “All Play” round.

2. If no team figures out the “all play” word in the allotted time, the die moves to the left.

3. If another team finds the “all play” word first, that team gets the die.

4. A team that is already on the final all-play square cannot win the game by winning a round that is controlled by another team. To try to make a winning word, it needs to get back control of the die.

Do’s and Don’ts

You can…

  • Draw anything that has to do with the word, even if it has nothing to do with it. 
  • Break the word into a number of syllables.
  • Draw “flu” or “flue” or “dock” for “doc”, etc.

You cannot…

  • Use “ears” for “sounds like” or dashes to show how many letters are in the word. 
  • Use letters or numbers. 
  • Talk to your teammates.
  • Use sign language

The Benefits of Playing Pictionary

Woman showing her drawing

You might be wondering how something as simple as a game can help you learn so much. The truth is that people get involved and learn while playing games because they are easy to understand and fun.

Here is a short list of all the great things about playing Pictionary.

1. It Promotes Creativity

In Pictionary, you can draw what you want. While playing the game, each player learns that different people have different ways of showing their creativity.

The game encourages players to draw pictures as they see them in their minds, in the hopes that this will help them communicate with each other. Players can get to know each other better by using their creativity in this way. It could also lead to people having more open minds.

2. Enhances Logical Thinking Skills

When playing Pictionary as a group, there is some pressure to draw things that can be understood and to guess what other people’s drawings might be. Of course, you don’t want to fall short of people’s expectations, and the extra pressure makes you think more logically.

Players don’t want to let their teams down, so they don’t just guess without giving it much thought. Instead, they spend more time thinking logically about the images and ideas that are being shown to them.

3. Aids Memory Retention

Seeing something in your mind’s eye is the easiest way to remember it. In Pictionary, the player must be able to draw a picture of the word. To do this, the player needs to be able to see what they want and organize their thoughts.

Playing the game gets the brain working, and just like a body needs exercise to stay strong, a memory needs exercise to stay fit and active. Your memory can be worked out when you play Pictionary.

4. Creates a Platform for Trust

Players have to trust each other in order to win at Pictionary. Players have to believe that their teammates are trying to win the game and not trying to set them up to lose.

When new players are paired up, it can take a while for them to get to know each other and trust each other. However, because Pictionary is fun, this trust is built up quickly.

5. Encourages Discipline 

You can only win at Pictionary if you are willing to follow the rules. This means that there are rules to the game that everyone on the team needs to be willing to follow.

Players need to know the rules and keep them in mind when they carefully make their image or try to figure out what it means. Every time a player does this, they get in trouble.

6. Promotes the Sharing of Ideas

During a game of Pictionary, the focus isn’t just on one person, but on everyone. Each player has to share their ideas and try to figure out what the other players are saying.

As the game goes on and players get to know each other, they learn what kind of ideas make sense to their teammates and how to share ideas in a way that makes sense to them.

7. Offers a Less Expensive Way of Learning

Learning can happen anywhere when playing Pictionary, even if there isn’t a building or structure around. Unlike some other games, you don’t need any special equipment to play this one.

You can buy the game as a set, or you can make your own version with paper and pens. This also lets you decide what the game is about based on what lessons you want to teach.

8. Affordable Equipment/material

As has already been said, the things you need to play Pictionary are very cheap. You can play Pictionary with scrap paper, a chalkboard, or a whiteboard.

Because you don’t have to buy an official board and all the extra pieces that come with it, anyone can play Pictionary, even if they don’t have money for games.

9. Encourages Healthy Competition

In Pictionary, there must be a winner and a loser, but because the game is so much fun, it teaches people how to lose with grace.

Parents and teachers can teach kids how to be better losers by showing them that even losing can be fun with Pictionary (when playing a game).

10. Promotes Team Building

Not everyone works well in a team, and that’s okay. Games like Pictionary can help you learn how to work with other people.

Pictionary is all about working together. Players must help each other get to know one another. The game encourages players to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and use them to win.


Pictionary is a classic drawing game that you should definitely try out the next time you get together with a group of friends. It moves quickly, is a lot of fun, and is very easy to learn.