International Journal of Art & Design Education

When Adolescents Represent the Third Dimension: Three Case Studies

Volume 24.1   2005

Stavridou, Fotini & Kakana, Domna


The main focus of this article is the representation of the third dimension. The sample is sixty adolescent 14-year-olds. Our research is concerned with the study of the drawings of the same array of 3D objects in three cases: the representation of 3D objects without the presence of models (through verbal instructions), by observation of physical models, and by observation of their digital models on a computer screen.

The study examines the drawing techniques applied by adolescents to represent the 3rd dimension and the impact of the model (3D physical or digital model) in the drawing outcome.
A comparison study of the three kinds of drawings of the same array of objects showed that 14-year-old children face serious difficulties in depicting the third dimension in the absence of a model, using mainly a mixture of drawing devices typical of earlier stages, according to theories of drawing development. On the other hand, when drawing from observation, the nature of the model seems to play an important role in the drawing outcome, with a clear superiority in performance when the model is digital. The findings of this study suggest that the more extended use of 3D models, either physical or digital, could help the better understanding of spatial relationships and evoke the use of more advanced drawing techniques for the depiction of 3D layouts. The study also suggests that a better understanding of the nature of graphic development in adolescence is essential for many areas of the curriculum.