pictionary rules

OBJECTIVE OF PICTIONARY: Guess the drawings correctly and be the first team to move your game piece to the last square on the board.


MATERIALS OF PICTIONARY: Pictionary game board

TYPE OF GAME: Board game



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The next time you’re looking for a fun game that will also allow you to show off your artistic side, look no further than Pictionary. It combines the fun of charades with the board game format. 

Don’t worry; you don’t need to be Picasso to play. Let’s go over the rules to this awesome game. Bring it out during your next game night and watch the good times roll.

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pictionary board

Pictionary is actually quite a simple game. To get started, you need a few friends, a flat surface, and a Pictionary game box.


Inside the pictionary game box are the following:

  • 1 Die
  • 1 Timer
  • 4 Game pieces
  • 1 Game board
  • 4 Drawing pads
  • 4 Pencils
  • 4 Category cards
  • 2 Card Boxes
  • 80 Junior cards
  • 120 Adult cards


Before starting the game, you need to take the board out of the box and set it up on a flat surface. Next, if you’re playing with older players, take the adult cards, shuffle them, and place them facing the same direction in the card box. Place this next to the board where it is easily accessible.

There is also a category reference card. You can give one to each player or team. This lets you know what the pictures on the board refer to. See Categories section.


Now that the pictionary board is set up, you need to split into teams of two to four, depending on the number of players. There are only four game pieces, so have each team choose one. Place all four pieces on the start square, and give each layer a drawing pad and a pencil.

After the game is set up, you must choose one player from each team to be the “picturist” or the artist. They will draw during the turn. Have each team roll the die to decide who will go first. Then, the play goes clockwise.


There are five categories in pictionary. These are what the colored squares on the board refer to. They include the following:

  • All play (AP) – This refers to any word or phrase
  • Difficult (D) – Particularly challenging words or expressions
  • Actions (A) – Verbs: activities, occurrences, or states of being
  • Person/Place/Animal (P) – Nouns, including proper names
  • Object (O) – Also nouns, but inanimate ones that can be touched or seen

The square you land on will have a specific color, you can look at your category reference card during the game to remind you.


Now everything is set up, and you are ready to get started. Everyone starts on the same square. 


The first player should choose a card from the deck and secretly look at the card. They must choose the word of the color they are currently on. The first player gets 5 seconds to review the card and decide what to sketch. If there is a picture of four pencils or an (AP) on the square, then all the players sketch during the turn. Otherwise, only the player who drew the card sketches.



After reviewing the card for 5 seconds, the timer is flipped over. You get one minute to sketch the secret word and have your team guess. You can not speak during your turn and may not use any letters in your sketch. Your teammates keep guessing until they guess correctly or until the time runs out. 

If your team guesses correctly before time runs out, you can roll the dice and move forward that number of squares. Then, you get to play again. Choose a different picturist, draw another card, and choose the word corresponding to your new square.

If your team guesses incorrectly, then play passes to the next player, and you don’t get to move your piece.


There are a few rules you must follow when sketching. You may do the following:

  • Draw anything related to the word, no matter how crazy the link.
  • Break words down into smaller parts or syllables.
  • Use other versions of the word, for example, “mail” for “male”.

You may NOT:

  • Use dashes to show how many letters
  • Use letters or numbers
  • Speak to your teammates
  • Use sign language
  • Draw things that don’t relate to the clue, like drawing “ears” for “sounds like.”


If the current square is an (AP) all play, then all the picturists get to look at the card. Then, once the timer is flipped, everyone gets to sketch. The first team to guess correctly before the timer runs out gets to roll the die and move their piece. If no team guesses correctly, then the game play continues clockwise as normal.


There are also some wild squares on the Pictionary board. If you land on this one, then the picturist can choose any category to play. They must announce the category out loud before sketching.


The game is almost over once you reach the last square on the board. Before you can win, you must guess the final word as dictated by the final square. It is usually an all-play. 

If you don’t guess correctly, then it is the next player’s turn. You can’t win until you guess correctly.


Once you have reached the last square and you guess the final word correctly, you win.


Pictionary is an extremely fun game that has been around for quite some time. It has inevitably had some spin-offs and variations. A few of them include:


Junior Pictionary Mania
  • Great game to ignite children's imagination
  • Fast & fun game for ages 7+ - younger and older players can play together
  • Any one can play - you don't have to be great at drawing!

This is a variation specific to younger players. It features 1200 drawing prompts that are much easier since they are catered to a younger audience.


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This variation is fun because it is very portable. Rather than sketching, you need to choose pre-drawn images and use them as props to act out clues for your teammates. This is great for people who are exceptionally bad at drawing.


Mattel Games Pictionary: Showdown
  • Innovative new way to play Pictionary game with an exciting speed challenge
  • Customizable play time!
  • Reward for speed!

This variation is really fun because it intensifies an already fast-paced game. You split into two teams and take turns guessing what your picturist is drawing before the buzzer rings. The flashing lights and sounds definitely turn up the intensity.



We are always of the opinion that you can take an already fun game and add booze to make it even more fun. Drunk Pictionary simplifies the game and lets you get drunk while playing. Two or more players take turns drawing something on a piece of paper for 20 seconds. For every wrong guess you add some alcohol to a glass, and before your partner can guess, they must finish the drink!

Love this game? Check out Codenames for more guessing fun!


What Are the 5 Categories in Pictionary?

The five categories in pictionary are (P) for person/place/animal. (O) for object, (A) for action, (D) for difficult, and (AP) for all play.

Can You Play Pictionary with Three Players?

You can play Pictionary with three players. One person will be the picturist for both players, and they will remain the picturist for the whole game.

How Do You Win at Pictionary?

You win if your team makes it to the final square and correctly guesses the final word before the timer runs out.

Alan Lemus