Fun Surrealist Drawing: Create a Creature

Len Lye loved art made with a spirit of freedom, spontaneity, and risk-taking. He called this the art of ‘the old brain’ (or unconscious mind). Like the Surrealists, he sought to generate new kinds of imagery through the process of ‘doodling’ or ‘automatic drawing’. 

Let your imagination run wild and draw an imaginary creature with the help of whānau and friends.

Look carefully at Len Lye's paintings below for ideas.

You will need:


Something to draw with:



Felt tips


Whatever you have at home

Len Lye used his imagination and tapped into his 'old brain' to get ideas for these paintings.

King of Plants Meets First Man (on the left hand side) was painted in 1936.

Tree People (on the right hand side) was painted in 1947.

Rainbow Dance, installation images, Len Lye Centre, 2021. Len Lye Foundation Collection, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Step 1

Fold up an A4 paper into three parts - like a concertina.

You want to make sure that the paper is divided into three even sections, one for the head, one for the body and one for the feet / tail or legs.

Each person should have their own sheet of paper.

Step 2

Beginning at an end of the paper, draw the head of your creature, so that the body and feet can fill up the remaining space.

Think about colours, skin tones, hair, scales, fur or feathers?
Does your creature have eyes?
If so, what shape?
One big eye or 20 tiny eyes?
Does your creature have a nose?
Or ears?

When you are happy with your creatures head fold over your paper so the next person can't see what you have drawn.

Step 3

Swap your paper with someone else.

Next, draw the body of your imaginary creature, anything is possible!

Does your creature have multiple legs? wings? or arms?
Is it wearing clothes? 
Does it have hands and fingers, claws or talons?

Draw as much or as little detail as you would like.

Step 4

Swap your paper with someone else.

Next, draw the bottom section of your creature!

Does your creature have lots of legs and arms or a tail?
Think of fun ways your creature could move around.
Does it live in the ocean and have a whale tail?
Does it live in the forest and climb trees?
Does it live on cliff tops and fly through the clouds?

Make sure you are illustrating these features by what you add to your creatures body!

Step 5

When your creature has the head, body and legs drawn, it's time for the big reveal!

Open out your paper to reveal your surreal fantasy creature!

Give your creature a name.

All Done!

How did your artwork turn out? We would love to see your creation!

Share it with us, take a photo and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #GBCreate or email it to us: and we can share it for you.⁠