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Rich Picture

What is a Rich Picture?

A rich picture is a drawing of a situation that illustrates the main elements and relationships that need to be considered in trying to intervene to create some improvement. It consists of pictures, text, symbols and icons should all be used to graphically illustrate the situation. It is called a rich picture because it illustrates the richness and complexity of a situation.

Why develop a Rich Picture?

A rich picture helps us to understand the complexity of an entire situation. It is a way of thinking holistically. A rich picture helps us to see relationships and connections that we may otherwise miss.  It is considered as ‘a picture tells a thousand words’, and developing a rich picture is a good group exercise as everyone can add to it and use it to explain their particular interests or perspectives. Besides, a rich picture can also be a non-threatening and humorous way of illustrating different perspectives and conflicts. It is best developed in groups of about 4-7 people.

Rich picture steps

The following steps lead groups to developing a rich picture. Allocate at last 1-1,5 hours.


  • A rich picture is best developed in a group of about 4 - 7 people.
  • Have a large piece of flip chart paper or brown paper.
  • Put the paper on a table or on the ground around which everyone is sitting or standing in a way that each person can easily draw on the picture.  Make sure each person has a marker (within the group different colored markers).
  • One person should facilitate the group work: encourage everyone to contribute and make it clear that skill in drawing is not at all important.
  • Choose a case (based on criteria…). As a group you will develop ONE rich picture about the case.  


  • Draw in the centre the problematic, the key issue of the MSP case. You draw the current situation.
    • Draw the problematic or the key issue
    • Who are the stakeholders and how do they relate to the problematic or issue?
    • What are their relations to each other?
    • Context description: causes and effects
    • Any other relevant social, economic, political, environmental features or issues
  • Start drawing, don’t start talking or discussing. Explain as you draw!
  • Who are the stakeholders and how do they relate to the problematic or the issue?
  • Draw the relations to each other.
  • Draw the context, the causes and effects and any other relevant social, economic, political, environmental features or issues
  • You can use a legend or some words to explain stakeholders or problems, but do not use too many words

Wrap up

Write down on cards the 5 main challenges of the MSP case arising from your rich picture.

Facilitator’s feedback

About the facilitator: How was it for him/her to do this? What were some of his strengths? What could s/he do differently next time?

Example of a rich picture

A very creative presentation of a relatively simple rich picture is given by Flomella S. Alilio-Caguicla, DVM from the Bureau of Animal Industry in Lagalag, Tiaong, Quezon, the Philippines. In 2012 she attended the CDI course on "Transition to sustainable production systems".