Symbol Drawing Interface

A Video Game interface (or part of it) based on drawing symbols on the screen with your mouse, controller, or stylus, usually to cast Functional Magic.

A Sub-Trope of Some Dexterity Required. See also Geometric Magic.


  • Black & White uses an interface where you perform miracles by drawing corresponding symbols on the ground.
    • The sequel keeps this but also adds the option of using a more traditional interface.
  • Sacrifice allowed you to navigate through the tactical menus with this, although clicking or using keyboard shortcuts was usually simpler.
  • In Turgor, you do pretty much everything except walking and talking by drawing symbols on the screen and feeding them with energy.
    • Even talking to Sisters requires it.
  • The PC-version of Fahrenheit replaces control stick motion patterns of the consoles with tracing the same patterns with a mouse, effectively making it this.
  • Several Nintendo DS games:
  • The Harry Potter video games use this method for spell-casting.
  • The gameplay of Ōkami and Ōkamiden revolve primarily around the Celestial Brush Techniques, requiring the player to "paint" symbols on the screen to create various effects such as, among other things, making the sun rise.
  • In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life the Licensed Game, in the section "Live Organ Transplants" you as a surgeon have to cut into a body. It starts out with simple lines, then gets more complex and the last one you have to do is in the image of Gumby.
  • An In-Universe example in Heavy Rain: Although this interface is not used by the player, Norman Jayden's ARI does have a consistent motion-control interface.
  • Metroid Prime has another in universe example; using the X-Ray visor (or paying attention to the icons on the weapon display) indicates that Samus switches between different functions and fires her Arm Cannon via hand gestures.
  • Early versions of Darwinia used this system to summon units. This was replaced by default with a menu-based system in later versions.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs allows you to draw symbols that summon Pokémon you've encountered, particularly Legendaries.
  • Arx Fatalis used this for its magic system.
  • Myst V had you draw symbols on a special slate in order to command the strange creatures that inhabited the worlds you visited. Noted for being frustratingly buggy; it often took several tries for a symbol to be recognised, and it was easy to accidentally draw the symbol that would take you to the end of the level.
  • In-Universe, non-Video Game example: In Simoun, the Ri Maajons are graphical patterns drawn in the air with the eponymous aircraft's mystical gems, which, if drawn correctly, bring forth powerful magic.
  • Various "Gestures" add-ons for Mozilla Firefox allow you to browse the web with a Symbol Drawing Interface.
  • In the Dream World of the generation V Pokémon games, there's a minigame where you have to guide a Sableye in a mine cart to collect gems by drawing symbols representing each platform to jump on.
  • In-Universe example: In Homestuck, Jade uses the Pictionary fetch modus, which means she picks up items by drawing them on a tablet computer.
  • Descension: Depths of De'Mae. You draw rune shapes over an area, and a spell is cast on that area. For Lightning spells, the bottom tip must touch the foe, while foes within the area of a triangle spell will take damage.
  • A very simple variant appears in The World Ends with You; certain pins with Spark Core or Apport psychs require the player to draw a circle on the screen.
  • The casual game Drawn is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: you draw pictures to make things manifest or change.