A full understanding of emotions and emotion characteristics can only be reached when their dynamic nature is taken into account. As such, a primary objective of the present study is to describe and account for variability in temporal profiles of experienced emotional intensity. Participants were asked to make detailed drawings of intensity profiles of recently experienced episodes of anger, sadness, joy and affection. Functional data analysis revealed three features that together accounted for 84% of the total variability: (i) steepness at onset; (ii) skewness; and (iii) the number of peaks. Emotions differed with regard to the first two features, with the rise at onset being steeper for sadness and joy and affection being the most negatively skewed emotion under study. Individual differences regarding each of the three features were found, however, they did not strongly generalise across emotions.