Lesson #3: Design symbols and pictographs


How do artists communicate quickly and visually?
Students will be able to:
Define symbol and pictograph and identify them in a poster
Create an illustrated dictionary
Design a symbol or pictograph with graphic impact that can be easily recognized.
Reflect on the success of their symbols/pictographs
Charley Harper, €¢ pencils, €¢ camera, €¢ various posters/signs with logos
  • design sketchbooks
  • Logo Book (EGo The Difference Between Telling & Selling).
  • Olympic Posters,
Display artwork and posters with symbols & pictographs. (Look at everyday symbols. i.e. aboriginal art, logos & pictographs:fire, graphics on bathrooms, peace, love, Olympic posters, Charley Harper.) Ask a volunteer to point to a symbol in one of the posters.
  • What is a symbol?
  • What is a pictograph?
  • How do symbolsand pictographs communicate quickly?
  • What details are missing from this image?
  • Are they necessary?
  • What are some other symbols you can find in these posters? Make a list on the board. (Nike swish.)
In order to simplify an image, most symbols appear as a 2D shape.
  • What is an example of a familiar 2D shape? (square, circle, etc.)
  • How is a shape different froma 3D form?
Let's see what happens if we try to make a symbol or a pictograph of a human form.
  • What simple shapes could we combine to create a human figure? (teacher demonstrates student suggestions to create a flat symbol of a human being.)
Show sketches from designers that have led to finished designs ( EGO The Difference Between Telling & Selling).
  • Why do you think graphic designers make sketches before creating their final image?
  • Where do you think designers get their ideas from? (imagination, life, photographic resources, etc.)
Create an illustrated dictionary of symbols for your chosen word in your sketchbook. Think about the type of image you can use for your subject. Identify important details from your word web illustrations and simplify the design into a symbol or pictograph. Show Charley Harper's work of simplified shapes as inspiration.
Ask students to display their work on a large table or at the front of the room. Discuss the work by asking students to select some images in which the theme is easily recognizable.
  • What has the student done to simplify the image?
  • Should the image be changed to make it more recognizable? If so, what would you suggest?
Visit a local graphic artist or view a video about a graphic designer (video on Paula Scher - AIGA website dsigner video series: http://hillmancurtis.com/hcweb/film_video.shtml_
  • What did you like about this designer's work? dislike?
  • Where can this artist's design work be seen?
  • How did the artist come up with his/her ideas?
  • How is their process similar to yours?
  • How is it different?