DES2104 – Wk 3 Lecture

One of the reasons illustrations can be so useful in conveying meaning is because unlike photographs, they provide information without being too specific. By moving away from the more concrete images on the Realism Continuum (i.e. photos) concepts can be brought down to their most relevant components, without the distraction of background elements or irrelevant details.

In week 3 of Vector we looked at Isotypes “International System of TYpographic Picture Education“, which are a way of showing the connection between information through pictures. Some aspects of Isotypes to keep in mind when using them to depict information:

  • They’re used to visually educate;
  • Differences in amounts are generally represented by repeating the same symbol, rather than increasing its size;
  • Colours and shapes can be used to represent connection (with colour being the dominant connection);
  • For the sake of clarity, they’re rarely shown in a perspective view.

(Neurath, 2010; Medley, 2013)

Moving on from Isotypes we looked at a wide variety of pictograms and designs, which demonstrated ways to continue a theme across sets and how one can apply (and break) rules when creating styles and fonts. As far as preparation for Exercise 5 goes, it will be worth looking for inspiration from:

    • The work of Otto Neurath
    • The symbols and font of Kolh-Bonn Airport
    • The Noun
    • The 3/4 Perspective Silhoutte’s of the Yellow Pages
    • The Otl Aicher’s pictograms for the 1972 Munich Olympics
    • The pictograms form the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
    • The work of Shigeo Fukuda



Neurath, O. (2010). From hieroglyphics to Isotype: a visual autobiography. London, Hyphen Press.

Medley, S. (2013, March 16). Systems of Seeing/ Pictograms and ideograms. Lecture presented in Vector Illustration. Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

[Image 1] Crèches [Illustration]. (2010). Retrieved March 17, 2013 from

[Image 2] Victory 1945 [Illustration]. (1975). Retrieved March 18, 2013 from

[Image 3] Graphic Design Today [Illustration]. (1975). Retrieved March 18, 2013 from

[Image 4] Paperclip [Illustration]. (1975). Retrieved March 18, 2013 from

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