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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Visual language

In the fantastic book Gamestorming, by Gray, Brown, and Macanufo (O’Reilly Media, 2010), the authors write about visual language as a distinct skill unlike reading, writing, and arithmetic:

“Nearly every human endeavor, when examined, reveals the importance of visual language. In legal proceedings, visual aids help juries decide complex cases. Filmmakers create storyboards to help them bring screenplays to life. Medical illustration helps surgeons and other medical professionals learn their trade. The road signs we navigate by, the interfaces on our computer screens, and the logos that help us find the stores we like are all examples of visual language in action.”

The authors go on to outline a basic visual vocabulary of 12 shapes from which all other shapes can be made:

Flow shapes are linear and can be linked together in a sequence. They include dot, line, angle, arc, spiral, and loop.


Closed shapes feel more like solid objects. They include oval, eye, triangle, rectangle, house, and cloud.


Try drawing the following using the shapes above. Don’t worry too much about erasing!

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