A Comic book story
Visual Language I
Teacher: Sara del Río
1.What is Visual Language?
- Human beings use communication to relate something. We use it to exchange
Visual language is the communication system used exclusively for communicating
The main advantage of Visual Language is that it can be interpreted by most people
still if they have different cultures and languages.
2. Elements of Visual Language
Transmitter: who creates the message.
Message: the information the transmitter wants to
Channel: medium used by the transmitter to send the message
(Paper, canvas, etc…).
Code: group of rules and knowledge used to generate the
message (Visual Code, Principles of Composition, Light, Colour,
Shape and Volume).
Receiver: who interprets the message.
2.1 Elements of an Image
As any language has basic elements (signs or images) and a way of ordering (syntax)
Visual images in its most basic form consist of:
Shape: Defines the look. It can be a regular (square, triangle,
rectangle, polygonal, circle, symmetric) or an irregular shape (asymmetric, not
Color: Essential in visual communication. Within the range of
colors you can distinguish the cold (blue, purple and green) and the hot line
(yellow, orange and red).
Texture: They are represented on the surface, the texture
differentiates the real object of the "represented". Usually integrated into the
overall picture, providing an environmental sense.
3.What´s the meaning of an image?: Signifier & signified
Images have a signifier and a signified.
The signifier is the object/image itself, its appearance.
The signified is the content of the image, its meaning.
SIGNIFIER: Indian people
travelling by train.
SIGNIFIED: poverty problem in
SIGNIFIER: Indian people throwing
petals to the fire.
SIGNIFIED: clothing & rituals exoticism
5. Logo, icon, sign, signal & symbol
There are some kind of images that share an special
code easily understable by people around the world:
-A logo is a graphic element used to represent a person,
product or company.
-An icon is a visual graphic sign: the image of a
-Signs and pictograms are images which
represents an object or idea reducing it to its
simpler form, but containing all of its meaning.
-Signal: a particular kind of sign with an
abstract content that is contained by a
geometrical form (triangle, square, circle)
-Symbol: is a sign which shows no relation
between signified and signifier that usually
represents some abstract concept, such as
6. Functions of Visual Language
Visual Language has 4 different functions according to the message an image
wants to transmit:
Informative: Images that show the basic elements to understand the main
information about the represented object. Instructions sheets for objects/
machines are usually informative.
Aesthetics: Images that wants to communicate beauty and harmony primarily.
Design products are usually aesthetics.
Expressive: Images whose aim is to evoke a particular sensation or emotion in
the viewer (happiness, sadness, joy, melancholy, fear…). Paintings and
sculptures are usually expressive.
Exhortative: Images that try to persuade the receiver to consume a product,
service or an idea. Advertising images are usually exhortative.
A Visual Language funtions example: a watch
7. Level of iconicity
The level of iconicity its the level of similarity of an image with reality.
The level of iconicity of a color photograph is high because it accurately
represents reality, but when we speak of cinema the level of iconicity is
even higher because sound and movement are also represented.
Hyper-realistic style in painting have a high level of iconicity.
Figurative style let the viewer recognise the represented but it’s not faithful
to reality, so the level of iconicity is medium.
In Abstract art, reality is not represented so the level of iconicity is low.
8. Realistic, figurative & abstract images
An image can have different interpretations depending on the
characteristics of the transmitter and the receiver:
-The transmitter determines the meaning of an image than a receiver
complete when he receive it. There are three ways of expression:
Realistic, these are images similar to reality, like Photography or
drawings of high precision.
Figurative, these represent reality-based forms but with a free
Abstract, it doesn’t represent images based on reality. They are
new forms created to represent a particular world.
Realistic & Hiper Realistic
Antonio López, Gran Vía, 1974-