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 used exclusively for communicating through images.
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
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: the property of an object depending on the way it reflects
light. Within the range of colors you can distinguish the cold (blue, purple and
green) and the hot line (yellow, orange and red).
Texture: it is the quality of a Surface. The texture differentiates
the real object from the "represented". Usually integrated into the overall
picture, texture provides an environmental sense.
3.What´s the meaning of an image?: Signifier & signified
Images have a signified and signifier.
The signifier is the vehicle of the signified, the appearance.
The signified is the content of the image, its meaning.
SIGNIFIER: Indian people
SIGNIFIED: poverty problem in
SIGNIFIER: Indian people
SIGNIFIED: clothing & rituals exoticism
5. Logo, icon, sign, signal & symbol
There are some kind of images that share a 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. Level of iconicity
The level of iconicity is 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 shows a high level of iconicity.
Figurative style let the viewer recognise the represented object but it’s not
faithful to reality. The level of iconicity is medium.
In Abstract art, reality is not represented. The level of iconicity is low.
7. 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-
Francis Bacon, Self-Portrait,
Shadows VI, 2008
Piet Mondrian, Painting nº 2, 1925
Number 8, 1949
8. Functions of Visual Language
Visual Language has different functions according to the information you want
to transmit (the message):
Representative: Images made by humans that represent reality.
Two kinds: the ones created by the author's imagination and the ones that
Informative: Images that show the basic elements to understand the main
information about the represented object.
Expressive: Its aim is to produce sensations, emotions.
Aesthetics: Wants to communicate beauty and harmony primarily.
A Visual Language funtions example: a watch