Semiotics – Icons, Symbols & Indexes

ogIcons – These are signifiers that have some sort of physical resemblance to the things that they signify. Photographs and illustrations both (mostly) fall into this category, as they both have a resemblance to the things that are in the photographs. Spoken words that are onomatopoeias, i.e words that sound the same as the natural world, “bang” “whoosh” etc.

At-symbol-4.sm_1.jpgSymbols – These are signs where the signifiers are learnt. They are cultural symbols that have no natural resemblance. Most spoken language falls into the category as they are cultural conventions, and we learnt them at some point in our lives to understand them in context.

whatisafossil2.jpgIndexes – Indexical signs are ones where the signifier can only exist because the physical presence of the signified. These may include smells, animal or music sounds, fingerprints and footprints. Almost all the clues in a detective story would all be indexical signs.

Mixing up the signs

confusion happens because some of these signs can fall into one or more category

For example, A “sign” on a toilet door that is the image of a stick man to show that this is the gentlemen’s washroom. The “sign” may be iconic because the man on the door has a physical resemblance to the signified, but is also a symbol because we have learn that this picture represents where men can use the loo.




Design Process – Illustrator

I wanted to use a scooter to signify the mod subculture. In order to do this, I initially traced the outline of the bike. The shape is quite iconic to the mod subculture, so it should be quite easy for the intended audience to pick up the intended messages.

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I made a composite of different elements on different layers in order to get a detailed illustration. Th

I manipulated colours in order to get the right tone. Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 09.31.09.png

I also used gradients in order to give the design more depth, as I aim to show shadow and light reflection. I found without using gradients, the illustration looks flat and blocky, and very amateurish.

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To create the illusion of reflection, I used a white to red gradient, giving an indication of the light source. This helped me get more depth and meant I could get the desired shape.

To add texture to the illustration, I used a series of polygons to make the grip marks. This was relatively easy to do.

After having the initial wheel shape in a block colour, I added polygons in rows over the top

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I then selected both the polygons and the wheel shape, and in the pathfinder window I selected divide. This meant that everything outside the wheel shape could be deleted as the path has been divided.


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This is the final outcome after colouring and readjusting:

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Design Process – Page layout Indesign

In order to have structure to work with, I measured key dimensions of the margins in which the content sits in. This is important as the brief says to design in the style of creative review. After measuring the front cover, it was clear there was a 7mm gap all the way around apart from the bottom, which had a 9mm gap.

I also measured the size of the whole document  in order to get the right dimensions when initially setting up the document.


After getting the correct dimensions, I implemented this into indesign, where I was able to change the height and width of the document, and change the margins to what I had already measured.

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Mary Quant Logo – Illustrator

I wanted to have a go at recreating the iconic Mary Quant logo in Illustrator from scratch.

I first of all created a 5 sided polygon onto the canvas.

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Then in the effects window I selected pucker and bloat, to get the desired daisy shape.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 11.03.53I flattened the transparency, making the daisy into anchor points instead of a shape.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 11.04.17After colouring the shape black, I simply found the middle of the daisy and with alt + shift I was able to add the circle in the center.

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Illustration Styles

As the brief says to produce an illustration on the front cover of Creative Review, I decided to take a look at different styles of illustration. I found this useful to draw inspiration from as i’m not the most confident artist.

Line Art

I first looked at line art. Although very effective, they were all sketched and incredibly detailed, and I don’t think I have the ability to recreate.

Below shows a very rough but effective illustration of two smartly dressed people, maybe off to an awards ceremony. The sketch is very simply, with just outlines and rough lines. The eye is drawn to the center of the illustration, where the only used image can be found. This adds contrast in colour and texture to the design.

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Another artistic illustration I looked at can be seen below. The exaggerated contrast between thick and thin silhouettes. The use of thin lines to make a composite of different characters is effective and gives it a comic feel to it.  Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 15.41.54

Below shows a been that has been sketched. The small directional lines give the wasp texture and weight, as if it could be physically touched. Although the final result is very eye catching and aesthetically pleasing, I think for my project this would be a bit difficult to replicate.Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 15.42.14

Pop Art

I really like the contrast in colours in the illustration. The artist has used a simple silhouette, and used contrasting and abnormal colours, making it interesting to the audience and it goes against what the audience perceives.

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Similar to the first illustration, this design shows a male with patterns all over the piece. The contrast in colours used on the males face and top in relation to the dark red used on for the skin and the background. The brush strokes also add texture and depth to the illustration.

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I really like this design. It combines sections of block colour and white to create a strong contrast. The background is also yellow, contrasting well with the blue. around the males waist are silhouettes that are clipped to the back ground, creating a focal point for the audiences eye to be drawn to.

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I really like this style of illustration. Its commonly used in the initial stages of design for films and

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Baseline Grids

To be able to increase the visual impact of my design for the magazine double page spread, I looked at how I could use the baseline grid effectively to layout the copy and increase readability.

Adjusting to a baseline grid makes it easier for the reader to read as it follows along a natural line.

The screenshots below show the process of creating a baseline grid and how I can use it effectively. This is a good technique to use when designing my double page spread, as I want to visually communicate my messages correctly and the type should look correct.

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Semiotics -Paradigms & Sytagms


The description of an object that signifies the meaning.


The choice of individual syntagms depends on what the communicator wants to say. The syntagm is chosen from a group of possible options. The group that they fall into is called a paradigm.

We looked at some advertising from Marlborough, a cigarettes company promoting there products. We first looked at the syntagms, picking out individual items or things about the visual that portrayed the desired feelings and thoughts to the audience.

From the image, I picked out three syntagms:

  • Cowboy style hat
  • Denim Jacket
  • Smoke

I then looked at what paradigms each item falls under:

  • Cowboy hat – Hats/Head-wear
  • Denim Shirt – Shirts/Clothing
  • Smoke – Guilty pleasures

I then looked at how the message of the overall image would change if the sytagms were changed. So for example, the smoke shown in the advert looked quite clean, so if the smoke was changed from white to a darker colour, the connotations would change, and would show a more harmful and unclean product.

If for example I changed the denim shirt to a wife beater, and instead of a hat he wore a balaclava, the whole message of the image would change, and the perception of the advert would be a negative portrayal of the product.