How to Make a Pictogram

By Contributor ; Updated September 15, 2017
Make a Pictogram

How to Make a Pictogram. A pictogram is a pictorial representation of a concept, object or process that takes the place of written words. Because pictograms are picture-based, they take up less space on signs and can be understood by people who speak different languages. Pictograms are used in everything from poetry to commerce, and their usage is getting wider. To make a pictogram follow these steps.

Identify your concept or object. The first step in making a pictogram is identifying what object or concept you are trying to represent. In addition, though, you need to assess why you are trying to represent it and to whom. For instance, a pictogram of a horse might mean "horse riding activity" to vacationers or it could mean "beware of horses crossing" to drivers.

Make drawings of your object or concept. In some cases, making a drawing of your object is very simple. In other cases, such as representing instructions or forbidden activities, it's much more complex. Either way, you need to be aware that there are infinitely many ways to represent your object. So, be mindful of what's most understandable as you begin to draw the object.

Reduce the drawing. Once you have a drawing of what you want to represent you need to reduce it to its essential parts. You'll notice that most pictograms use stick figures and outlines to represent things. This is on account of the fact that the less visual cues there are the lower the chances of confusing the audience from the essential meaning. So, go to your drawing and remove any features, details or characteristics that aren't essential to its communicative effectiveness.

Test your pictogram. You must test your pictogram on an audience to see if it's effective in transmitting the intended meaning. If you made a pictogram with an open meaning, then test it on an audience to see what they associate with the image. If the audience members understand the pictogram in an unintended way then either accept the new meaning of the image or go back to the drawing phase to alter it.

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