Visual Communication

Visual Communication Design Pedagogy

This is a description of a unit design for Visual Communication Design

This unit is aimed at teaching Visual Communication skills to students in years 9-10, whilst also exploring ideas of the body. This learning plan will follow a design thinking methodology and digital development method working in Adobe Illustrator. We will work from a brief, and start the project by exploring mind mapping techniques, as well as some other creative exercises.

Our goal is to develop a character that is produced in an industry standard method that might be used for a video game, or animation for commercial purposes. We will explore traditional methods of line, shape, texture, colour, sculpture and for those who want to continue on from there there will be an extension into animation, stop motion or 2D. We will explore contemporary approaches to design, illustration and image making of Visual Communication. There is also an art process at this link designed to meed the needs of the Visual Arts curriculum descriptors, but could also be used as a creative process to further develop the ideas of character and as a precursor to this learning plan.

After mind mapping, students will then collect reference material from sites like Pintrest and will start sketching out a character with emphasis on the physical representation of it. This stage should involve the pen on paper, quick sketches and where possible life drawing. It should also include instruction, demonstration and practice in structural drawing techniques.

To explore the ideas of representation of the body in visual communication, we will explore resources such as the 12 Animation laws. This will help us investigate how we communicate movement, emotion and character through the body in visual art. Many of these principles can be used in illustration or comic book representations.

Assessment will be via a final project using an annotated process journal, where students will observe how artists and illustrators have used different techniques to describe physical characteristics in their drawings, illustrations and animations. The final product is something like the image below, which is a collection of Fortnite game characters. In order to provide enough instructions to animators and technical staff, characters are designed and shown in a variety of positions usually front, back and on the side and holding the accoutrements they may use as part of who they are and what they do.

The inspiration from this approach is to use the products and practices of contemporary culture as a way to engage students to explore traditional archetypes and themes around the body. It also includes ideas about identity and culture. We will further explore tropes and uses of the archetypes when constructing a narrative in the animation phase. This assignment has several opportunities for extensions, to bring students together to present character artwork, animation and combined group projects.

The outcomes for this unit follow the descriptors of the Victorian Curriculum. At level 9 and 10 more marks are awarded for the completion of following the process via a well recorded artistic journal, digitally or on paper. By level 10 students are expected to follow the process and provide deeper insightful descriptions and analysis and a more considered outcome. Each week students with receive a balance of practical and theoretical activities that will help them develop the skills and overarching themes of their work. In responding to the making and presenting, this is practiced on a regular basis during the class providing constructive feedback to each other in a respectful manner. Other students further be encouraged to share work in class and discuss elements of what their work is communicating to others. Each student should be able to work at their own pace through the ideas of the projects, and to explore different areas of materials and experiment with different ideas to ensure they are following their own interests and developing their own approach to the development of the project. Using a formative and summative assignment structure, student will be supported through the development process to meet a planned timeline.

During the development process on a weekly basis the teacher will be formatively checking each student is meeting the required benchmarks, students will have that flexibility to move forward in the process if they want as this will extend their projects also.

Victorian Curriculum

The outcome for this unit are based on all the descriptors of the Victorian Curriculum for Visual Communication Design.

Throughout the teaching delivery time, this unit as well as the visual arts unit pedagogies are structured around social constructivism and High Impact Teaching Strategies as outlined by Hattie in his book Visible Learning. As well as this the environment and the time spent in it is the value to the students, the classroom is very open and cultivated to be a special place where students can do things and are encouraged to express themselves.

Student will develop and present their character demonstrating application of the methods, materials, media, design elements and design principles that meet the requirements of the brief where they will also identify their target audience. They will use an iterative design process to generate, develop and refine their projects and explore manual and digital drawing processes. Through the research process they will analyse an evaluate the factors that influence design decisions in a range of visual communications from different historical, social and cultural contexts. The annotated process journal will describe the process they have used, and will refer to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander visual communication products also. This will include

“What is most important is that teaching is visible to the student, and that the learning is visible to the teacher.” (Hattie, 2008 p26) During the delivery and using the idea of making the teaching strategies visible, students will set goals or use the preplanned ones about what stage they should be in each week – High Impact Teaching Strategy (or Hit) 1 (Education and Training, 2019). There will be some homework with this unit, but the majority of the work can be done in class time. Students will have that flexibility to move forward in the process, and there are extensions within the project to take their ideas further. On a weekly basis the teacher will deliver a structured class – Hit technique 2 and 3 (Education and Training, 2019). The beginning part of each class will review what stage we should be at – Hit technique 6 (Education and Training, 2019), deliver some new ideas, techniques or tasks to do, that scaffold the larger project and help to build the steps to successful completion. The teacher will formatively check in with each student on a weekly or bi weekly basis – Hit technique 7, 8, 9 and 10 (Education and Training, 2019) that they are meeting the required benchmarks in their projects, how the learning plan, techniques and process can be altered for their learning needs, and that they have understood where they should be at.


Anne Bamford, 2003, The visual literacy white paper, Art and design University of Technology Sydney, Adobe system pty ltd, Australia.

McLuhan Galaxy. 2019. Marshall McLuhan Still Has It Right (for Education) | McLuhan Galaxy. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

YouTube. 2019. Arts Participation and Students’ Academic Outcomes – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

Education and Training. 2019. High impact teaching strategies . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

ACMI. 2019. Exploring character: the boy | ACMI. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

Hattie, John. Visible Learning : A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, Routledge, 2008. ProQuest Ebook Central,
Created from swin on 2019-04-20 23:50:53. 2019. How to Create Great Game Characters? . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2019].

YouTube. 2019. 12 Principles of Animation (Official Full Series) – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

File:1ABC-character-design.png – Wikimedia Commons. 2019. File:1ABC-character-design.png – Wikimedia Commons. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 April 2019].

Learning designer, digital designer and educator with extensive experience teaching creative subjects. Qualifications include: MA Creative Media (Multimedia), Ba Arts (Fine Art), Cert IV Training and Assessment, Dip Training Design and Development, Dip Vocational Education and Training, currently studying an MA in Secondary Education.

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