Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pictograms, Icons and Signs

The book Pictograms, Icons and Signs by Rayan Abdullah and Roger Hubner provides a detailed, entertaining and educational look at the use of simple visual symbols. They begin by briefly introducing Semiotics, the study of symbols for communication, and describing the differecnes between pictograms (symbols representing a concept) and icons (pictograms on computer screens) and other signs and sign languages. However, most people can skip this part, which takes up only the first 27 pages of the book and get on to how to build pictograms and then get on to the examples from the last hundred years.

The bulk of the book consists of carefully rendered pictograms, starting with international traffic signs, first standardised in 1909.

Then the role of pictograms in the modern Olympic games is covered. I know a little of this having proposed that the Olympic pictograms as icons for Olympic web sites. However, I had not realised that the use of sport signs is as old as the 1936 Olympics. Apart from the Olympics, the early adopters of pictograms were transport and the book goes on to cover those for airports and railways.

One trend I noticed was back to pictograms with softer edges. The early signs, such as those for the 1936 Olympics used shades of grey. Later pictograms, and most in current use, use only two colours and no shading. However, systems such as that used for
domaine national de Chambord by Ruedi Baur use a blurry outline similar to anti-aliasing text.
A copiously illustrated and practical guide to informational graphics.

Pictograms and icons are a keystone of nonverbal and multicultural communication. But what precisely are pictograms, and when is it appropriate to use them? What are their advantages? What rules must be followed, and what are the pitfalls that designers of pictograms and icons must take care to avoid?

Drawing on a multitude of examples from around the world, the authors outline the history of the pictogram and show how it has been used in commercial and creative fields over the past century, as well as offering invaluable hints and advice to designers.

The book features:

• over 2,000 illustrations organized by theme, including pictograms from all the Olympic Games from 1964 to 2004;
• tips from successful pictogram designers, with real-life examples to instruct and inspire;
• a detailed discussion of icons, the "silent servants" of online communities;
• a chapter by designer Jochen Gros on his quest to create a visual language that crosses all grammatical, semantic, and semiotic boundaries—in effect, to create a "language without words." 2000+ illustrations.

About the Author
Rayan Abdullah teaches design and typography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Roger Hübner does consulting and design for and teaches graphic design in Berlin.
Product Details

* Paperback: 244 pages
* Publisher: Thames & Hudson (November 13, 2006)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 0500286353

From: Amazon page for: Pictograms, Icons and Signs

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