Thursday, July 3, 2008

Visual Communication

Visual Communication is the fourth component of a complete visual learning curriculum that also includes fine art, visual culture and design.

Life drawing used to be a major part of the training for fine artists but, since much contemporary art no longer involves representational or narrative imagery, designers who do illustration, comics, animation or fashion are among the few who attend to drawing the human figure on a regular basis.

Life drawing for visual communication may seem boring and lacking in challenge but it is an important part of visual learning just the way learning to read and write is an important grounding for all further language arts. And clear, accurate visual communication is more challenging than it seems.

As an example, give students a description involving a human figure in action and challenge them to draw the figure to perfectly capture the intent of the description. Some examples might be, how to do a perfect golf swing, baseball batting, backstroke in swimming, front-flip in diving or spinning back kick in karate. To a practiced eye (an Olympic diving judge, for example) there are nuances to these movements that the untrained eye has difficulty picking up. Looking at a drawing, they would see mistakes that we would not notice at first. Can you draw the figure in such a way that a knowledgeable person would say "Yes, that's the way it should look!"?

As a simple static example, have students draw a person at a computer demonstrating these ergonomic tips:

1. Use a good chair with a dynamic chair back and seat pan. Sit back and use it instead of leaning forward
2. Position the top of monitor casing 2-3" (5-8 cm) above eye level
3. Use a no glare screen, and an optical glass anti-glare filter where needed
4. Sit at arms length from the monitor
5. Place your feet on floor or stable footrest
6. Use a document holder, preferably in-line with the computer screen
7. Keep wrists flat and straight in relation to forearms to use keyboard/mouse/input device
8. Your arms and elbows should be relaxed and close to body
9. Center your monitor and keyboard in front of you so you are not turning to use them
10. Use a negative tilt keyboard tray with an upper mouse platform or downward tiltable platform adjacent to the keyboard for best wrist angle
11. Use a stable work surface and stable (no bounce) keyboard tray
12. Take frequent short breaks (microbreaks)

How could you clearly and accurately show these characteristics in a drawing for someone who can't read English?
Make a collection of descriptions of different activities to have a variety of visual communication challenges for students.

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