Creating Pictogram Characters for E-Learning Courses #384

Using Pictographs in E-Learning #384: Challenge | Recap

Whether designing characters for e-learning courses or creating graphics for a PowerPoint presentation, pictograms can be a helpful tool in your design arsenal. They can help add visual interest and break up text-heavy content when used correctly.

Why is this approach so popular? It’s simple and doesn’t require graphic design skills. And once you see how the basic shapes come together, you’ll never look at pictograms the same.

To get an idea of the types and styles of characters, check out the pictogram challenge and submissions we hosted eight years ago.

Think LEGO® to Build Pictogram Characters

If you’ve ever played with Legos, you know how basic shapes are combined to create anything imaginable. Building pictograms is a lot like working with bricks in digital format.

Let’s look at the 3-step process for assembling a generic pictogram character:

Easy, right? The biggest challenge for most users is knowing which shapes to use. That’s where it helps to see like an artist.

How to See Like an Artist

You’ve probably heard that artists see differently. This means they see past the final object and see the lines and shapes that make up the final object. This is a skill anyone can learn.

One way you can learn to see pictograms differently is to pull apart finished objects. You do that by using PowerPoint’s Ungroup feature. Let’s look at another one of the free pictograms Mike shared.

Select one of the characters and ungroup it like you would regular clip art. Once it’s ungrouped, apply an outline using a contrasting color.

The outlines reveal the shapes and present a clear view of how the shapes work together. The outline is also a way to add perspective to your characters.

Accessorize Your Characters

Character outfits and uniforms are essential to customizing the characters. You don’t need an extensive wardrobe for your characters. You just need one or two signature pieces that identify your character’s occupation and industry.

Challenge of the week

This week your challenge is to create your own pictogram characters for a specific industry or learning topic.

The emphasis in this challenge is to customize the characters to align with a specific industry or topic.


Here are some resources to help get you started with creating pictogram graphics.

PowerPoint graphics

Blog posts and articles

New to the E-Learning Challenges?

The weekly e-learning challenges are ongoing opportunities to learn, share, and build your e-learning portfolios. You can jump into any or all of the previous challenges anytime you want. I’ll update the recap posts to include your demos.

Learn more about the challenges in this Q&A post and why and how to participate in this helpful article

Jodi M. Sansone

Meet Your Agency Team Demo: Download: For this demo I drew upon my time working with an advertising agency. One of my fondest worklife experiences was collaborating with a creative team at Young & Rubicam in New York (now part of VMLYR ( ). I created pictograms/avatars of an agency team using a character creator set from GraphicMama, filler copy from Hipster Ipsum, a layout used in a demo by Montse for image sliders, and a link to the 20 Best Meet the Team Pages ever. You maneuver around the slide using a custom button set I created of the characters. In a field without uniforms, the hairstyles, casual clothing and glasses ... Expand

Yvonne Urra-Bazain
Jonathan Hill
Jodi M. Sansone
Andreas Fischer
Jonathan Hill
Kaylene Wance
Matt Gastineau
Nicole Wagner
Daniel Turner-Gallastegui
Ryan Jones
Trevor Newsome