Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises

InDesign: Visual Metaphors


To communicate creative concepts through the use of visual metaphors. To incorporate copy to enhance and/or subvert the message.


As a creative, graphic designers are often called upon to create content. This exercise is less about visual composition than about creating messages through the integration of visuals and copy. In other words, this is a writing assignment, but instead of writing with only words, you will need to "write" with images.

Metaphors make relationships between two (or more) ideas. Visual metaphors connect two or more images. The connection can be obvious, or it can be poetic. The addition of copy can either enhance the message or add another dimension (e.g. with the use of irony).

In this exercise, we will remove almost all of the visual decisions a designer typically has to make in order to focus on the content. Therefore, the following restrictions apply:

  • Size: 8x10 inches (maximum)
  • Typography: Barbara Kruger style
  • Color: use white type in black boxes
  • Images: uncropped photographs of objects against a white background
  • Format: vertical
  • Border: thin

Note: Legal high resolution stock photos and illustrations are available from Photospin (contact your instructor for access). Students may NOT use illegally download images (see FAQ).


Suggested sequence

  1. download starter files
  2. examine PDF reference file
  3. examine JPEGs
  4. launch InDesign
  5. place images and add type
  6. download additional images as needed
  7. add additional pages as needed (tip: your first solution is probably not going to be your best solution)
  8. add your name to bottom of file as a "slug" (optional)
  9. print your best 3 solution(s) in b&w for critique
  10. submit color laser proofs with your name on bottom for grading
  11. file graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/1/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young