Play on Words Design

By Barbara Nikoomanesh, October 18, 2006

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Six fifty-minute class periods


Students will brainstorm with the class, using creative thinking to design an image that is a "Play on Words," by combining two words. Example: Whole Milk (a milk carton with holes in it). They will create a detailed, shaded, well-proportioned, colored pencil rendering of the image they choose. Students will manipulate and perfect their drawing by scanning it and working in the Photoshop program. Students will also research and design lettering to fit with the "Play on Words" they design.

National Standards

Visual Arts
Standard 1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes  
Standard 6. Making connections between visual art and other disciplines

Common Core Standards

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


Students will:
  • use their creativity to design an image that combines two words to create an unusual visualization
  • improve their drawing skills by completing a detailed, colored pencil rendering of the "Play on Words" they design
  • use technology to improve their Photoshop skills by manipulating the colored pencil drawings and designing creative lettering for their "Play on Words"


  • computer
  • Photoshop
  • printer
  • scanner or digital camera
  • 12”x18” drawing paper
  • colored pencils
  • ink


Design, Realism, Visualization, Originality, Value, Illusion, Detail, Proportions, Lettering/Font, Perspective


  • Lead a discussion with your class about the combination of two words together that can create an unusual visualization. i.e.: I Pod (an eye embedded in a flower pod).
  • Brainstorm with the class, writing down all of the different ideas they come up with.
  • Each student should choose two of their favorite ideas to use in making rough sketches of their visualization.
  • They should discuss and critique their two sketches with the teacher, and then begin a final drawing on a 12"X18" piece of drawing paper of their favorite idea.
  • The students may use colored pencils, as well as ink in their final drawing.
  • Remind the students that their drawing should be detailed, well-proportioned, and shaded.
  • Once they are done with their drawings, they should scan their completed image to use with the Photoshop program.
  • Using Photoshop, the students should manipulate and perfect their scanned rendering.
  • With Photoshop, they should label their drawing with the combination of words they chose, using different letter types, fonts, and design that best fits their image.


Students will fill out a reflection sheet to evaluate whether or not they met the criteria set for the assignment. A class critique will be held, with students referring to their reflection sheet for direction.

Enrichment Extension Activities

After sparking creativity with this lesson, students can come up with humorous "Play on Words" relating to various subject areas they are studying. They could include words in a different language, from their foreign language class.

Teacher Reflection

Brainstorming seems to be the key for this activity since others’ ideas seem to spark the students' imagination.
Depending on the students’ drawing skills, students may need more instruction on proportions, perspective, and value contrast.

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