Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Senior Secondary navigation


Section menu


Curriculum strands

Specialist strands

AOs/LOs by level

Technological practice (TP)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Technological knowledge (TK)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Nature of technology (NT)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2

8-1 | 8-2

Design in technology (DET)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2


Manufacturing (MFG)

6-1 | 6-2

7-1 | 7-2


Technical areas (TCA)


Construction and mechanical technologies (CMT)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3 | 6-4

6-5 | 6-6 | 6-7

7-1 |  7-2 |  7-3 |  7-4

7-5 |  7-6 |  7-7

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3 | 8-4

8-5 | 8-6 | 8-7

Design and visual communication (DVC)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3

Digital technologies (DTG)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3 | 6-4

6-5 | 6-6 | 6-7 | 6-8

6-9 | 6-10 | 6-11 | 6-12

7-1 |  7-2 |  7-3 |  7-4

7-5 |  7-6 |  7-7 |  7-8

7-9 |  7-10 |  7-11 |  7-12

8-1 | 8-2 | 8-3 | 8-4

8-5 |  8-6/7 | 8-8 | 8-9

8-10 |  8-11 | 8-12

Processing technologies (PRT)

6-1 | 6-2 | 6-3

7-1 | 7-2 | 7-3

8-1/2 | 8-3

Visual communication DVC 7-1

Achievement standards 2.30, 2.31, 2.32 and 2.36, AS91337, 91338, 91339, 91343

Visual communication refers to the effective communication and presentation of design ideas using modelling and graphic design techniques. Visual communication underpins a student’s ability to undertake graphics practice.

Learning objective: DVC 7-1

Students will:

  • demonstrate understanding of and skills in advanced visual communication techniques to visually communicate and present detailed visual information.


Students can:

  • communicate their design ideas using techniques that explore both identifiable aesthetic and functional details of a design; apply techniques such as sketching, modelling, rendering, collage, overlays and digital media
  • produce a set of instrumental or computer related 2D working drawings showing technical details that indicate shape and form – these working drawings show the important design features of the item being communicated, such as parts and how they assemble, sizes, or details of hidden parts (sections)
  • use appropriate engineering and architectural conventions correctly
  • produce perspective instrumental projection drawings (parallel and/or angular) that communicate design features and the associated details (such as spatial drawings: window framing, door handles; and engineering: webs, holes, fasteners)
  • apply instrumental projection conventions: picture plane, station point, eye level lines, ground level lines, vanishing points, height lines
  • select a view point that enables the design features of an item to be shown
  • select graphics modes and media, and apply compositional principles (for example, proximity, negative and positive space, alignment, hierarchy) that best present the design features of an item being communicated
  • appropriately present visual information that includes consideration of the design context (for example, spatial design, product, landscape) and presentation context (for example, location, and audience). 


At level 7, students have progressed from:

  • understanding and applying the use of drawing and rendering techniques to describe shape (2D) and form (3D) of design ideas to understanding and applying the use of drawing and rendering techniques for generating divergent design possibilities and communicating design details 
  • understanding and applying the principles of orthographic and/or paraline projection to understanding and applying the principles of angular and/or parallel perspective projection
  • understanding and applying the conventions associated with multi-view orthographic drawing to understanding and applying the conventions associated with working drawings that explain technical information
  • understanding and applying composition principles of alignment (grids, angles, radial) to understanding and applying visual presentation principles for promoting design features (visual narrative, compositional principles, media techniques).

Teacher guidance

To support students to demonstrate understanding of, and skills in, advanced visual communication techniques to visually communicate and present detailed visual information at level 7, teachers could support students to: 

  • develop an appreciation of aesthetic and functional qualities in a design, and techniques for effectively visually communicating these qualities  
  • develop visual communication techniques such as sketching, rendering, modelling, and using digital media (photography, digital modelling, animation)
  • develop advanced 2D freehand and instrumental drawing techniques (for example, auxiliary views, sectional views, and assembly) to communicate design features  
  • understand how multiple drawings communicate details of shape and form  
  • develop advanced 3D freehand and instrumental drawing techniques (for example, one- and two-point perspective projection and isometric projection)
  • understand how media, drawing equipment, and layout are "key" for effectively presenting visual information
  • develop skills in using modes and media to highlight design ideas
  • develop skills associated with applying compositional principles such as proximity, alignment, hierarchy, positive and negative space when presenting design ideas.

Contexts for teaching and learning

  • Develop divergent design thinking that is concerned with developing creativity and innovation. At level 7, students are being asked to generate divergent design possibilities.
    • Divergent refers to: Creating choices – it requires quantity over quality at the initial stages; divergent ideas should be spontaneous, explorative, inventive, imaginative, experimental, optimistic, seeking out the unusual and deferring judgment.
  • Students will need to be taught a range of techniques that develop divergent thinking skills, and shown examples of divergent ideas (different ways similar problems have been resolved, such as a range of chairs by 50 designers etc).
  • Possible techniques that develop divergent thinking skills:
    • Open students minds up to remove all assumptions – try tasks like: Giving students a small pair of scissors, get them to position them in different ways, sketch around them and turn them into something else entirely – focus on quantity of ideas, or use bottle tops, or anything small.
    • Get students to take photographs of interesting "details" in the nature or architecture around them to use as inspiration for starting points.
    • Encourage quantity of ideas with tasks like – 30 ideas in 30 minutes.
    • Get students to make random connections between unrelated ideas.
    • Provide a mystery item and get students to find ways to connect it to their ideas.
    • Look at how things can "morph" from one thing to another.
    • Use different "lenses" in a series of lessons to consider ideas in different ways such as: sustainability lens, dual purpose lens, not for human use, for developing nations. on the move.
    • Use question starters such as" "Wouldn’t it be great if….", "What might…..", "Imagine if……", "Why can’t it….".
    • Brainstorming visually – no words.
    • Mix and match parts of ideas.
    • Give students a multiple range of starting points by recognising areas/considerations that are both within and beyond the brief context; for example, precedent examples, symbolism and pattern-making, factors that could be cultural, physical (site, locale), social, or historical that can inspire ideas.
    • Introduce students to bio-morphism as a strategy to generate ideas that are different and challenge our normal expectations. There are lots of examples of bio-morphic architecture and this can be applied to product and spatial. It introduces students to a new way of thinking and generates ideas to extend them on from level 6.
    • Use different visual communication modes to represent the similar idea – changing between drawing, models/mock-ups, collage, animation.
    • Use of visual language strategies to reinterpret and extrapolate new ideas.
    • Visual communication activities that take students away from convention and complacency; for example, blind drawing, left hand drawing, collaborative drawing.
    • Help students to concentrate on creating a range of design ideas and possibilities that are different and discourage students from pre-determining the final outcome.
    • Support students to extend on their initial ideas and explore a range of them further to encourage diversity in their ideas and discourage students from pre-determining the final outcome.
    • Arrange local visits (museum, beach, bush) or collect unusual objects or natural objects so students can observe and sketch to gain a starting point, or let them interpret music or a film clip that will grab their interest.
  • Teach students how to draw from observation. Use grids, Betty Edwards clear frame, or any method that supports students in visually interrogating.
  • Teach observation drawing techniques to develop the parts of the brain that help students to see better – by developing students drawing ability their self-confidence is built.
  • Investigate images from nature and demonstrate how to extrapolate shapes that then can be explored further by twisting, repeating, and elongating.
  • Develop literacy understanding and teach and model how to do: abstraction, re-combination, tessellation, exaggeration, rotation, inversion, translation, translocation, deconstruction from a given starting experience. Discuss these terms by using visual examples.
  • Encourage students to celebrate all design generation from scribbles to polished detailed designs.
  • Show students a range of product and/or spatial sketches/drawings/models and get them to identify what aesthetic and functional features are being shown in each one visually.
  • Use the internet to explore how other designers have explored, developed, and used different techniques to solve a design problem.
  • Provide a list of designers to investigate and draw upon their visual literacy.
  • Show students a range of one product type and get them to identify how the aesthetic and functional attributes have been interpreted/handled differently to develop their understanding of how designers think differently.
  • Show students how other designers have shown identifiable design qualities and the functional and aesthetic details.
  • Create an environment that allows for all kinds of visual expression. Encourage students to take risks with their ideas; celebrate failure as another means to be clear about direction, and support individual expression (design thinking relies on an interplay between analysis and synthesis, breaking problems apart and putting ideas together, that is, developing a culture of divergence that leads to coherence).
  • Encourage students to tell a story though visual communication techniques.
  • Allow students time to experiment with different techniques (such as, sketching, rendering, modelling, and using digital media) so they can use them effectively and with confidence when generating design ideas.
  • Provide creative strategies, support and encouragement when ideas are blocked by introducing a new strategy.
  • Encourage autonomy and ownership.
  • Help students to appreciate how they design by supporting metacognition processes (thinking, studying, and learning from memory – analysing images and making associations between or comparing/contrasting different pieces of information and making inferences or interpreting).
  • Model and teach using SCAMPER as a tool to develop divergent thinking:
    • Substitute: What are the alternatives?
    • Combine: How can you combine seemingly disparate ideas?
    • Adapt: How can you adapt something you’re already doing/using for a project?
    • Modify: What materials, processes, and methods can you modify to solve a problem?
    • Put to other use: Can you put an aspect to another use?
    • Eliminate: What can be eliminated?
    • Rearrange: How can you move around ideas to solve a problem?
  • Develop a culture of divergence that leads to coherence. Design thinking relies on an interplay between analysis and synthesis, breaking problems apart and putting ideas together. Once the students have generated a range of divergent design possibilities there is a stage of analysis and critical thinking. At this stage, students need to reflect on their range of possibilities and sift them to narrow them down. To do this they need to be taught techniques to support this, such as:
    • deciding what criteria to use to sift out ideas
    • how to analyse ideas
    • how to systematically narrow down their possible ideas to identify ones that they feel have the potential to explore further.
  • Support students to explore their sifted ideas further, as they do this they will need to learn how to use convergent thinking. Convergent thinking involves clarifying, selecting, focusing in, organising, making sense of ideas, categorising ideas, making decisions, and making choices.

To support students in their work:

  • Demonstrate and encourage students to explore a variety of visual communication strategies. One idea could be to get students to gather examples of different visual communication techniques and build their own reference source/scrapbook, which can be referred to when deciding what type of technique would be best to communicate ideas during the different stages of design thinking.
  • Develop creativity and confidence in your students so they are encouraged to extend their ideas beyond the norm in a dynamic and effective manner.
  • Show students how other designers have developed ideas from an starting experience, have examples displayed, and get students to critique them in a group situation.
  • Encourage students to communicate their interrogation of ideas without annotation to ensure they visually explore all possibilities, aesthetically and functionally using both 2D and 3D techniques. Without annotation there still needs to be a way to "read" the design story, so the order of ideas and development needs to be clear – often arrows can be used to lead the reader through, or how ideas are positioned helps understand the flow of thought.

Encourage students to:

  • work from a starting experience; such as: listening to music, a visit to the zoo, beach, city, local bush, art gallery, poetry, observational drawings of birds or motor engines
  • develop ideas from a variety of given or found starting points: interpretive drawings from life, inspirational research, cultural aspects and heritage, existing products or spatial design
  • engage in a personal design journey that transforms these initial starting observations/sketches/photographs/sketch models into a new way of looking and thinking to create new design ideas
  • re-interpret ideas that shows a depth of thinking and reflection in the formation of ideas
  • challenge their design thinking and extend ideas beyond the norm – encourage students to be creative and think outside the box to develop ideas that are highly divergent and challenge established conventions/practices and perceptions
  • use visual communication strategies to support their exploration of ideas through physical and visual manipulations
  • visually communicate their design ideas from the scribbling, thumbnail and explorative stages to the detail, technical and presentation stages by applying 2D and 3D techniques
  • develop high quality visual techniques and knowledge that will communicate a story to the viewer that conveys the intent of the design
  • choose different viewpoints to optimise shape information, as the choice of the viewpoint has a big impact on how a drawing communicates the designer's intent
  • start sketching basic shapes then continue to more advanced forms
  • practice using media to quickly express design intent
  • record their visual journey using more than one visual strategy: 2D, 3D and 4D modes (such as, freehand sketching, drawing, modelling, animation)
  • see that ideas can become new starting points that can re-generate, re-combine, overlay, re-mix, re-invent and generate new ideas 
  • see that development is essentially a resolving process after an idea has been proposed.

Demonstrate understanding of and skills in visual communication techniques for presenting detailed visual information

  • Explore in detail the ideas they are generating through different design features, a recombination of designs, assembly, component parts, sequences of operation and views and hidden details.
  • Give hierarchy to the elements they want to take forward/select for further exploration.
  • Use overlays of tracing paper to extend ideas further.
  • Work on top of photocopies/photographs of initial ideas/models to explore them further.
  • Show initial rapid sketches through to detailed sketches as portfolio progresses.
  • Use a range of communication techniques: 2D / 3D sketches, sections, orthographic views, enlarged details, exploded sketches.
  • Students need to use rendering techniques to communicate form, texture, solidity, shadow, highlights, reflections.
  • Students can use graphical symbols such as arrows to communicate order of thinking, movement of components.
  • Students can define stages of design thinking by using techniques to unify them/group them.
  • Sketch using a range of angles to communicate the "whole" idea.
  • Bring in some contextual elements to help communicate function and human interaction.
  • Teach students compositional principles associated with the promotion aspect of visual presentations such as: visual narrative, balance, contrast, counterpoint, pattern.
  • Develop an awareness of the key principles associated with the application of typography.
  • Students understand the use of hierarchy to amplify and highlight key features that promote the best parts of their ideas.
  • Use refined media techniques (still image and/or moving image) for visual impact.

To support students to develop the visual communication skills and knowledge at level 7 when producing instrumental working drawings, teachers could:

  • Teach skills as individual activities where students are required to interpret design details from a design idea, or allow students to develop these working drawings from an integrated unit from either product or spatial design.
  • Demonstrate to students why working drawings are useful for the communication of technical information to a contractor or manufacturer, especially when a design has been developed to a stage whereby it is almost ready to manufacture or build, and therefore needs to show details that allow the design to be made by others. More than just the drawing of pictures, it is also a graphical language that communicates ideas and information from one mind to another. Teachers could get students to understand the purpose of a "set" of related drawings to communicate more information, and the use of scale to be able to enlarge small details.
  • Support them to decide on what views and production details they can use from their own designs.
  • Ensure contexts where student’s designs are required to have multi-components.
  • Show students a variety of professional working drawings that allow a design to be constructed/modelled: architectural plans, engineering plans, animations, traditional and computer generated, 2D, 3D. This will allow them to select a set of drawings to suit their designs including 3rd angle orthographic and sectional views of whole and/or parts of their design – components, assembly, sectional view, auxiliary view, true shape, surface development, and construction details.
  • When teaching students about working drawings, discuss and plan ahead if students are wanting to using them for external assessments, so students are aware of what types of drawing can be submitted and enable them to use their time efficiently.
  • Show and demonstrate a set of related drawings can be of different scales, different views, 2D, 3D, animations, that all communicate one design outcome.
  • Show and allow students to use both 2D and 3D modes to communicate their design outcome.
  • Show students the complexity of information required at this level. It is important there is enough suitable level of detailing so that the depth of technical information is not superficial.
  • Demonstrate and support students to understand how multiple drawings communicate details of shape and form through hidden details, cross sections, auxiliary views.
  • Show how to draw a multi-view drawing through using technical instruments and computer applications.
  • Show students work from professionals and investigate how they are communicating their design thinking.

    Recognised conventions

  • Teach students the recognised conventions: line types, construction lines, outlines, section lines, drawing and text layout, dimensioning, plus the conventions used by engineers and architects.
  • Demonstrate how to set out working drawings and the skills and knowledge required through a teacher given class exercise; however, students need to create their own multi-view drawing from their own design ideas for assessment.
  • Explain (and/or provide a reference sheet showing) the conventions required for these working drawings such as: projection lines, line thickness, dimensioning (using the correct unit of measuring for the field of design being communicated), arrow heads, title blocks, labelling, the third angle orthographic symbol, hidden detail, sectioning symbol.
  • Explain scale drawings enable dimensions to be "read" off the drawing. That there are reduction ratios 1:2, 1:5, 1: 10, 1:20, 1;50, 1:100, and enlarged ratios 2:1, 5:1.
  • Explain that a set of related drawings can be on different pages with different scales.
  • Invest in computer software that allows students to create professional drawings that meet the NZ standards for technical drawings – dimensioning/arrows heads.
  • Purchase high GSM paper, good pencils, mechanical pencils, one with 2H leads for construction lines/one with HB leads for outlines, and clean instrumental equipment.

Encourage students to:

  • develop two dimensional modes instrumentally constructed/modelled using either traditional drafting equipment or computer applications 
  • select drawings that show complex visual information: complex in form or are communicated in detail to show internal information of construction or multiple parts
  • decide if the design is not complex enough then develop scaled cross sections or enlarged details of construction joints to add complexity, and also to make a complete set of inter-related drawings
  • use digital animations to support the related drawings 
  • create related drawings to show information that shows some aspect of its construction and assembly of a multi-component design
  • select the views and modes (traditional methods or computer applications) that suits the accepted practice and conventions for the design context
  • communicate the design details of either a spatial or product design to a level that will allow a significant aspect of the design to be manufactured or constructed
  • show exterior and interior details that would allow production of key aspects of the details of the design outcome
  • communicate technical details with spatial designs, with a plan, and elevations, add a cross section that shows more detail 
  • use the recognised conventions for established practice relevant to specific design fields (for example, engineering, landscaping, architecture, textiles)
  • select the correct pencil and hand pressure to create different line widths and clean instrumental equipment to produce a set of related drawings
  • apply drawing techniques with accuracy and precision
  • produce a set of complex instrumental or computer related 2D working drawings showing technical details that indicate shape and form – these working drawings show the important design features of the item being communicated, for example, parts and how they assemble, sizes or details of hidden parts (sections).

To support students to develop the visual communication skills and knowledge at level 7 when producing instrumental perspective projection drawings to communicate design ideas, teachers could:

  • Support students to understand that there are two kinds of perspective: PARALLEL and ANGULAR.
  • In parallel perspective, the sides of all block-line objects turned toward you are parallel to your two eyes, just as is the face of a mirror when you look into it and see yourself. Consequently, there is only one vanishing point, which is on the horizon directly in front of you, between your two eyes.
  • In angular perspective, the object is at an angle with your eyes and all parallel lines on the right side vanish to the vanishing point right (V.P.R.), while all parallel lines on the left side vanish to the vanishing point left (V.P.L.).
  • Support students to develop the skills to select the best viewpoints that will enable the viewer to see the design features to their advantage. The two drawings above show different views of the same house design. For example, teach students how they can do this by altering the position of the spectator point, ground line.
  • Instruct students how to create circles in perspective, a curved surface is accepted as an aspect of advanced skills for this level.
  • Support students to develop advanced instrumental perspective projection drawings that communicate their design ideas.
  • Support students to understand how the use of media, drawing equipment and layout are "key" for effectively presenting visual information.                                             

Encourage students to:

  • produce perspective instrumental projection drawings (parallel and/or angular) that communicate design features of their own responses to a design brief and show the associated details (for spatial drawings: window framing, door handles; and for engineering: webs, holes, fasteners)
  • apply instrumental projection conventions: picture plane, station point, eye level lines, ground level lines, vanishing points, height lines accurately and with care 
  • ensure height lines are used correctly to project around the object correctly to plot the required points.

Literacy considerations

Support students to understand the language associated with the assessment as well as the specialist language related to visual communication:

  • Visual literacy refers to the visual modes (for example, drawing, model-making, digital modelling) used as tools for aiding design thinking.
  • Design language is needed to help students communicate their design thinking. Students need to understand and be able to: analyse, critique, evaluate, reason, justify, explain.
  • Aesthetic qualities refer to such things as the way an object looks, its appearance, style.
  • Qualities of an object such as: colour, tone, texture, pattern, shape, balance or surface finishes.
  • Functional qualities refers to the qualities of how a product or spatial design works; for example, operation, movement and ergonomic interface, construction, material and assembly size, scale, and proportion.
  • Visual communication techniques refers to sketching, rendering, modelling/model making; for example, mock-ups and 3D constructions, collage and overlays, digital media such as CAD, image manipulation and animation, all techniques used to express and communicate design ideas.
  • Compositional principles refers to proximity, alignment, hierarchy and the use of positive/negative space when designing a presentation.
  • Modes refers to the way in which something is expressed, or done using a certain communication method, such as digital applications, photography, image manipulation, animation, models and the range of conventional drawing and sketching methods.
  • Media refers to the type of communication product used, such as: pastels, airbrush, colour pencils, collage, marker pens, paint, gouache, card, and digital media.

A further glossary can be found at:

Resources to support teaching and learning

  • Introductory section of the senior secondary teaching and learning guide for technology  
  • Safety in Technology Education: A Guidance Manual for New Zealand Schools
  • Books such as:
    • Sketching, drawing techniques for product designers – Koos Eissen and Roselien Steur
    • Learning Curves: An inspiring guide to improve sketch skills – Klara Sjolen and Alan MacDonald
    • Design Sketching – Erik Olofsson and Klara Sjolen
    • Visual Literacy – Judith Wilde
    • Contemporary Fashion Illustration Techniques – Naoki Watanabe
    • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – Betty Edwards
    • Architectural Drawing: A Visual Compendium of Types and methods – Rendow Yee
    • Le Corbusier Redrawn: The Houses – Steven Park
    • Sketching Interiors: Colour, a Step-by-step guide – Noriyoshi Hasegawa
    • The Architectural Drawing Course: Understanding the principles and master of practices – Mo Zell
    • The Book of Drawings + Sketches Architecture – Chris van Uffelen
    • Architectural Drawing – David Dernie
    • Freehand Drawing for Architects and Interior Designers – Magali Delgado Yanes & Ernest Redondo Dominguez
    • Presenting Architecture: Essential Techniques – Rikuo Nishmori
    • Portfolio Design – Harold Linton
    • Drawing for Landscape Architecture: Sketch to Screen to Site – Edward Hutchison
    • Landscape Graphics: Plan, Section, and Perspective Drawing of Landscape Spaces – Grant W. Reid
    • Notes on Graphic Design and Visual Communication – Greg Berryman


Assessment for qualifications

  • AS91337 Design & visual communication 2.30: Use visual communication techniques to generate design ideas
  • AS91338 Design & visual communication 2.31: Produce working drawings to communicate technical details of a design
  • AS91339 Design & visual communication 2.32: Produce instrumental perspective projection drawings to communicate design ideas
  • AS91343 Design & visual communication 2.36: Use visual communication techniques to compose a presentation of a design

Key messages for DVC standards

Key messages for individual DVC standards can be found on the following pages:

Last updated June 8, 2018