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Spatial Visualization

Idea Representation course

This assignment was designed for postgraduate students at IDC School of Design in covid times to encourage interaction and participation in an online environment. Each student designs a puzzle with the use of an isometric grid and challenges his classmates to solve it within a time limit.


Welcome, to this ice-breaker exercise in the course idea-representation to improve spatial visualization and experience the design act of creation. We will go through stages of production, the importance of iterations and articulating design decisions to create a meaningful digital product. Your knowledge of graphic software (vector-based) will be handy as a skill for this assignment. Your contribution to the task is how you can improve upon the basic idea that is proposed and make it more challenging for the end-user (viewer). Let’s get on with the job.

Assignment Task

Create a two snake (abstraction) puzzle using the isometric grid. As in, draw two snakes interlocked in a predefined isometric* grid space to create an interesting composition. Interlock the bodies of the snakes in such a manner that makes it difficult for the viewer to decode the path of the snakes.

What is the puzzle? 

Shown below are two snakes in the composition, you have to match the head to tail of the snake by tracing its path. The role of the designer is to make it confusing so the viewer experiences a challenge to solve the puzzle.

What is your role as a designer? 

As a designer, you have to create a confusing snake path. The composition should have two snakes. The viewer has to decode the tail ( end of the path ) from the start (head of the snake). The head of the snake should be clearly visible and should not be hidden.

What is the challenge? 

After you design the puzzle, you can challenge your classmate to solve it within a specific time limit. The time limit can be proposed by you or by them. If both parties agree then the challenge is executed in presence of the instructor, who will act as moderator. The winner is awarded points.

How is the challenge executed online?

When the two parties agree to the challenge, the puzzle will be shared on screen using Zoom (an online conferencing tool). The sharing screen is active only for the agreed-upon time. The person who solves the puzzle has to annotate on-screen and discover the path of the snake from its head to tail. If the path is correct and within the timeframe, then the person wins. 

Designed Puzzle Sample - Question Sheet

Designed Puzzle Sample - Answer Sheet

Try solving this:

Video of students solving the puzzle using ZOOM

What are pain points in the puzzle?

Paint points are the pathways that confuse the viewer while solving the puzzle. The number of paint points in a puzzle should not be more than 2 or 3. A pain point should hide minimum number of cubes. If you hide a maximum number of cubes to create a pian point that will be considered unfair.

Essentials of a good solution

  • Keeps changing directions for the path of the snake
  • Design intelligent pain points* for the viewer for him to repetitively and closely inspect the path before he decides to proceed further on the path.
  • Solving the puzzle is time-bound, so more the pain points difficult the puzzle.

Definition of a good puzzle
“A good puzzle is the one which makes the viewers feel that they can solve it, but halfway into the puzzle discover it to be difficult”. Make the entry point to the puzzle easier, this makes them attempt your puzzle.
Mandar Rane
* Definition of the pain point in the context of this assignment? 
These are the areas in the puzzle designed to encourage spatial visualization for the viewer.
The more the number of pain points the more difficult the puzzle. A pain point is a good measure for the instructor to evaluate how well the student has designed the puzzle.

Understand the isometric grid

What is isometric grid?

Isometric drawing is a 3D representation of an object on a 2D surface. The dictionary definition of isometric says, of or having equal dimensions (measure). In an isometric grid, the object appears as if it is viewed from one corner. See the figure below. Isometric drawings use a parallel projection; therefore, objects remain of the same size no matter how far away they are. Objects, thus are not distorted, and you can see all the three views, front, top and side(depth).

Guidelines and submission format

1. Document complex pathways.
2. Export image as a jpeg file with 1000 px (width) at a resolution of 150 PPI

The puzzle image question must include the following information:

  • Total number of snakes used in the puzzle: xx
  • Number of cubes for 1st Snake: xx
  • Number of cubes for 2nd Snake: xx
  • Number of failed attempts by challengers: x
  • Number of successful attempts by challengers: x
  • Time to solve the puzzle: x
  • Name and picture of the designer
  • Level of difficult
  • Colour the paths of the snakes for the puzzle answer sheets.
  • Please illustrate the hidden cubes in the answer sheets.

The puzzle answer image must:

  • Colour the paths of the snakes seperately.
  • Please illustrate the hidden cubes in the answer sheets.

Follow these rules of creation for a fair game (challenge)

Fig2: Snakes move on three planes
Fig3: When the side of the snake moves from one plane to another, this change should be separated or marked by a line  
Fig4: Acute turns without gap are allowed
Fig5: At no point the snake should go outside the artwork
Fig6: Illusions are not permitted

Rules in words

“The head (start points) and the tail-ends (endpoints) of all the snakes should be visible”. You should not hide them.
- Fair game rule
  • Choose a minimum of 2 snakes to design the puzzle.
  • Each snake should have a single body path from end to finish. 
  • Use dots as eyes to indicate the starting point (the head of each snake).
  • Trace lines over the isometric grid. No horizontal lines are allowed.
  • The approximate size of the cube formed in the isometric grid should be 5mm.
  • The size of the grid should be constant and cannot vary.
  • The puzzle should be from a single viewpoint only.
  • Multiple viewpoints that create illusion are not allowed. 
  • Line thickness for the entire puzzle should be 0.5 pt only
  • Acute turns are allowed (Refer Fig 4. above) 
  • Keep a colour answer to your puzzle ready (this is part of the submission)
  • Display statistics as explained in the puzzle template (Refer Fig 1. above)
  • Keep the base isometric grid ‘OFF‘ in the puzzle.
Head and the tail-ends of all the snakes to be traced should be visible.
One block hiding for the tail can be permitted if easy to visualize
Note: Avoid mistakes, be professional. Avoid saying sorry. Violation of the rules will disqualify or leads to a penalty. Check your creations thoroughly.

Download: Assignment 

Free Download the assignment for detailed reading
Mandar Rane
Prof. Mandar Rane
Communication Design
Faculty, IDC, IIT Bombay
ASSOCIATE collaborators 
Prof. Avinash Shende
Prof. Avinash Shende
Product Design
Faculty, IDC, IIT Bombay
Prof. Purba Joshi
Product Design
Faculty, IDC, IIT Bombay
Students Associates

1. Divya Gagnani - Illustrations to explain rules in figures 2, 3, 4 and 5
2. Kashish Panjvani - Drawing of the illusion figure 6

- Representing your ideas.
- Understanding drawing/illustration as an objective task.
- Creating effective communication through a specific medium.
- Envisaging a designed digital product.
- Improve spatial visualization by creation
Evaluation Criteria

- Ability to think of new ideas
- Adding balanced level complexity to the puzzle
- Precision and neatness in execution
- Timely submission
- Attention to detail

The course code is DE 623  It is an elective course at IDC School of design. It is open for M.Des students of communication Design only. This year 2020 course will be conducted online