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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. Using the isometric grid each student designs a puzzle and challenges his classmates to solve it within a time limit and followed with reward points of the teams.


Welcome, to this ice-breaker exercise in our course idea representation to experience the acts of creation and improve spatial visualization. We will experience the stages of production, the importance of iterations and articulating design decisions to create a meaningful final product. We plan to build a 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 snake puzzle using the isometric grid. As in, draw the two snakes interlocked in a predefined isometric* grid space. Interlock the bodies of the snakes in such a manner that makes it difficult for the viewer to decode the puzzle.

What is the puzzle? 

There are two (abstracted) 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.

Designed Puzzle Sample - Question Sheet

Designed Puzzle Sample - Answer Sheet

Designed Puzzle Gallery - Try solving

Video of students solving the puzzle

How do I know my solution is the best?

The best solution will create hurdles, (which we define as pain points), while the viewer traces the path to discover the tail end of the snake. The designer should create pain points.

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.
  • Solving the puzzle is time-bound, so more the pain points difficult the puzzle.

“A good puzzle is the one which makes the viewer feel he can solve it, but later he discovers it to be difficult”. 
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.

Video on 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).

Sample Isometric Grid:

Guidelines and submission format

1. Document complex pathways.
2. Export image as a jpeg file in 1000px width at 150 PPI

The puzzle image should 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 
  • Your answer sheet should be coloured and the hidden cubes should be illustrated

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

“Head and the tail-ends of all the snakes to be traced should be made visible”.
- The most important rule
(exception: Tail ends can be hidden upto one cube)
  • You can choose any number of snakes (starting from 1) to make your puzzle.
  • Use dots as eyes to mark the head of each snake.
  • Eyes should be aligned and distorted to lie in the same plane as the head.
  • Trace lines over the isometric grid. No horizontal lines exist in it.
  • 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 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
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
3. Darshan Malviya - Sample puzzle illustrated inside figure 1 


- Representing your ideas.
- Understanding drawing/illustration as an objective task.
- Creating effective communication through a specific medium.
- Envisaging a designed product.
- Improve your ability to analyze your artwork as a communication message.
- Improve spatial visualization.
Evaluation Criteria

- Thinking new ideas
- Adding 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