︎Back to Design 1

Spring 2021 ︎︎︎ CUNY Queens College ︎︎︎ (DESN241) Design 1

Personal Sigil


A sigil is a symbol used in ritual magic(k). You might be familiar with the movie Heriditary, which features the demon called Paimon. This was from The Lesser Key of Solomon, a book containing the sigils or “true names” of these demons.

You might also be familiar with the term sigils from the show Game of Thrones. The houses or families in this show have their own sigil and an accompanying motto. These sigils are a singular symbol that encompasses some component of the motivation of the house. For example, the Starks’ direwolf represents both where they are from and their “wildness” separate from the machniations of the capital to the south. 

These are not dissimilar to medieval coats of arms. Or the more abstract mon from Japan.

With these historical examples in mind, you’ll create your own “family crest” style symbolic form.


  • Research the history of a group. It could be your family, a fictional family, or a close personal friend’s.
  • Use that research to create a “coat of arms”-style collection of symbols in a vectorized form; we’ll refer to this as a sigil.

Final submission

Note that for this assignment forward, submissions on the date due will not be accepted if you do not include the elements listed below. That is to say you will get a 0 (zero) for the assignment. The final version of your assignment must be uploaded into your respective folder by 3PM on the day of class otherwise you will not be critiqued.
The final link you send me must contain the following things:

  • A folder for the final sigil graphic containing:
    • An .EPS file of your final sigil graphic.
    • A .PNG of your final sigil graphic with a transparent background. (at least 1000px by 1000px)

  • 3 posters based on your sigil
    • A .PNG or .PDF of each poster that is at least 11in by 17in at 150dpi

  • A folder with your research containing:
    • Links to any websites, videos, or articles you looked at in preparation for your piece.
    • All sketches of relevant items from your research (this can be digital or a scan or photograph of a drawing).
    • Previous iterations of your sigil graphics (as .PNG files)
    • All icons you made to incorporate into your final sigil graphic (as .PNG files)


note that failure to meet these requirements will result in a 0 for this assignment.

  • Your final sigil graphic must meet the following requirements.
      • (At least) 4 individual symbols or icons
      • Surrounding graphics which “house” your sigil. This can be a shield, laurels, a circle, animals, flowers, fleurons, or other non-representational decoration.
      • The name of the group as a title.
      • A motto or short saying related to the organization.
    • Do not use the following fonts Gill Sans, Gotham, Helvetica, Futura, or any system default typeface (Windows or Mac). Use the resources page to help you find fonts.
    • Note which fonts you selected and be ready to discuss them.
    • It is okay for your sigil to be in color. Limit yourself to a scheme of 4 colors (including black or white)


    • This should be obvious but please don’t just recreate a Game of Thrones house sigil. You are welcome to do this with respect to the assignment terms, but not a simple copying of the Lannister lion for example.
    • Again, this should be obvious, but please do not simply look up your family’s coat of arms and copy it in a vector form. If you want to do that you should research it, but do not simply copy it.
    • Take into account the “graphic-ness” of your symbol. Focus on simplying complex shapes and essentializing them. For example with the cheeseburger you did as part of the tutorial, the object was simplified.

Relevant Dates

    • 11/16/2021︎︎︎Introduction!

      Complete the Knitting Circle: Illustrator︎ project with an eye towards this project. Start the research component of your project. You must have at least three groups, families, or organizations as possible discussions. Write at least 3 complete and clear sentences about each group or organization. Collect at least 5 images related to each group that could serve as imagery. People will be chosen at random next class to speak on their research. 
    • 11/23/2021 ︎︎︎Check in #1

    • We’ll discuss the research component, have three possible groups/organizations and be ready to present or discuss your research and research process. It would be helpful for yourself if you have sketched by this stage but it is not necessary to submit.
    • 11/30/2021 ︎︎︎ Check in #2

    • Be ready to discuss the visual component of your project. With at least three different visual directions.
    • 12/07/2021︎︎︎ Check in #3

    • This class we will discuss pared down choices for you visual directions based on previous feedback.
    • 12/14/2021 ︎︎︎Critique, part 1

      Work must be submitted by this day so that it can be discussed.
    • 12/21/2021 ︎︎︎Critique, part 2


(note that these were not for this assignment, and don’t necessarily fulfill all the requirements. They exemplify the quality of work that you should be striving to achieve)

Examples of student work 

(please note that these are mainly to show the level of complexity I was hoping for, the terms of the assignment have changed as the assignment has evolved).