I need to illustrate a pack that rolls down 3 time at the top and can only use black and white and no words. I'm using Adobe Illustrator because it has to be vector art. End result will be screen printed.

Here is what I currently have. Just not really feeling I'm getting the point across. enter image description here

You can see a bigger version of this image here

It's a bag that you fill up with water and roll down the top 3 times and clip to seal the water in. The clips have to be a specific color. Every thing else has to be black and white.

Can anyone else think of a better way to illustrate this process?

UPDATE I ended up taking the dotted line advice and tried to make the water fill process separate from the fold down instructions.

Here are the final results: enter image description here You can see a bigger version of this image here

Thanks for all the help!


6 Answers 6


Perhaps you can have a ghosted original image remain in the background. Slightly opaque. As the pack rolls down, the actual opaque image would show more. It may assist as identifying relative change over the period of images. Hope it helps or creates other ideas for you.


I would add a dark grey dashed or dotted line to show where each fold lands and remove the lines as you progress in the images.

I think your folding comes across pretty well, I'm more concerned with what happens between your 1st image and the 2nd one. Maybe a step is missing there. I can't tell where all the additional details in the 1st image is going and I can't tell from where the small handles shown on image 2 come from (the black parts used for folding)


You say it will be screen printed, and that makes me think that it will be printed on anything else but paper. Fabric, metal, plastic. In that case it is even more important to make it simple, so that the contrast of the image is good enough on the background.

Depending on the size of the finished instructions; I would make the bag less black.

Consider the instructions from IKEA. They are not stylish, but for the most part they work well. Particularly, note the use of thick and thin lines. enter image description here

Those who actually have the bag will be pretty familiar with the shape and various bits; having every detail in not needed. I agree with the dotted lines suggested by @Emilie.

The tap definitely needs some work. The thickness of the lines on the tap is confusing, you could make those a good deal thinner. The tap itself is not part of the object. In addition the tap would benefit from being more "tap-like". Try go with an old-fashioned tap.

I have made a terribly crude drawing, but I hope I get the point across. I would use outlines only, dotted lines on the bag, thinner lines on the tap. I am uncertain if you need all three steps for folding three times? It might be enough with the first and the last where the fastening occurs.

I would also like to point out that you do not need to show the whole bag the whole time: note IKEAs "magnifier".

This is very very crude, I think you should use the hands you have made and refine this to the quality of what you got. But here is the general idea. enter image description here

  • Thats a great idea. Unfortunately, I've ran out of time. I had to send the drawings off an hour ago. I do like how you added the X3 for the roll down. I might have a chance to edit one last time. If so I will try this method. Thank for the feedback. I appreciate it.
    – daugaard47
    Feb 7, 2014 at 16:53
  • Ah, that is a shame. I think that for instructions two things are key: simplicity and detail (by that I mean where does the drawing need to be how detailed.). You could have instructions that incrementally gets more "zoomed" in, as long as you have established the whole in the first few pictures. Comic books stories often do this.
    – benteh
    Feb 8, 2014 at 11:32

1) The step from the first to the second image is unclear. Same thing with the last one.

2) The arrows and the numbering are confusing.

The side arrows currently suggest a back-to-front folding rather than rolling downwards. They should be corrected accordingly, and the vertical arrows should be removed.

The position of the numbers above the object can create ambiguity. Try putting the numbers next to the respective roll-down arrows to indicate that that they are referring to the number of rolling actions.

You could try to increase the visual difference between the first and the third rolling state, e.g., by introducing a slightly exaggerated length of that part of the bag, or by 'ghosting' as suggested by Javi, using thin, possibly dotted lines.

3) The last step reveals a problem with the viewing angle. You simply don't see what's happening in the last image… Also, it's unclear what happens with the green-coloured buckles in the second last image.


I see two things that can be done:

  • it took me a while to understand that the top part of the first image was a water tap. Perhaps you may try to draw it from the side, and a little higher so it's clear it isn't part of the foldable bag.

  • for the folding part it wasn't very evident also (I only got it from your text description). You may add a small vignette with lateral view for those steps. Also perhaps not filling everything in black but just having a black outline may make it easier to catch (or not, but it may worth trying it)


Step 1. Took a while to figure out that something is filling a bag, though for those using the bag and knowing where to fill it this might be clearer.

Step 2. I don't know if two arrows showing the closure straps are to be pulled outwards (if that's what's done) might help. The backside of the bag might do better with being a little more obvious / thicker line?

Step 3/4/5. I don't agree with others that the numbers shouldn't be where they are. I think they make perfect sense with the down arrow. The rolling arrows need to be rotated more vertically. At the moment they could be seen as front to back (which it also sort of is) but if rotated 10-20 degrees might look more like rolling down.

Step 6. +10 for the * click!

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