I'm working on an infographic that depicts a satellite "beaming" down a video signal to a receiver on planet Earth.

How exactly would one design this video signal? I don't want the viewer to think the beam is a laser beam, and I don't want it to look like a particle beam, or a light beam from a UFO, etc.

How would you draw/illustrate a beam or streak that conveys to the user that it can't be seen by the naked eye, yet, it illustrates that data is being transmitted?

Also, if anyone knows of a Photoshop tutorial out there that I could follow to create it, that would be great! Thanks for your time.

  • 3
    Could you show us what you've tried and why you feel it's not working?
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 4:09
  • 3
    This looks like brainstorming/idea gathering for a specific project… which is off-topic.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 14:48
  • 1
    @e-sushi Not necessarily off-topic, see this meta post. We have been accepting representation questions migrated from UX, I don't see how this one is any different. Scott's comment is valid, though. It helps to see what has been tried.
    – Yisela
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


You can show a series of translucent video frames in a line between the satellite and receiver. The reader will know they are representative because they haven’t seen video frames in the sky. And you are properly depicting that frames of video are being sent one after the other.

The frames can just be TV-shaped rectangles, translucent to imply their virtual nature. You can put a talking head on every one, or make a simple animation like a ball or bird moving across the screen from frame to frame.


I would add some lines like in the wlan-icon as they represent unseen signals

From IconFinder:

enter image description here

  • If this was inverted (as mentioned above "coming from space"), this would look like a tractor beam to me. See here...wraithkal.info/wp-content/uploads/QqO6g.jpg
    – Phlume
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 21:34
  • No, I thought thinner ones, not EXACTLY like the ones from the icon...more like this: atrexx.com/images/cms/19183148.jpg
    – marsman
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 21:40
  • Can this new image you have posted represent the same meaning/message without the giant satellite "leading the witness" though? The concentric circles you show still feel like a tractor beam. I only recognize it as a signal because of the dish shown.
    – Phlume
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 21:43
  • Here's a NASA image. Does this look too much like laser?filegr.am/buckets/v/SugljHLa
    – redshift
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 2:55

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