Pilot case

Gamifying Learning of Visual Communication Skills

A scalable introductory drawing and visual communication course for all Aalto students, implemented as a digital game that automatically assesses the drawings of students and provides clear quantitative and visual feedback. 
Gamifying Learning of Visual Communication Skills

Pilot leader

Perttu Hämäläinen
Martti Raevaara


School of Arts Design and Architecture, School of Science


27 students




The Aalto Drawing pilot focuses around an application of the same name, creating a gamified online learning platform for the course participants. The application uses automatic assessment technology to grade the participants’ drawings and awards them stars based on the accuracy of their performance. This aims to create an encouraging and risk-free environment to learn new skills on visual expression – an area where many people may have poor self-confidence. Our aim is to give the users visual communication skills used with self-confidence and ease, benefiting them in their studies and future enterprises.

The gamified application is divided into different lessons covering central themes of visual expression and communication, like the human body, graphic design or perspective. The lessons are then divided into chapters that cover a short introductional theory portion and exercises that are linked to the theory. At the end of each lesson the player takes a quiz and a self-reflective survey. 1 ECTS is awarded after gaining 1000 stars.

In a larger frame of reference the Aalto Drawing application and the accompanying course take part in experimental methods of implementing automated assessment into the art teaching field and learning methods. It can be considered as a project that explores blended learning and 21st century skills in a world that is increasingly visual and where visual communication and expression skills are a great benefit.

Platforms and tools

Unity 3D

Pedagogical methods

Aalto Drawing implements drawing and visual communication syllabus and exercises as a game that one can play on a mobile phone or tablet. The Aalto Drawing app fits the definition of a game, as it gives user clear challenges, goals and feedback, e.g., a percentage number of how well one’s drawing matches a model image. Aalto Drawing strives to create a low-treshold, approachable learning environment that encourages even the shyest of people to try out drawing.

The learning philosophy of the project and application is founded on an understanding of a  motivated, active and self-imposing learner. The initial visual skillset of a learner/player is not important, because the application aims to produce and develop visual communication  skills. The application is constructed so that the learner acquires a certain way to process and visualize information they perceive in their environment. The application aims to both build a visual library of symbols, and to teach the learner to perceive the world around and let go of conventions of seeing and drawing.

In very simplified words, the application strives for the learner to let go of the thought “I can’t draw”.

The development process was a multidisciplinary effort through and through. The educational content was developed in a dialogue between end users, an art education major  student and an art education/game design major student. The development started with a charting survey on what university students see as beneficial or interesting visual expression and communication skills. The survey results taken into consideration, the students designed the content and application UI to best fit the needs of the future users, keeping gamification in mind.

Involved courses

TAI-C1173 – Aalto Drawing (1 ECTS)


Perttu Hämäläinen
School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media, School of Science, Department of Computer Science
Pilot leader

Martti Raevaara
School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Art
Pilot leader

Christina Lassheikki
Department of Art
Game design, syllabus and exercise design, user research

Iina Nokelainen
Department of Art
Game design, syllabus and exercise design, user research

Yuanqi Shan
Department of Media
Game programming

Maximus Kaos
Department of Computer Science
Game programming, user research

Heikka Valja
Department of Art

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