Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Creating Braille Art with a Perkins Brailler

Braille design collage

I have been encouraged to share some tips on creating Braille Art with a Perkins Brailler. These “Art” pieces help students by encouraging them to participate in holiday traditions throughout the year like other sighted students, while they practice their braille skills. (Listening skills are also improved if done as an oral exercise).

The first step in creating a Braille Art piece is to find a suitable icon to duplicate. This can be done through a Web search for images. The drawing should be black and white and simple. As your skills improve, you may decide to include more detail but remember that too much detail can be confusing to a blind student.
 
Next, blow up the figure to about the size you would like it to be in braille. This should be fairly easy since we are experts at enlarging.
 
Now decisions have to be made as to whether it will be done as a silhouette or outline, or maybe a little of both. What needs to stand out? Focus on the general feeling of the piece. Ignore fine details that are simply visual.
 
Finally, the actual creation. I usually start at the top. If it is very bottom heavy, like my Pirate Ship, I will start at the bottom and move up. I find the topmost/bottommost element, decide where on the page I should start (gauging this from my printed icon as an example). Then begin to move up/down line by line.
 

Step-by-Step Instructions to Create a Braille Design

SnowmanI’m going to start from scratch with a project that I was asked to think about, A SNOWMAN! I’ll go through the process with you.
 

1.  Pick an image.

First I pick an image or icon. I like this cute one. Not too complicated, and it can be simplified as needed to make it easier!
 
(I’ll refer to dark places as filled in with braille, white will be braille lines.) I’ll make the hat dark with a white ribbon and dark underside. The Snowman himself will be white with nose, mouth, eyes, stick arms, and scarf will be made dark. The ground will be dark for a contrast.
 

2.  Prepare a copy that is the right size.

Next, I prepare a copy about the size I want it. Adjust the position to upright to make it easier.
 
                           Copy of snowman image
 
Notice that I left room for error. If he ends up a little bigger or smaller, it will be fine.
 

3.  Technique:  Creating Curves

Now let’s talk technique!
 
Boxes and straight lines are easy to create, however the curves make the challenge of a good Braille Art piece. I create solid curves by using several braille cell choices depending on the slope, “with”, “of”, “q”, “er” can be used for many solid curves. Add a cell or subtract a cell to keep the curve going. Like this:
 
Braille slopeBraille slopeBraille slopeBraille slope
                            
 
To change the slope, try adding a “d”, “f”, “question mark”, or “simple close quote”, like this:    
 
Braille slopeBraille slopeBraille slopeBraille slope
                        
And now I start creating!
 
I’m going to start on line 3.  I can always move him down if he looks too high on the page later. 

braille hat

4.  Figure out how to simplify the image.

Notice the simplification of the hat. The idea of the parts of the hat (the top, the ribbon, and the brim) is the most important thing.

Braille snowman body

Then the main body. Notice that I decided to make a bold outline on the body. A last minute change, I decided that the scarf would be more recognizable if it were separated from the body.
 

5.  Add detail.

 
As I add in detail, I have to add in cells and erase spaces.
 
Negative snowman
 
As I add the detail, the pink (missing cells) get in the way of seeing how something is really looking, so I highlight the whole picture and look at it as a negative. 
 
Doing this, I see that I don’t like the carrot nose. It runs into the mouth. I can play with it or just make a coal nose. 
 

Revised negative snowman

6.  Decide how to refine the drawing.

Hmmm, looks good to me! But I’m thinking that the brim of the hat needs to be solid. Minor change and …
 
Finished braille snowman

Here is my finished work. Now I am ready to start looking at what I created to make the instructions for the project.

Enjoy creating your own to share with us!!!

See the full list of Edith's braille designs!


 

 

Comments

Best Braille Drawings that I have seen!

Posted by Christy

These are some of the best braille drawings that I have ever seen. Thank You for sharing these!!

Thank you, I'm glad they are

Posted by dotwriter

Thank you, I'm glad they are being well received and used.

Love your drawings

Posted by Marci Benshoof

I love your drawings. You have such a talent. Every time I see one, I steal it! How can I purchase your book?

Book--Yes

Posted by Marci Benshoof

I think you should consider putting all of your Braille designs into a book form. I'd certainly be first in line to purchase it! Maybe you could share part of the profits with a charity to do with blindness, or start a scholarship for blind students. Worth thinking about.

Wonderful gift for so many ❤️

Posted by Wendy West

Wonderful gift for so many ❤️❤️❤️

Braillables

Posted by alyssajolley

Hello there.

My name is Alyssa, and I am a student in the TVI program at the University of Northern Colorado. I am glad I stumbled across this post. I am a braille reader and have been fascinated with braillables ever since I first used them for a project in elementary school. We were all given a state and had to come up with a report about it which had to include the state’s flower, bird, and flag.

For those not aware, there is a book titled So What About Drawing. It was written by Marie Porter and used to be available for purchase. It is the book my TVI used. Now, it can be found readily through search engines for download. This book is the one I pulled ideas from for my project many years ago.

Edith, you have greatly expanded on this idea, and I love your other designs. Thank you for sharing them with us. If only we were all so creative.

There are so many uses for braille drawings besides individual pages in something like my former project. Not only can they be used to enhance experience stories or purchased books for young children learning to read if sized small enough, but they can also be used for something like a schedule for students with additional disabilities who have difficulties reading. The schedule could be created on a poster board and placed by a student’s desk (if the desk is by a wall) or another place the student frequently visits. There should be Velcro strips on the poster board as well as on the back of each appropriately-sized braillable. If a student is learning to read but still depending more on physical characteristics, words of the upcoming events can be written below the braillables. As things are completed from the schedule each day, they can be placed in a bin so that the student knows they are completed. A schedule like this can be used to show changes in events of a coming day as well, though of course those changes would need to be explained in advance to avoid potential melt-downs if students have any sort of behavior problems.

Braille Drawings of trees

Posted by Valerie Alcaraz

Have you ever tried to make a Braille drawing of different types of trees? Also, I love the book idea as well. Is there any way that a person could get updated specifically when you post a new drawing here?

Braille art.

Posted by Jill

I so enjoy learning about these drawings. Do any of you know where I can find a book specifically in Braille to learn this?

Braille Drawings

Posted by Charlotte Cushman

Hi Jill,

Drawing With Your Perkins Brailler is available in braille:  http://www.perkinsproducts.org/store/en/perkins-publications/236-drawing...

Enjoy!

Charlotte

Braille Art

Posted by Kate Putt

Has anyone tried using this concept with KidWriting? I am trying to get some ideas for making writing fun for braille users.

KidWriting

Posted by Charlotte Cushman

Hi Kate,

Could you tell us more about the type of activity you're looking for?  For example, how old are the students you're talking about?  Are these Kindergarteners?  Do they already know the braille code?  Is the rest of the class using Kid Writing?   If the goal is primarily to encourage young children just to WRITE and not to worry too much about the mechanics at first, then creating an experience book about something that was fun or a tactile book about favorite activities can be a fun and motivating way to get started.  Have a look at this tactile experience book to get some ideas: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/strategies/tactile-experience-book-calvin...

Here's a different type of book about a subject a child is interested in:  http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/strategies/spiderman-themed-braille-book

Let us know what you try!

Add new comment