top of page

Wave Symbol Set


This project was aimed to develop a symbol set. I decided to focus on the ocean, more specifically on waves.


The main challenge for this project was finding ways to distinguish between the types of waves within my symbol set. I did a lot of research on different types of waves and the dove into what they each represent.


The goal of this project was to successfully represent different waves through a symbol set. Each symbol has an intricate and complex design that illustrates the nature of a specific wave.


I developed 5 different complex symbols to represent 5 different types of waves including a ripple, low tide, high tide, surf waves, and tsunami. It starts with the calmest form of a wave and progresses into the most complex form.



Ripples are the instant effect of wind on water. The water falls just as fast as it rises. The ripple creates direction in the water. The warped, curved lines of the icon follow each other in a diagonal direction. The radiation of the curvy lines create a ripple effect, moving your eye up and down across the icon in a ripple like motion.

Low Tide

Low tide is when the tide is at its lowest level. The ocean pulls the tide deeper into the ocean. The curved lines squiggle in and out, creating the pull of the ocean in a diagonal direction. The curved lines are repeated to create the effect that it pulls you up towards the top left of the circle.

High Tide

High tide is when the ocean is at its fullest point on the beach. The water pushes out onto the sand. The curved lines push out, in a diagonal direction, representing the tide at its fullest point. The curvy shapes move your eye towards the bottom right of the circle.

Surf Wave

A surf wave is a steep wave with water breaking at the edge of it, creating a nice curve for surfing. The swirls follow each other around in a radial formation, creating a curved shape that represents a surf wave. The lines are repetitive and mimic each other, building up the form of a wave.



A tsunami is a series of strong waves caused by a big and sudden displacement in the ocean. It is very powerful and destructive. There are 3 different parts of this icon that creates 3 different textures and directions, representing the chaos of a tsunami. The left side of the circle has swirls moving out. The center section of the circle is made up of a collection of squiggles curving around. The top of the circle has a swirl effect that takes your eye up and effect that takes your eye up and around the circle.


As I was brainstorming ideas for this symbol set, I created a ton of different iterations, all ocean themed. I made 20 triangle based symbols, 20 square based symbols, and 20 circle based symbols. Each have some connection to the ocean. Some are more literal while others are more interpretive. 





Once I had a nice selection of symbols, I narrowed it down to my favorite ones. I decided to go with the concept of waves and I liked how the circle shaped symbols portrayed a softness and allowed for more focus on the visuals within it than some of the other shapes did.

Iteration #1


These symbols represented the individual waves well, but I wanted them to connect to each other better. The goal was to have them create a symbol set and feel connected within a system.

Iteration #2


In this iteration, I focused on using the swirl technique to connect each symbol. I also played around with the is of white and black and which was more dominant within each symbol.

Iteration #3


I noticed that in my previous iteration, the surf wave was more literal than the rest of the symbols. So I decided to make it more interpretive lve like the rest of the symbol set to better unify the system.

Iteration #4


At this point, I was making small adjustments overall to unify the system while giving each symbol its own unique identity as well.



After working on each symbol until it was the strongest I felt it could be, I reached the final versions of each. I am very happy with how the final symbol set turned out. They are each dynamic and unique in their own way, representing a specific wave, but they all are unified and create a powerful symbol set.

bottom of page