In contrast to the many investigations which discuss in what respect digital pictograms and ideograms are, or are not, a ‘language’, the following contribution approaches the question from the opposite perspective: To what extent are emoticons, kaomoji, and emoji ‘pictures’? While it has become clear that these kinds of signs are not ‘universally’ understandable across cultures, at least some level of immediate pictorial comprehension is never seriously questioned—before cultural codings or ‘second-level connotations’ come into play. Where does the first level end and the second level begin? My chapter turns to the interdisciplinary field of picture theories, connecting cognitive-semiotic and phenomenological perspectives to explain the perceptual or phenomenological sensation of seeing three-dimensional objects ‘in’ two-dimensional shapes and colors. I then outline a model of pre-linguistic misunderstandings. First, ‘below’ what is called the ‘iconic threshold’, recipients must actively draw inferences in order to ‘see’ a represented object or scene; ‘above’ this threshold, however, usually no explicit knowledge is necessary to ‘see’ a depicted object or scene. I then address a variety of open questions regarding the role of the imagination for the pictorial comprehension of emoji.