Visual Analysis Essay: How To Write An Analysis Essay On A Painting, Picture, Image

A visual analysis essay can be defined as a combination of the different methods used to analysis a particular image, painting, photo, film or any over visual media object. It is more effective as it helps the reader/observer to get all that information in an efficient manner just by observing one picture or image.

To write a good visual analysis essay, follow the guidelines given below:

The main stages of writing a visual analysis essay are:

  • Getting that picture / image which you want to use for your essay: This may be a magazine, newspaper or internet image, it all depends upon the subject of your essay and the article/picture used in that essay. If possible please try to get some related document with this picture which you will be taking for analysis so that you will be able to provide more information and facts regarding that image.
  • Taking careful notes about that particular image or picture: In this step, take a note of all the details present on that image like place of photo shoot, events which are present in it, outfits worn by people shown on image etc. Also make sure that you are looking at your image in a greater size so that you can have a good look on all the details present on it.
  • Taking notes about technical specifications: This may be color of the background, lighting used and shade given to that particular subject/person which is being shown in picture etc. Also make sure how they are posed or positioned in that picture, do they look happy or sad etc.
  • Taking notes about the subject and theme of your image: This step is very important as you are going to write about that particular topic or image in essay format so it should be taken seriously. In this step try to figure out what are all the details which you have noted in your previous steps and try to come up with a theme of your essay. Your main focus should be on the details, so make sure that you are not missing any important information present on image/picture.
  • Taking notes about comparison: After taking all the notes mentioned above you can now compare those things which are common in these notes which you have taken. Compare the weather, lightings, people's dressing styles and positioning on both pictures.

What is visual analysis?

Visual analysis is the process of analyzing a painting or other work of art by looking closely at its visual elements. Visual analysis can be done as an exercise to better understand an artwork and, in some cases, to describe it. Some people do this type of analysis for fun, and others do it as part of their jobs.

A person who does visual analysis might look at something like a painting and break it down into shapes, lines, colors, subjects, and other parts that help compose the whole work. They might then try to identify any patterns or themes in the composition that they see. Finally, they might form thoughts about what message they think the artist may have been trying to convey with the work.

Visual analysis is used in many fields including art, design, architecture and, most notably, biology.

The basic steps of visual analysis involve observing specimens or samples; making observations about what appears to be present; comparing those observations with others to make sure you are not making an error; creating categories for the observations; and forming conclusions or analyzing patterns.

Structure of a visual analysis paper

After doing all these things your main writing of essay will start where you will be writing about this particular issue in an informative manner. The basic structure which should be followed while writing a visual analysis essay is given below.

Section 1: Introduction

In this section your main focus should be on the main topic of your visual analysis essay. This introduction should be short, crisp and clear so that you can grab the attention of your reader from the beginning. A good introduction will make your reader to read further and further.

One main thing which you should keep in mind while writing an introduction is that you have to give a brief idea about your topic. Do not make your reader guess what it's all about, make them understand from the very beginning that this particular image/picture is about how and why?

Section 2: Analysis

This section is the most important part of your painting analysis essay. As you have done all your research work in previous steps, so now you can talk about that particular issue very easily and effectively. This section should be longer than other sections but do not make it too lengthy just keep it between two to three paragraphs if possible.

In this section you can discuss all the facts which you have given in your notes and also give examples from that image/picture. You can write about things like weather, people's dressing style, sunshine etc. as they are important parts of any visual analysis essay.

Do not be judgmental while writing this section as you have to attract the attention of your reader and force him/her to read further. You should not start with an opinion, just give facts so that it seems more convincing.

Section 3:Conclusion

This section is very much similar to introduction except for a single point, you should not say what is your topic about in this particular section. Instead you have to tell the readers that what they have read is correct and how it matches with their thoughts, expectations etc or if there are any differences then tell them the reasons behind those differences.

In conclusion just summarize all the points which you have discussed in the previous sections. After writing conclusion you can end your essay with a strong statement which should leave an impact on readers mind and they should be able to understand that what you have written in the essay is clear, precise and convincing.

Discuss visual elements in visual analysis essay

Visual elements of visual analysis essay are basically those that include shapes, lines, colours and textures in a composition. These elements are the ones you could say as tangible substance used to make up an artwork.

One very important element is shape which is the basic building block for any artwork.It can be triangular or circular or rectangular depending on the artist's use of it.

The line ,on its part,is something that connects two points and every drawing needs this one to give definition to it.

The texture is another very necessary thing because without it an artwork would be totally blank unlike what we see today where almost all types of artworks have some type of texture added to them.

Colour may not appear as vital as rhythm and melody but then if you see an artwork that is all black and white,you would probably get bored after a few seconds of looking at it.

  • Composition: Composition in visual analysis gives a balance of elements within the image or picture and ensures that there is orderliness at all times.
  • Elements of design: In visual analysis, the elements of design are any basic component that is needed to establish a relationship between itself and other images or outlines of picture. These include line, shape/form, value/shades, texture and colour. These elements are used in combination to ensure that each picture or image has a visual appeal. They are put together proportionally so as to create balance in the whole composition
  • Focal point: In visual analysis, the focal point is a place in an image or a picture that attracts the eyes of the viewer to it. The focal point is created by certain color contrasts,shapes and textures.
  • Balance: Visual balance can be used to express harmony and stability among other objects surrounding it. Balance can be achieved through size of different images using size (proportionally). It involves putting elements together so as to create harmony within the whole composition
  • Rhythm: Rhythm on its part refers to movement of composition.Rhythmic patterns give depth and texture in pictures with bold lines being more noticeable than others. They are also present when there is repetition in objects within a picture or image
  • Scale: Scale is also important in visual analysis and it refers to size of objects within an image.For example,if you have a small object like a flower beside a tall building the former will look very insignificant compared to the latter and vice versa.

Visual balance,rhythm and scale are all crucial factors for creating good compositions ,and when employed together will ensure that your images or pictures are appealing enough to get noticed by people

The three levels of a visual analysis essay

I will use an example to illustrate how to start a visual analysis paper and write to the end.

Using the elements of design, form and colour help me to accomplish this. The first level is the most basic, i.e. it works best when you only use one or two elements to convey your message to someone else; and since we are talking about writing a visual analysis essay sample here – that 'someone' would be your reader (assessor). Since I have chosen these specific elements from an arrangement because they represent how much I value flowers in my life, it is safe to say that I value them a lot more than anything else for they are what brought peace into my otherwise chaotic life at times.

Next, comes the second level where you combine various elements in order to create a balance between them. In my case, I was able to do this by combining the colour red with a bunch of white flowers and leaves. Red stands for passion while white symbolises innocence which together work best when trying to create an impression that is rich in texture and form in order to convey your message clearly without causing any confusion.

Lastly, we have the third level where you start adding more levels of meaning behind a single element which can be used to express your feelings about what it means or how much do you value it. This one right here is where most writers who write essay topics fail because they are not able to take their work through all three levels; some might even say – those who have done so were writing analysis essay sample paragraphs which failed

How to write an image analysis essay example

You should write about your image with some description about visual elements in different types of compositions. Don't copy-paste this template when creating such an essay - use your own knowledge instead.

a) in the introduction part you could write about what visual elements are using some in writing your visual image analysis essay examples.

b) In the main body of an analysis essay you should compare these elements in two different compositions. Don't forget to add description as well.

c) To finish you can write a words of conclusion where you can give your thought about this topic.

Example of how to write an image analysis paper

One possible way on how to structure a visual image analysis essay:

  • Introduction-what are we going to write about? In what way will we approach our topic? What is our thesis statement?
  • Main body - several paragraphs with evidence (quotes) and reaction from the writer (thoughts);
  • Conclusion - a paragraph summarizing the essay, including its thesis statement;
  • Works Cited list: - listing the sources used in the essay (not needed if it's not a formal assignment)

Visual Analysis Essay Pictures

Wondering what are the best form of images that you can write a visual analysis paper on? Here are some of the most popular artworks, images, or pictures for visual analysis essay:

  1. Modern Art Pieces:
  2. Paintings - Oil paintings, historical form of art.
  3. Photographs
  4. Still Life Images and Sculptures.
  5. Internet Images: You can also use images found on the internet.

Make sure you cite your sources if it is a formal assignment.

Visual analysis essay example

Here is an sample visual image analysis essay written about the painting called "The Perfect Arrangement".

Title: Analysis of my painting "The Perfect Arrangement"

Prompt: Write a visual analysis essay on a historical painting or historical picture of your choice. Follow all the guidelines "how to write a visual analysis essay example" we discussed in class.

To analyse this painting, I would begin with its title; there is so much meaning behind it which can make up for the rest of our discussion. The first thing that comes into mind when one says 'perfect arrangement' is flowers; the painting is about flowers. The second thing would be that it should be arranged to result in harmony and beauty which leaves us with the idea that there is a purpose behind this arrangement.

For its composition, I would say that this picture was an experiment on my part as I tried out different form of art styles. The first thing one notices when looking at the painting is that it has a lot of contrast in both colour and form which gives the viewer an impression of brightness even before we have examined any other factors in detail. At closer observation, one can see how various flower species are grouped together along with some flowers taken from their natural habitat (trees),all set against white background giving them a 'clean' look and feel. Another important thing to note is that most of the flowers are arranged in groups of three with some additional plants scattered about. This arrangement can be seen as a contrast with the one off bouquet placed at the centre of it all; it gives emphasis and highlights just how perfect this arrangement really is.

From its design, I would say that 'The Perfect Arrangement' shows a connection between its form and texture (internal) and colour (external). The leaves are drawn in detail with very little to no shading making them look realistic. The petals on the other hand have been shaded which makes each flower look different from either another or compared to those that had little or no shading done to them. These colours on top leave us with the impression that they are fresh even though some of them have been arranged in a dried-up state which is an indication that this arrangement has taken a lot time to prepare.

From its form, we can see that this picture has been sketched with loose strokes as shown by how there is no clear outline drawn round most leaves and petals; it gives us the idea that nothing was forced when drawing these images which could be very helpful if one was looking for new ideas when coming up with their own floral arrangements.

One thing that stands out the most for me is how this picture is arranged, each flower has been placed in an appropriate position with some being of more importance than others. The only offset would be where one tall stem of a flower (what I think is a lily) is placed at the right hand side instead of it's natural place which would have been next to two other flowers. It could either imply that "this tall stem will stand alone" or "this stem is broken and thus it needs fixing". If we put these two together; a perfect arrangement with something broken, we can see where the message behind this title comes from. Whether there was intention behind this, I do not know but what remains clear to me are the meanings behind our discussion.

An overview of the elements used in writing this visual analysis essay sample

  1. Composition: I have used the elements that are found in a floral arrangement to express my feelings towards the subject. I know this because most of my ideas came from flowers since they are one of the few things that can make me feel at ease when no else does.
  2. Design: The design is exactly how it seems, an arrangement of various flowers and leaves which has been arranged with thought, care and time.
  3. Form: The form is sketched loose as it should be; so that it allows creativity to flow freely when putting this picture together.
  4. Texture / Media: The media was acrylic paint on a canvas board.

Visual Analysis Essay Topics

There are many topics that you can write a good visual analysis essay about. In most cases, when a teacher requires you to write a visual analysis essay, they will probably propose a couple of interesting topics to write about.

If you have not been assigned a topic for a visual analysis assignment, use a visual image analysis essay to:

  • Explain an unfamiliar concept or idea (what are the works of Shakespeare all about? What is it like to be in space?).
  • Evaluate poems, paintings, movies, TV programs.
  • Interpret visual images such as children's drawings or decorative art from around the world.
  • Are photographs ever works of art?
  • Why is it important to learn how to read images critically ?
  • What do these famous paintings by Picasso depict?
  • How does modern photography compare with painting?
  • Is this painting a statement on female sexuality?
  • Select an image of your choice and analyse its composition
  • Explain the symbolism in this famous picture by Matisse.
  • What does the following photograph say about American society of the 1960s?
  • What are some common themes in the works of Andy Warhol?
  • How do you interpret the following picture by Magritte?

References:

Tips in writing a great 5 paragraph essay

There are many mistakes that students make when they write a visual analysis paper; some of tips to avoid the most common mistakes are:

  • The introduction and conclusion should be 1 paragraph each.
  • Always include a thesis statement in the visual analysis paper.
  • The introduction should not just be a summary of the topic; instead, it should make some kind of point - not an argument or an opinion necessarily, but something that encapsulates what you have to say in the essay as a whole.
  • The body has three paragraphs. All three of them must contain your opinion on pictures for visual analysis essay that you're working on.
  • Use evidence from the images and support your opinions with other resources (e.g., books or online articles).

How to write a visual argument analysis essay

A visual argument analysis essay is going to be structured in the same way as a traditional academic argument analysis essay.

A visual argument can take many forms, from graphs and pie charts to photographs and illustrations, but it will always have an underlying structure that proves itself with evidence. In other words, every good visual argument essay is also an effective piece of written argument. That's why you need to follow these five steps when writing a visual argument analysis essay:

  1. State how the author has constructed their visual argument.
  2. Identify the key arguments by analyzing key data or information included within the image/s.
  3. Identify any outside sources used by paying attention to footnote references and bibliographic data.
  4. Summarize and evaluate the key arguments of both the visual Argument and the external sources used.
  5. State your own opinion about whether or not you agree with the argument, using evidence from within your academic reading/Writing assignment to support this.

These five steps will help you write a strong visual argument analysis essay but there are other things that you need to keep in mind when doing so:

  1. You do not have be an expert on all subjects that may be covered by a visual Argument as long as you can understand it well enough to identify the author's main points and any relevant outside sources then that is sufficient for you to fully evaluate and criticize it.
  2. You should always remember that the evidence used in a visual Argument may not be as reliable or convincing as the evidence found within an essay, book etc., so make sure you are critical of this whenever possible.
  3. So that you can write a quality piece of visual argument analysis essay, try to relate each idea mentioned within the text/image back to your own body of knowledge (i.e what you know about from previous academic reading material/lectures etc.) –this will enable you properly evaluate them for yourself and produce a well informed opinion on whether they are logical or credible enough for someone else to agree with.
  • Remember that just because visual arguments essays are easier to read and comprehend than traditional academic pieces of work, it does not mean that they are any easier to write about or critique.
  • You should have a thorough understanding of the visual Argument image/s you are analysing as well as any relevant outside sources used. Visual Arguments can be easy to read and even understand but often contain complex ideas that may need some explaining before you can fully appreciate them. This is why it can be helpful for you to get someone else to explain them first (e.g by showing them pictures/your essay etc.) so that you have a better grasp on what's going on. If possible try writing down any questions in your own words before attempting to answer them within the body of visual argument analysis essay.
  • When writing a visual argument analysis paper, although it may be easier to write about and explain than traditional written work, you should still always remember that it will need to contain all of the following 3 key components: * a general introduction, a body with well explained arguments (supported by evidence from within your academic reading/writing assignments), and finally a conclusion which summarises these points in order to make your opinion clear.

A visual argument analysis essay main parts:

Introduction-where the author states their view on the issue,

Body –where they present evidence and give examples of this step is not necessary for the visual argument as it is already presented out in the open for you to see,

Conclusion –when the author makes their opinion clear and gives their reasoning behind this.

Visual argument analysis papers:

-based on the key data they contain.

-is the most commonly used technique for analyzing visual arguments as it is easy to understand and can usually be completed in a shorter time frame than other more complex methods such as semiotics.

To complete a successful visual argument analysis, you should not only analyze this in terms of its content but also consider how it was produced –who made it, where did they get their information from etc., as this will influence how convincing/effective an image is. Make sure you are aware of any processes that were involved in making the image (e.g images found on websites may have been edited by someone using special computer software) and that these do not alter what has been presented within them. When considering production values, it can also be helpful to consider the way an image was originally published and if this has changed between its original publishing date and when you are viewing it now. (For example a newspaper article/image may have been taken down from their website or replaced with something completely different.)

To complete a thorough visual argument analysis essay, you should always try include both positive and negative features within your essay (i.e things that support your argument as well as aspects that discount them)

Make sure the visual arguments you analyse are clear to understand –if necessary get someone else to explain them first so that you have a good understanding of what they will be about before trying to write about them yourself. This will save valuable time in the long -run when writing the actual essay as you will not have to keep going back and re-reading material or researching other sources for extra information on things that may be unclear. The examples of visual arguments given below are easy to understand –if they were not then it would be much harder to explain them within a formal academic paper.

In this way, you can decide if some visual arguments are clearly made than others and therefore whether or not they are successful in conveying meaning/information. If an image is very ambiguous with regards  to what actually is being shown then it may be more suitable for a different method of analysis (e.g semiotics).

Make sure you familiarize yourself with methods of analyzing images such as semiotics before attempting something more complex, as you do not want to risk your essay being rejected for using the wrong analytical method.

When considering what type of argument a visual piece is making, make sure that this is compatible with other arguments you have already written within your academic paper/essay.

For example if you have already analysed an argument which states that life can only be understood through science then it would not make sense to go on and analyze a different piece of work which argues against this in favour of something like religion or spirit worlds.

This will just contradict what you have previously said and could result in an unsatisfactory mark at the end of the course/module.

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