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A visual analysis essay is one that describes a particular image or visual display. It can focus on an item, a photograph or visual demonstration and it uses various literary tools to help fulfill this purpose. This paper deals primarily with identifying the various visual effects used by the artist or choreographer to assess their impact and function based on what the creator intended. Here are five free tips on how to organize a visual analysis essay:

  1. Formulate a thesis statement about the object under study

Thesis statements can be very helpful during an investigative or analytic task. They help guide the directions queries will take and also makes it easier to designate what the particular subject is from what it is not. In this particular venture, a thesis will help you to better organize your approach when making your observations of any particular item.

  • Observe the piece in detail recording your observations

    Take some time, then take some more time making every observation you can, from every conceivable angle. Art can be very misleading and different instances of observation can reveal different things that were not noticed before. I’m not over exaggerating when I say to take a large amount of time making observations.

  • Pay attention to every minute detail and brushstroke

    Some things that may be over looked by the average person are often most important to art enthusiasts and so you may even be required to take a preliminary course in the arts. The simplest aspect of a work of art can greatly influence the impact it has on the viewer both emotionally and technically.

  • Analyze each aspect objectively to discover its purpose

    A good way to go about your analysis is to proceed chronologically, from left to right or top to bottom, listing every detail as you come upon it, making small notes and points for each piece. This can be tedious but it is an important part of cataloging and identifying works of art and should be done with dedication and attention to detail.

  • Use facts and details from your observations to support your thesis.

    Your thesis will be one to be proven using evidence gathered from your observations and these observation should be visible by any viewer. After gathering and analyzing all of your data, use the information to support or refute your claim and state it in the final paragraph of your paper.

    How to Write a Visual Analysis Paper

    VirginiaLynne has been a University English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.

    Visual Analysis Essays

    – Are usually written for Art History, History or English courses.

    – Describe the image and discuss how the way it is put together (the composition).

    – Analyze the meaning of the image for the artist.

    – Consider the historical meaning of the image.

    – Evaluate the effectiveness of the image for today.

    Analyzing Meaning

    All images project ideas or claims. Advertisements generally make these claims openly and even tell you the claim in the text. Works of art may be more subtle but they usually are also trying to get the viewer to believe something. How can you analyze visual images? You look at:

    1. The purpose of the artist.
    2. The audience.
    3. The way the image was composed.
    4. The historical context when it was produced and when it is viewed.

    Introduction: Tell the basic facts about the art (see citing your image). Get the reader interested in the image by using one of the following methods:

    • Describe the image vividly so the reader can see it.
    • Tell about how the image was created.
    • Explain the purpose of the artist.
    • Give interesting facts about the art or artist.
    • Talk about a controversy or misunderstanding about the art.

    Thesis: Your thesis will tell the meaning of this image (see Analyzing the Meaning of the Image)

    Body: Support your thesis with three or more main ideas which support your meaning. Use questions in the pre-writing sections for ideas.

    Conclusion: Try to conclude rather than just repeating your thesis. Either give a final interesting fact or try one of the following:

    • Compare the reception of the painting by the audience who first saw it with your own ideas, or with the way people today might interpret the picture.
    • Speculate on what the artist would think about the way his picture has been viewed over time.
    • Compare this image to other similar images.
    • Suggest how this piece of art fits into the works of an artist, or the ad campaign of a company.

    What sort of image will you be analyzing for your Visual Analysis Paper?

    Student Paper Visual Analysis Sample: This is not a student from my class but I think the example is pretty well done and might be helpful. It is about Jeff Soto’s wood panel painting “Last Voyage”

    Visual Analysis of Botticelli: Another student paper which does a nice job with using the format of explaining how the historical period and life of the artist is related to the meaning of the painting as well as discussing the visual aspects.

    How to Describe Images

    Don’t have an art background? Don’t worry. You probably know a lot more than you realize. Modern people are surrounded by images every day.

    Everyone Can Analyze Images: Even if you don’t know the terms of how people analyze art, you will be familiar with many of the tricks that artists use to create a reaction in the reader, such as making the most important images larger and light, and the less important ones in the background or fading darker. You can also easily recognize symbolic colors, such as: red means emergency or blood or danger; green means safe and close to nature; and blue means cool and relaxed.

    Start by Looking Closely: Most Visual Analysis Papers will require a clear and vivid description of the image along with an analysis of the visual composition of the picture in order to explain how the artist put the image together to create meaning. Just describe the image you see and use the chart below to help you use the right terms.

    Trust Your Own Eyes: You may want to do your own study of the image before you actually research the history of the image, so that you can write out your own thoughts without being influenced by other people.

    Use Chart and Questions for Help: Start your visual analysis description by getting a good copy of the image and looking at it carefully. Look at the chart below and answer the key questions in order to help you see the different visual elements.

    Elements of Design

    Visual Elements of Design

    Principles of Design

    Analyzing Meaning

    Analyzing Meaning of Visual Images

    Although Visual Analysis Essays often focus a lot on the details of describing the image, you will also need a thesis which tells what the images mean. There are several ways to do this and your assignment may tell you which direction to go. Here are some typical ways to analyze images for meaning:

    • Analyzing the meaning of the image for the artist and his or her time.
    • Analyzing the meaning of the image for you and your time.
    • Analyzing the changes in the meaning of an image over the course of time.
    • Analyze the audience reaction to the image.
    • Analyze your own reaction and evaluate the effectiveness of the image.

    Pre-writing Questions

    Use the pre-writing questions below to help you analyze your images and start writing notes that will help you develop your paper ideas.

    1. Claims: What claims does the image make? What type of claim is it?

    • Fact Claim: Is it real?
    • Definition Claim: What does it mean?
    • Cause Claim: What is the Cause? What are the effects? How are these related?
    • Value Claim: How important is this? How should we evaluate it?
    • Policy Claim: What is the solution? What should we do about it?

    2. Visual Composition: How is the image arranged or composed? Which of the following aspects of composition help makes the claim? Examine:

    • Layout: where images are placed and what catches your attention. How visual lines draw your attention to or away from the focal point.
    • Balance: size of images and how they compare with one another. Is the focal point centered or offset?
    • Color: how color (or lack of color) draws your attention or creates a mood
    • Key figures: what is the main focus? How does this contribute to meaning?
    • Symbols: are there cultural symbols in the image? What do these mean?
    • Stereotypes : how does image support stereotypes or challenge them?
    • Exclusions: is there anything left out of the image that you expect to be there?

    3. Genre: What is the genre of this image? (examples: fine art, movie, advertisement, poster, pamphlet, news photograph, graphic art etc.). How does it follow the rules of that genre or break away from them? How does that affect the meaning of the image for the audience?

    4. Text: How does any text or caption work to provide meaning to the visual?

    5. Appeals: How does it appeal to the audience to believe the claims? Are appeals to logic? Emotion? Character? Authority? Are any of these appeals false or deceiving?

    6. Selling: Does the claim move into a sales pitch? Does it use a cultural value or common cultural symbol in a way that exploits that image?

    7. Story: What story does this image convey? How does this story help the claim or appeal to the audience?

    Examine Context and History

    To get ready to analyze the meaning of the image for the artist and the people viewing the art, it helps to first find out the rhetorical situation. That means you need to know what the artist was trying to do at that particular point in time, and how the audience reacted. Sometimes the reaction of the audience that first saw the piece is very different from the reaction you might have. If it is, that can make an interesting paper thesis.

    Analyzing Historical Photos

    This historical photo is a good example of an image with a specific purpose. The photo was taken by Fridtjof Nansen along with other photos of the Russian famine. The purpose of the photo was to raise money for Russian relief. The photo was published as part of a set of postcards which were sold to raise money and then sent to raise awareness of the problem in others.

    Since the text is in French, the Photograph was probably published to raise money from France and other French-speaking peoples. The text elucidates the image by saying the boys are feeding one another in the fatal final stages of hunger. It describes their skeletal limbs and swollen bellies as having come from eating grass, tree bark, straw, worms and dirt in order to survive.

    While the photo undoubtedly affected the original audience, the pathos of the image also speaks to an audience today who may be completely unaware of this famine. For viewers today, the image may bring to mind the many famines in other areas around the world, as well as images of Holocaust survivors.

    Pre-Writing for Visual Analysis Essay of Historical Context

    Answer the following questions to get ready to write an analysis of the image and the audience response. While each of the questions can have a single sentence answer, you can use that single sentence as the topic sentence of a paragraph and give examples and explanation to fill out that paragraph.

    1. Who is the artist?
    2. What is the purpose of this piece? Why did the artist create it?
    3. Who did the artist create the image for?
    4. What was going on at that time in art or in the culture that the artist was either reacting against or reflecting?
    5. How did the audience in that historical moment view this work?
    6. Where was it published? How would the image appeal to that audience?
    7. What was the reaction to this piece of art when it first appeared? Since then?
    8. Did the audience understand what the artist was trying to say with the image?How did the artist feel about the reaction of the audience?

    Citing Images Correctly

    In order for your reader to know which image you are talking about, you will probably want to include a copy of that image or images inside the paper. You will also need to make sure that in the first paragraph you include all of the information your reader needs to know, such as:

    • Title of the Image (underline or italics)
    • Artist’s name
    • Date of work
    • Where it was published or the name of museum or collection it is now in.
    • Medium: magazine advertisement, video, oil painting, marble sculpture, chalk drawing, pencil sketch, photograph (what type of image it is and what type of art medium was used)

    visual analysis essay rough draft – just viewed as an.

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    Unformatted text preview: just viewed as an object of which her assets are analyzed rather than her character. Societal roles have evolved throughout history for all types of people; whether it is according to your race, gender, political standing, or even sexual preference, roles in society present day have evolved and consistently continue to evolve for the future generation. Certain characters in society have had to undergo difficult situations presented to them because of what they appeared to be rather than who they were as humans, one of which being women. [include women’s rights and hardships throughout history in comparison to modern day women roles in society & how the ad portrays that; analyze it].

    How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay

    Any visual analysis essay that you might be confronted with is often required to describe a specific image or visual display. They aim to analyze an image, discuss it in details while explaining how its different components are put together. Typically such essays examine the subject matter of art and history. Their focal point can vary from a photograph, a visual demonstration or some everyday household item like a lamp. The means often used when explaining its purpose are various literary tools. We will further examine different means used to identify these visual effects used by the respective artist to gain a comprehensive understanding of their impact on society and whether this impact was what the creator had intended.

    Learn more about poetry analysis essay, litarary analysis essay, causal and process analysis, what are the similarities and differences between different types of analysis papers

    ##Contents * [Tips to Analyse the Meaning of Images](/blog/visual-analysis-essay/#analyse) * [Tips on How to Structure Your Visual Analysis Essay](/blog/visual-analysis-essay/#structure) * [Concluding your Visual Analysis Essay](/blog/visual-analysis-essay/#concluding)

    The possible topics for any visual analysis essay often vary and come in different dimensions. However, the most common involve concepts such as paintings, drawings, sculptures or architecture. When required to analyze a complex image, it is possible to study for example the given sculpture from multiple angles. Nevertheless, the critical consideration for a well-structured paper is to understand the basic concepts in the various images before taking a position. There have also been cases where one may conduct such an analysis on videos to show their implications in the past and impact on the present. All in all, a visual representation doesn’t need prior contact since it only requires the viewer’s fair interpretation to make an educated claim regarding its context.

    Amazing Tips when Trying to Analyse the Meaning of Visual Images

    Some of the key areas we suggest investigating are the purpose of the artist when he made this respective piece, the audience that this was intended for regardless of time period, the methods used to create it and how it was viewed in its historical context as well as how it is described now.

    In an attempt to help you save some money here are some free tips regarding visual composition tips that you might find very useful when confronted with writing any visual analysis essay. Initially one should examine how the image or art piece itself was composed and arranged. What is the message it is trying to send to us? One should also look at how the elements of the art piece support the initial thesis by studying the focal point, layout structure, symbolism, color usage, key figures, stereotypes and omissions.

    The focal point is where the center of attention is, a composition in how the image puts together different elements, the image’s color, its possible meanings, texture, as well as the shape and form. The focal point requires you to find what is the center point of the piece and where is it located, e.g. is right in the center or placed in a particular way for a reason? Layout structure is used to go into more depth as to why the subject matter of the piece was structured in such a manner? Does this particular layout support the symbolism being used or does it try taking our attention away from it? These are all questions one should have in mind when examining all these elements for their visual analysis essay.

    One of the best ways to keep the reader interested is by introducing him to the artwork and presenting some fun facts about the artist or the artwork. It should capture the reader’s attention by either describing the image, telling about its creation date and some events, highlighting its purpose or note a contradicting element. Most visual analysis essay writers prefer using controversial facts or strange misunderstandings regarding their assignments to keep the readers curious. Others have chosen to use comparison as their means to find common ground with the reader. Both options are worth exploring in our experience. Nonetheless, it is important to always remain relevant to the task at hand so that one may avoid getting side-tracked by adding too much information.

    Ideally in order to describe artwork as accurately as possible one would require a background in art appreciation. However, as previously mentioned due to us being exposed to so much visual imagery and special effects due to the internet, action movies and all sort of advertisements on TV we are accustomed to breaking down the meaning of things including hidden background messages. Following this train of thought it is clear that everyone is capable of analysing images, however it will generally be done without a large majority of the technical terms. Despite that fact one should still be able to point out the motifs of the painting through the use or colors, tones, different brushstrokes, significance in the painting, positioning in the painting, etc. All these motifs and symbolisms are meant to generate a reaction out of this audience in this case you and implicitly your readers.

    Citing the images used and those being assessed correctly is necessary as to avoid plagiarism while writing your visual analysis essay. No matter what topic is chosen it is vital to show us what you are going to talk about therefore letting the audience see what it is.

    Amazing Tips on How to Structure Your Visual Analysis Essay

    Introduction Methods for your Visual Analysis Essay

    Introduce us to the artist explaining his relevancy and that of this particular work. Let the readers know what people thought of him or her and their artwork in their time period. Keep in mind not to over list facts and keep it interesting by using controversial interpretations and opinions regarding your work.

    One of the best ways to start is to articulate a thesis statement about the object being analyzed. When defining your thesis we recommend you review the meaning of the image at the time for the artist as well as the audience, the meaning this artwork bears to you personally and to us as a modern society, examine the changes in public opinion this artwork has undergone throughout history, the explanations of why this particular artwork caused such reactions and lastly how well you think the image managed to portrayed what the artist intended it to portray.

    The reason for doing so is that it is quite helpful to have a clear reference point while researching the topic. It inherently allows one to create much narrower and specific guidelines to help separate the useful information from unnecessary or repetitive observations.

    For some it is best to express their personal opinion about a particular work first before researching it thoroughly as it will change their interpretation of the subject matter.

    According to what suits you best we always recommend assessing the work subjectively in order to note one’s personal observations. Do not hesitate to explore observing the image from all angles as this will often reveal things that were hidden before. Art has always been used to point out its motifs strange ways hence it is vital to explore all possible angles in order to find various clues that the artist has left for us.

    When it comes to paintings in particular do not forget to take note of the brushstrokes used within the respective work. They can belong to an extensive part of categories and often reflect something about the subject matter such as the class of a person in the painting due to the different brushstrokes used. That is why we continuously encourage revising all minute details to the bone as you can never know what you might discover.

    Judging from the previous point we understand that you might be thinking “What am I going to do? How will I recognize so many elements in such a short time?”. Do not worry there are many art enthusiast courses that will provide you with most if not all the necessary knowledge to create a thrilling visual analysis essay. The aspects of any art work that most average Joes miss are the components of the work that make it a piece of interest to the audience whether it be your professor, enthusiasts or even professionals. However, if you do not have the necessary time, funding or energy to go through such an ordeal we recommend using for a premium custom essay at more than affordable prices.

    After having understood your personal view of the subject matter it is crucial to analyse it and describe it in an objective manner in order to help discover the purpose the artist had in mind for it. Whether or not the work managed to create that impact is in part given by our original reaction to it since as the observers are part of the audience the masterpiece was intended for.

    We strongly recommend that your visual analysis essay follow a structured cataloguing of the elements found in the respective work of art. More often than not this is one of the most tedious processes in the entire assignment as one must proceed chronologically to list the respective elements either from the subject matter onward, top to bottom or left to right. It is important to make a note of why you have chosen to analyse it in this particular manner as it might affect the way it is perceived.

    Always use facts to support your observations regarding motifs. These are often found in the historical placing of the art piece as that will give lots of information about the symbolism being used and what it meant to people at the time. Explaining how we view this now compared to back then is often a good way to show how the interpretation of said artwork has evolved throughout time.

    Concluding your Visual Analysis Essay

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    A visual analysis essay is quite different from a normal essay. Essays in general are descriptive, reflective, argumentative, etc. But a visual analysis essay is different from these as in the visual analysis essay there is no given topic or research statement. Students are supposed to think on the topic and content of the essay by interpreting and analyzing the visual stimulus which might be in the form of a photograph, a portrait, a painting, a sculpture or any kind of artistic object that has some amount of graphical element in it. However, quite often students find it difficult to write such essays as they are not aware of the steps and methods involved in writing a visual analysis essay and as such, the common query they make is: “how to write a visual analysis essay?” This article is aimed at such students who find writing a visual analysis essay a challenging and daunting task.

    Steps in Writing a Visual Analysis Essay

    Before starting to write a visual analysis essay, you should carefully study the artwork for a good amount of time. This is the first and foremost step before writing a visual analysis essay. The study should be at first a causal one – looking at the overall tone, settings and moods of the character(s) or object(s) in the painting or picture/image. By doing so, some thoughts will naturally come to the mind, like the overall theme or message that the artist is trying to portray through his or her artwork, the background, the underlying themes, motifs or symbols, etc. When all the initial thoughts and ideas have been carefully noted down, you should now try to give more focus to the artwork as this time the aim of the scan will be to look into little and finer aspects of the artwork like texture, composition, hue, emotions, background, colours, borders, etc. By taking a second detailed look at the finer elements of the sample artwork, you will find it easier to join the missing gaps and other clues for making the overall essay. Some of the questions that you should ask yourself while looking at the artwork could be:

    • What is the object that the artwork is referring to? Is it animate or inanimate or a mixture of both?
    • What is the material used in making the artwork? Is it stone, wood, canvas, paper, etc.?
    • What is the form or structure of the artwork? Is it a sculpture, painting, image, portrait, etc.?
    • What was the approximate era or period when it was made?
    • What is the approximate era or time it refers to?
    • Is it representational in nature? If it is, then what exactly is being represented by the image, painting, drawing or sculpture?
    • What might be the reasons for the artist, painter to portray the artwork in that particular fashion?
    • What emotion does the artwork convey to the mind: colour, texture, tone, shape, space of the sculpture/painting?
    • What are the initial feelings that come to the mind after looking at the artwork?
    • What are the secondary thoughts that come to the mind on a second look at the artwork?
    • Do the initial and secondary feelings and thoughts correlate with each other or are they different from each other?
    • What is the overall theme, motif or symbol that the artwork is trying to convey to the reader?
    • Does the title of the artwork have any seemingly resemblance with the artwork or is it quite vague and abstract from the artwork?

    Structuring a Visual Analysis Essay

    After the artwork has been studied thoroughly and all the ideas have been exhausted, the next step is to write all these thoughts that have been accumulated in the mind in the previous steps. This is a basic outline that you should follow while trying to attempt to write a visual analysis essay.

    While structuring the essay, it is important that an appropriate thesis is chosen. The thesis is the first and foremost thing that should be kept in the mind while writing the essay, as it relates to the main idea(s) of the visual analysis essay. Another important thing that should be kept in mind while writing the essay is that the paragraphs should both be assertive as well as creative in nature. You should think and reflect on the artwork in a creative way in the initial few paragraphs of the essay. But the later paragraphs should solidify into a concrete statement, by becoming assertive and authoritative in nature. In the end a concluding paragraph should be made so that a proper conclusion is reached and a restatement of the thesis/essay title is clearly achieved.

    By following the above-mentioned steps, you will find writing a visual analysis essay an easier task to do.

    Most Frequently Asked Questions About Visual Analysis Paper Writing

    How to start a visual analysis paper

    The first step in writing a visual analysis paper is to review the piece of visual art carefully for a long period of time, ensuring you make note of all notable aspects such as the tone, characters, objects and setting. Record all your thoughts as this will be your guide to creating your visual analysis essay, as they will be the main points discussed. Next, you will want to write your essay starting with an introduction that explains your thesis statement for the art piece. This will be followed by the body of the essay, which explains your main points. The visual analysis paper can be concluded by summarizing the main points and giving your final opinion on the piece.

    How to write a visual analysis thesis statement

    The thesis statement explains what the visual means to you. This involves explaining aspects such as:

    • What the visual meant to the artist compared to what it means to you.
    • What the visual meant in the time it was done compared to what it may mean now in the present day.
    • Any changes to the meaning of the visual that may have occurred over time.
    • Possible reaction of audiences and also your reactions and feelings towards the piece.

    How to write a visual argument analysis essay

    When writing a visual argument analysis essay, follow these steps:

    • Examine the visual carefully and thoroughly.
    • Document details such as the artist, when it was created, any characters or objects in the visual, background setting, colors used, type of materials used, etc.
    • Use the information you documented to form your visual analysis piece. These can be used throughout the introduction and body of the essay.
    • Be sure to include your interpretation of the piece and give reasons for your opinion. Before you conclude, ensure that you have properly evaluated the piece and given sufficient arguments on what was seen and interpreted.
    • End the visual analysis paper with a summary of the main points and your final thoughts on the evaluation of the piece.

    How to write a visual analysis of an artwork

    When writing a visual analysis of an artwork, you will need to describe elements such as the lines, shapes, colors and forms in the piece. Next, you will want to evaluate how they are put together, ensuring a comment on the symmetry, balance, proportion, scale and rhythm of the piece.

    How to write a visual analysis of a painting

    In order to analyze a painting, you must record the artist’s name, title of the piece, date the painting was created, medium used, size and the stylistic period. Following this you will need to describe the subject, theme, content, background and ideas ascertained from the piece. Other points that you will need to review and comment on are the focal points, geometric shapes, symmetry and depths of the piece.

    How to write a visual analysis of a sculpture

    When analyzing a sculpture, you will need to review and document the following:

    • Sculpture details – artist’s name, title of the piece, where it was made, when it was made, dimensions of the piece, ensuring that you state the height of it first and the material used to make it.
    • Subject matter – determine whether the piece is abstract or representational, explaining reasons of your opinion, and give details on the characterization of the piece.
    • Other observations to include content, lighting, color, lines/contouring, space and depth.

    How to write a visual analysis of a photograph

    Analyzing a photograph is similar to analyzing many types of visual images. You will need to look at and comment on the age, dimensions, lighting, color, lines and texture of the picture. In addition, you should make note of any emotions the photograph evokes and any opinions you have on what is in the picture.

    How to write a visual analysis of a political cartoon

    Cartoonists are expressive persons who use visuals to send their messages. When evaluating a political cartoon, you need to assess the following points:

    • Symbols may be used to represent a main point, issue or idea and it is your responsibility to decipher what the artist means.
    • Exaggeration is done when they emphasize a physical feature of a character or thing to make a point.
    • Labelling is done to ensure that their point is clearly made.
    • An analogy is used to compare a complex issue with a more familiar one to help explain it to the audience or help them see it from a different viewpoint.
    • Irony is often used to explain their view on a subject matter.

    When you have assessed these points, you will need to determine what the issue is and the opinion of the cartoonist. You can then determine whether or not it was a persuasive cartoon and express your thoughts and opinions on it.

    How to write a visual analysis paper on an advertisement

    Analyzing an advertisement requires you to do the following:

    • Introduce the ad by stating the product or service being advertised.
    • Give background information on the ad, and maybe a competing ad, making sure to state the medium (TV, radio or press).
    • State the target audience it is aimed at, the reaction of the persons to the ad and end with your own thoughts on it.

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    How To Write A Visual Analysis Essay

    Visual analysis essay writing

    The main goal of writing a visual analysis essay is to break down the different elements that is projected by the visual component of any topic or subject. Your visual analysis essay should convey an understanding or an opinion to what such elements are communicating to its audience and an idea of its purpose. It is one of the most interesting forms of a written essay because it judges visual elements rather than words and ideas. It demands a certain degree of imagination from the writer and can be quite an enjoyable thing to do.

    Visual texts include things you see every day, such as:

    Unlike other essays, a visual analysis will focus upon a subject’s visual elements and how it’s rhetorical situation is configured. These include audience, purpose and context (or circumstances).

    The rhetorical situation

    Whether visual or verbal, you might investigate a text’s rhetorical situation by asking journalistic questions (the who, what, when, where, how, and why) about its audience, purpose, and context.

    Let’s consider UAB’s website, as an example:

    1. Who is the website’s audience? In other words, who might come to the website?
    2. What is its purpose? In other words, why might someone come to the website?
    3. What is its context or environment? In other words, where, when, and how might someone visit the website?

    Steps to Writing your Visual Analysis Paper

    There is not one ultimate form to writing an essay, but there are some guidelines that you can follow. These 3 general steps serve as foundation to writing a good visual analysis paper as you develop your ideas on your writing:

    1. Describing the Subject

    Many people overlook this step, but simply describing a visual text is an important part of the process. Trying to analyze a text without being able to first describe it would be like trying to analyze an article without being able to first summarize it.

    The act of describing the visual component of the topic is one of the most important steps in making a visual analysis essay. It gives a definition of your subject and gives the reader a clearer picture/idea of what you are trying to portray.

    When you describe a visual text, you might look at:

    • Objects and shapes
    • Colors and shading
    • Foreground and background
    • People and places
    • Arrangement of elements on page

    2. Responding to the Subject

    Responding means you are drawing a reaction from a deeper part of you. In making a response, here are some useful questions that can incite your feeling.

    When you look at a visual text, think about:

    • What’s your initial gut reaction?
    • How does the subject make you feel?
    • What does the text make you think?
    • Does the text make you want to do something?
    • Does the text remind you of anything I’ve seen, heard, or read about before?

    3. Analyzing the Subject

    Beyond the description and response is the integration within your analysis. This will show how the topic’s different elements convey meaning and accomplish purpose. This is where you are going to apply your knowledge of the rhetoric situation. Analyze the audience, purpose and context of the subject.

    How does the audience see it? What is its impact? What was the purpose of the artist and how did he portray it in his work? What is the context of the production of the visual material?

    4. Creating your thesis

    Making your thesis statement for a visual essay should depend upon your specific assignment, purpose, and subject you are analyzing. Make sure that it contains your main idea that surrounds your general understanding of the visual subject. This is where your whole essay will revolve on.

    Making the introduction for your essay

    The best tip on how to write a visual analysis essay is to create a good introduction which would present your subject to the reader and provide a concise overview of your essay. In your introduction, you are making the reader understand how you accomplished visual analyzing.

    5. Organizing your analysis

    You have many options for organizing your visual analysis (and, again, what you choose will depend on your specific situation). Below are some general options for organizing the body of your paper. Please keep in mind that these are only a few options for a structure of visual analysis.

    Spatial: The structure of your paper follows the way your eyes follow a visual text, generally from left to right or from most to least prominent parts.

    Elements: Each section or body paragraph focuses on an element of the text, such as color, images, etc.

    Rhetorical appeals: The paper’s sections are divided into the three appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos.

    Rhetorical situation: The paper’s sections are divided into the elements of the rhetorical situation: audience, purpose, and context.

    Visual Analysis of Davis's Photograph Essays

    There is an extreme depth of field created by Davis within the photograph that washes everything past the foreground into a blurred ambiguity. The farther back one looks into the space created by the image, the more difficult it becomes to determine what is being observed. The foreground focus becomes the metaphorical equivalent of the relative clarity of recent memories, just as the blurred background is equated with the more distant past. This depth of field creates a sensation of time as the background of the image recesses and eventually degrades beyond readability. The image evokes an ephemeral quality—the depth of field combined with the reflective surfaces causes the image to feel insubstantial. The temporary moment that was captured on film is a remnant of a fleeting memory.

    The photograph is severely cropped which presents the image as a fragment instead of a whole scene. This lack of wholeness within the photograph becomes another layer to the metaphor of memory that reverberates throughout the image. Memory often arrives in one’s thoughts in the form of fragments that must then be pieced together. The viewer of the photograph must rely on the little information that Davis did not crop out, just as a person must rely on the attainable information in

    Visual Analysis of Davis's Photograph Essays

    memories over time is a constant process that cannot be stopped. This inevitable passing of memory is fused to the inevitable passing of human life. Emily Davis’s still life photograph of wineglasses is reflective and fragmented, allowing the image to act as a metaphor for this fleeting aspect of memory through its own memory-like qualities. The photograph is also symbolic of the transience of human life through the use of the traditional symbol of the wineglass, ultimately serving as memento mori. The…

    Visual Analysis of the Hall of Supreme Harmony

    represents Earth. The hall is parallel to all other halls in the outer court and the building is linear with geometric shapes. The building of this hall compared to the western architectures is considered flat, which Chinese architecture stresses on the visual impact of the width of the buildings rather than depth.3 The ancient Chinese philosophies play a role in the setting of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The hall is symmetrically divided with the stairs and all other palaces are parallel to the central…

    Visual Analysis Paper

    Visual Analysis Paper This is an anti-smoking advertisement geared towards parents of young children. The advertisement is overall plain and simple; it gets straight to the point when you look at it and utilizes a dark theme. This anti-smoking advertisement is trying to evoke a sense of “parental guilt” into parents who smoke. The way the advertisement is able to do this is through the use of an optical illusion, use of text and the use of negative space. The first way the advertisement tries…

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    This photograph, taken in 1967 in the heart of the Vietnam War Protests, depicts different ideologies about how problems can be solved. In the picture, which narrowly missed winning the Pulitzer Prize, a teen is seen poking carnations into the barrels of guns held by members of the US National Guard. This moment, captured by photographer Bernie Boston symbolizes the flower power movement. Flower power is a phrase that referred to the hippie notion of “make love not war”, and the idea that love and…

    Visual Rhetorical Analysis: Into the Wild Essay

    Name: Lu Seng Chuin ENGL250 FD Visual Rhetorical Analysis: Into The Wild (Rough Draft) The movie “Into The Wild” is a true story depicts the desperation of a young Emory graduate, Christopher Johnson McCandless, to flee from the invisible binding of societal pressure and family problems; and worked his way through the unusual journey to Alaskan. The story began with his college graduation and inner frustration to his broken family, then proceeds through a series of events full with…

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    Karen Ibrahim ARH131 – Q Joel Hollander 3/2/15 Visual Analysis Paper The Dark Age of Greece refers to a period of time where all knowledge of Mycenae construction, painting, sculpture, reading and writing disintegrated due to Dorian invasion. One form of art that continued through the period of the Mycenaean downfall was the art of pottery. Pottery, more specifically vase painting, was the beginning of an illustrative development in Greek art and was considered a durable form of art because it…

    Analysis of Various Photographs

    This paper provides an analysis of various photographs based on their categories, effectiveness, and historical movements. The three concepts of analysis are important when examining photographs, as they provide a strong basis for evaluation. The analytical process begins with category placements and end with contextual and historical movement evaluations as one considers the application of time, space, and the intended message of the six photographs. Photography goes beyond the automatic recordings…

    Essay on The Renaissance: Visual Analysis

    High Renaissance Visual Analysis Introduction Generally believed to have begun in Florence, the Renaissance – also known as the ‘Rebirth’ – was a period of reviving interest in classical art and the beginning of scientific revolution. The Renaissance period did not begin abruptly; instead, it was an idea that took shape since the time of the painter Giotto (Gombrich 2007). In the early Renaissance period, Giotto experimented with and laid the foundation for painting with perspective, a method…

    Rhetorical Visual Analysis of Chanel Advertisement Essay

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    Organizing Your Analysis

    This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

    Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli

    There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.


    Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

    1. Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
    2. Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
    3. If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
    4. Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.

    Thesis Statements and Focus

    Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

    1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

    The website for provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

    2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

    The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

    3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

    A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

    These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

    Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

    Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).

    This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

    Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.

    A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

    • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
    • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
    • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
    • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

    The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.

    The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.

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