You are on page 1of 34

What is Visual communication?

Visuals, such as pictures, drawings, charts, graphs and diagrams, can be effective tools for
communicating health information. Visuals can make the presentation of complex information
easier to comprehend, more attractive, and can also reinforce written or spoken health
Visual communication can benefit all audiences, but can be especially helpful to individuals
with lower literacy and numeracy skills. Remember, though, that visuals cant speak for
themselves. People can interpret visuals, just as they do words, in different ways. Choose
visuals that support the main message and have clear headings, labels, and captions.
In visual communication the design information is mainly communicated by visual language,
the correct use of which is the standard of evaluation of a graphic design composition.
Therefore it is necessary to understand and percept visual language properly. It will be helpful
for viewers to percept the desired information from the designer as well as the significance
within the work.
Visual communication, as a visual way of art design in social life, is the presentation of
information by visual recognition and it is also the most commonly used way with the longest
history for human beings.
In nowadays communications of mankind can be divided into two aspects: direct
communication between people with languages, words, gestures and so on; indirect
communication between people via objects which are very popular and typical in logo,
advertising, illustration, product design and packing etc. the latter forms a different way to
communicate each other. That is visual language.
Visual language is a sound set of principles and elements of design which carry meanings.
Certain arrangements of words, symbols, hues, values etc, the base of design, have certain
significance, which forms visual language and has impact to people. All kinds of information
are carried with the movement and change of the design order, direction, illusion, psychological
implication. Visual language is an effective tool to indicate ones attitude, behavior, or even
cultural preference.

Role of Visual Language in Visual Communication:

In nowadays communications of mankind can be divided into two aspects: direct
communication between people with languages, words, gestures and so on; indirect
communication between people via objects which are very popular and typical in logo,
advertising, illustration, product design and packing etc. the latter forms a different way to
communicate each other. That is visual language.
Visual language is a sound set of principles and elements of design which carry meanings.
Certain arrangements of words, symbols, hues, values etc., the base of design, have certain
significance, which forms visual language and has impact to people. All kinds of information
are carried with the movement and change of the design order, direction, illusion, psychological
implication. Visual language is an effective tool to indicate ones attitude, behavior, or even
cultural preference.
In communication theories, communication occurs through verbal symbols and non-verbal
symbols. The former mainly refers to languages and words while the latter includes music,
dance, drawing, architecture and even body language such as gestures. They both are for the
presentation of emotion and perception. Samovar, an American expert in semantics, indicates
that words are symbols, of course. They are not the thing itself for it is a non-acute system.
People from different places and cultural background will have different perception and
imagery about one thing when it is described via words. However, pictures are able to present
things in a relatively clear way. In this case, visual language becomes one of the most important
ways to communicate between people. Visual language is largely recognizable due to its
popularity. People from all walks of life are able to percept the significance of this kind of
language in their own way. It is the designers duty to look for the correct visual language
adherence to some significance. Moreover, the language should be of creation and cultural
Presentation of visual language:
Emotion is defined as response to things and people via gestures and expression due to
psychological instinct. The emotional presentation of visual language, with the fundament of
visual physics and mentality, is the combination and arrangement of elements of design such
as pattern, hue, words etc. Since visual language is impressively varied, it is possible to have
different emotional experience.

Forms can greatly be influenced by psychology. A rectangular form, for example, stays put in
relation to gravity, and are not likely to tip over. A triangle with upside down suggests
instability. Form itself means strong plenty. Lines communicate a feeling of delight. Rectilinear
lines suggest speed, while curved lines suggest comfort, safety, familiarity.
All these elements bring people different emotions. The combination of point, line and form
suggest passion, nervousness, comfort, relaxation etc, which are the fundament of visual
communication. Objects, as material for graphic design, keep images in our convention instead
of a single significance. They will have new meanings with different backgrounds. Forms and
shapes can be thought of as positive or negative. In a two dimensional composition, the objects
constitute the positive forms, while the background is the negative space. It is difficult to ignore
the background and treat it as merely empty space. The effective placement of objects in
relation to the surrounding negative space is essential for success in composition.
Color is one of the most powerful of elements. It has tremendous expressive qualities as well
as forms and shapes. Understanding the uses of color is crucial to effective composition in
design and the fine arts. Hue has priority to other elements in visual design. Color illusion, as
an important element, can directly suggest information which is not available via non-verbal
and form symbols. Color arrangements are very powerful and have enormous impact on our
responses to color. It is unsuitable to have cool color as background when advertising a warmair device. It brings coldness to viewers who will have wrong impression for the new product.
In this case, the advertisement will have no effect.
Hue, as presentation of culture, carries certain meaning even takes place of verbal symbols in
certain circumstances. Non-verbal cues function via stimulating passion and emotion beyond
verbal symbols. Culture significance in hue has something to do with the tradition and
convention of a country and nationality. Certain colors are related to certain situations, which
grow from regional culture. Korea fashion, for example, is recognizable in traditional Korean
garments. Lightness and color are combined in their design, which form strong visual impact
and impression.
Although it must be visual when emphasizing visual communication due to our impressive
convention of languages and words, we have no reason to ignore the importance of written
design, especially the literalness format in printing. A writing format in printing within visual
communication is crucial to the success of a composition. Visual tendency in a writing format
has great deal to do with psychological physics and mental circumstances. Variations of

combination of point, line, form, pattern, hue and the way in which these elements are
combined have different functions respectively.
Format design is the orderly and personally combination and arrangements of elements to carry
information. It will have quality of aesthetics and economy as well as spiritual value. Different
format design, placement of patterns and selection of media avenue are used in visual language
and communication. Visual tendency in the center, horizontal and vertical line on the page
suggest plenty of attraction and impact with graceful symmetry, while visual tendency with
round edges means stability, inside power and weak aggressiveness. Meanwhile, the impact of
forms with smooth edges also has something to do with the concrete shape. Circle and triangle
outline supply different inside power and specialties. Forms and shapes with uneasy edges are
of impact, random and personal. Shapes with open visual format have less attention and control
and more separate and aggressiveness, which occupy large space. Relatively, shapes with close
form are easy to recognize. The density of writing is visual with change and variation.
Font, as a tool of graphic design, is of importance in application. Variation of font suggests
different functions. Some font indicates humor, while some means reverence. Also we can
recognize weakness and power in font. Human impression can be found in font. A post with a
serious content, for example, is not able to carry the information of reverence and power and
becomes meaningless if round font is used. A composition has strong visual effect and emotion
with the arrangement of large and small font.

Elements of Visual Communication

This brief tutorial introduces the foundational elements of visual communication. The emphasis
is on techniques to graphically communicate (A) hierarchy, (B) grouping and (C) sequence
three concepts that are critical for designing effective figures, posters, and slides.
Here is an overview of the strategy:

Position, color, size, shape, and orientation are variables applied to individual graphic
elements. Graphic elements are the units of information that go into making a figure, slide, or
poster. These include photos, icons, paragraphs of text, and titles.

Next, the graphic elements are combined into compositions where contrast, repetition,
proximity, and alignment, defined below, are created. A figure, poster, or slide is a composition
of individual graphic elements.
Contrast: Elements have noticeably different visual characteristics then others in the
composition. Created using the variables of color, size, shape, orientation.
Repetition: Elements have consistent visual characteristics within the composition. Created
using color, size, shape, and orientation.

Alignment: Elements have been arranged to create an imaginary line within the composition.
Uses the variable of position.
Proximity: Elements are close together within the space of a composition. Uses the variable
of position.

By wisely using visual variables and creating contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity
within the composition, you can communicate to the viewer the relationships among the
elements of your composition. Clearly establishing hierarchy, grouping, and sequence through
visual methods allows the viewer to quickly understand how the pieces of information in your
figure, slide, or poster relate to each otherand therefore to more quickly understand the
information itself.
Hierarchy: A dominant-subordinate relationship among elements.
Grouping: A relationship that specifies the elements to be associated together.
Sequence: A relationship among elements that specifies first, second, third
As you examine the examples in the figure below, consider which of the compositions would
communicate differently if it was turned on its side or upside down. In the top row (the four

compositions demonstrating hierarchy), the first three compositions could be turned without
changing what is communicated. But the fourth could not because it relies on the variable of
position to communicate hierarchy. Using position as a way to communicate hierarchy works
because we associate dominance in a hierarchy with the physical position of being above or
at the top. Similarly, how we interpret a sequence (demonstrated in the last row) relies on
position, following convention of reading English from left-to-right and top-to-bottom.

Now that you have seen these principles of visual communication demonstrated using simple
shapes and without any context, it is time to apply this thinking to a real design. Below is a
flyer I designed for a visual communication workshop.

First, identify all the uses of alignment. Which of these alignments simply serve to give the
poster a tidy appearance, and which have a role in helping to communicate the information in
the poster?
I chose to use two fonts are used in the flyer (Trajan Pro toward the top, Gill Sans at the bottom).
Where is contrast used in the typography? Where is repetition used? What purposes do they
Next, describe how hierarchy, grouping, and sequence were created within the flyer:
Finally, here are some tips to help you avoid common mistakes in your designs:

You must create a clear hierarchy within the composition so that the viewer knows what
is most important and where they should initially focus their attention. If you try to
emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing.

If you have created contrast, the viewer expects the contrast to mean something.
Therefore, if you have several elements in a composition that are similar, keep them
visually consistent. Dont choose different colors for each one simply because your
software makes it easy to do so.

Use alignment within your composition wherever it makes sense. Sometimes this
alignment helps to communicate with the viewer (for example, these are a group,
these are a sequence). Other times it simply helps to reduce visual clutter, so the
viewer can more easily direct his or her attention to elements of importance.

Limit your color palette and use highly saturated colors sparingly. As you can see in
the examples I provided, color is a powerful way to attract attention to individual
elements. But when used carelessly it is a way to overwhelm and confuse your viewer.

Meaning of visual communication

The communication which is done through sight is called visual communication. Such as facial
expression, gesture, eye contact, signals, map, chart, poster etc. it also includes graphic design,
illustration and animation, books, print, magazines, screen-based media, interactive web
design, short film, design for advertising, promotion, corporate identity and packaging design

Visual presentation of information and data is having an increasing impact on our practical life.
In spite of having impact on our life, visual communication is not alone sufficient for
exchanging information. For example to indicate danger we use red sign, to indicate no
smoking; we use an image showing a lighted cigarette with across mark on it etc.
So, visual communication is a communication where the ideas and information can be read or
viewed through the means of visual aid.

Advantages of visual communication:

Now-a-days, most of the business organizations are using visual techniques to present the
information. It is becoming very popular day by day. Visual presentation is beneficial for many
reasons. Some of them are as follows:
Effective for illiterate receiver: If the receivers are illiterate, the visual communication will
be more effective to exchange information. They can easily understand the information that is
presented visually.
Helps in oral communication: Visual techniques can be used with oral communication. Oral
communication becomes more meaningful if graphs, pictures and diagrams are used with it.
Easy explanation: Everyone can explain the meaning of it very easily. Easy explanation has
made the visual techniques more popular.
Simple presentation: Complex information, data and figures can be easily presented very
simply on graphs, pictures and diagrams.
Prevents wastage of time: Visual techniques help to prevent the wastage of time. Written and
oral communication takes much time to exchange information. But number of receivers can be
communicated at a time through visual methods.
Helps in quick decision: Visual communication helps to take quick decision. So management
prefers visual techniques to communicate with others.
Popular: Visual communication is very much popular because people do not like much speech
and long explanation rather than a chart of a diagram.
Others: Artful presentation, Ads impact to the information, quicker understanding.

Disadvantages of visual communication:

There are some limitations of visual communication as follows:

Costly: The visual methods of communication are more costly than those of other methods. To
draw maps, charts, diagram is costly. That is why only large company or organization can use
this technique.
Complex presentation: Sometimes visual presentation of information becomes complex. The
receivers cannot understand the meaning of the presentation.
Incomplete method: This technique is considered as an incomplete method. Visual
presentation is not sufficient to communicate effectively and clearly but also it can be
successfully used with oral communication.
Wastage of time: Sometimes visual techniques take much time to communicate. Whereas oral
communication takes no time to exchange information.
Difficult to understand: Difficult to understand and requires a lot of repetitions in visual
communication. Since it uses gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, touch etc. for
communicating with others which may not be understandable for the simple and foolish people.
Problem for general readers: General people are not prefers to communicate through visual
communication with others. Sometimes it cannot create an impression upon people or listeners.
It is less influential and cannot be used everywhere.
Others: Ambiguity, situational problem, delays in taking decision.
VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Visual Communication is the language of visual perception
and visual expression. It is visualisation of pictures in the minds eye or the naked eye, which
are transported to the unconscious mind. It enables vision as well as envisioning.
Tools: Visual Communication uses visual media such as graphics, painting, photography,
movie, multimedia, etc., to transport content. Visual Communication is also expressed
physically; for example the deaf use, sign language as a communication medium, which is also
a kind of Visual Communication.
Methods of Visual Communication
1.Image formation: A picture consists of different image planes: foreground, background,
lower and upper areas, left and right sides, center and all visible sectors along the perspective

from the fore- to the background. Every position has a special meaning for the pictures
expression and also the viewers.
2. Art work: Every picture is designed with relation to its specific content. Presentation and
position define the importance of the objects and people shown. The interaction of dimension,
color, focus, presentation (foreground, background, etc.) gives persons and objects their special
3. Picture language: Pictures or series of pictures tell stories and communicate different
contents. Picture language can have a documentary character if it is transported, for example,
with media such as photography or movies; it can also have a symbolic or abstract expression
if media such as painting, collage, or graphics are used.
4. Facial expression, gesture, body language: The oldest and most widespread expression of
Visual Communication is body language. The facial expression transports our emotional
condition, our wants and needs, and gives our speech special meaning. Gesture defines our
individual style of communication, underlines the dynamic of our storytelling and visualizes
situations with the body. Second, some gesture is part of collective understanding.
5. Image analysis: Image analysis consists of image formation, artwork, and picture language.
It describes and interprets the individual and cultural expression and effectiveness of visual
presentations. In addition to this knowledge, results of analysis are also influenced by
individual knowledge and experiences that are reflected based on previously learned methods.

Examples and practice

Methods of Visual Communication encourage individual competence in perception and
expression. These situations allow for a calculated analysis and assessment of your own
capacity, for a better qualification of your position in professional and private life and for
coherency of cultural and social expressions.
Visual Communication exists throughout our professional and private life. This is useful
whether we are creating a layout or using body language to make our wants understood by a
person with a different cultural background. In these situations and projects, we try to use all
of our faculties and knowledge of the methods and media of Visual Communication.
In marketing and public relations, Visual Communication is implemented in media such as
graphics, photography, or movies. In educational, psychological, and psychotherapeutic jobs,

it is used in visual media and body language. The sciences take great interest in image analysis,
whereas in creative and cultural professions, the many possible practices for image production
are much more important.
Fundamental knowledge of the practice and possibilities of Visual Communication opens new
perspectives and through an expansion of individual perception and consciousness, enhances
chances of career or private development, among others. Even when we close our eyes, we see
images that influence our minds; knowing more about our style of communication means
knowing more about our self. In Scandinavian countries, methods of Visual Communication
are included in different professional areas in order to emphasize the importance of individual
perception and expression for better understanding.
There exists a culture within the culture and this is your individual expression of

The elements of design are the building blocks used to create a layout whether its an ad,
poster, brochure, report, web page, social media share graphic, poster, etc. They consist of the
following, and Ill go through them one by one, with examples:
LINE-The fundamental characteristic of a line is to connect or unite elements on a page,
indicating movement or direction. Whether straight or curved, a line leads your eye somewhere
across the page, making lines inherently dynamic.
COLOR- Color is used to generate emotions, define importance, create visual interest and unify
branding. Color theory can be very complex so Ill just touch upon a few key points. The color
wheel starts with primary colors blue, yellow, red the only colors you cant create. If you
mix each of these with an equal amount of the color next to it (for example, blue + yellow),
youll get secondary colors (for example blue + yellow = green). Colors are thought to invoke

emotions; for example, red means strength, fire, power; while green means organic, nature,
health. If youre not sure where to begin to choose colors for a design project, heres 3 ideas:
Does the organization have branded colors? Start there if they do, then you can always add a
highlight or secondary color if the range isnt enough. Sample colors from a photo thats also
in the layout (Photoshop for example has an eyedropper tool). Adobe has a web-based color
tool that lets you create and explore palettes.
SHAPE- The form of shapes in a layout can determine its mood and message. Curved, rounded
shapes are perceived differently than sharp, angled shapes. Circles, ovals and ellipses tend to
project a positive emotional canal message such as community, friendship, love, relationships
and unity. Straight edged shapes such as squares and triangles suggest stability, balance,
strength, professionalism and efficiency.
SCALE-In graphic design, Scale (or size) is used to convey importance, attract attention, and
create contrast. Scale is the size of design elements in comparison to other elements in a layout.
Changes in scale help create visual contrast, movement, and depth, as well as express
hierarchies of importance. For example, type is used as a graphic element on an enormous scale
on the side of this theater in NJ. (credit: Paula Scher)
SPACE- Whitespace in a design is important, as it gives a place for the eye to rest and time for
your reader absorb the message youre trying to communicate. For example,, a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khol Vinh has
tons of white space.
You generally wont hear many complaints about a design having too much whitespace. Many
new to design will attempt to fill every last bit of space with color or graphics or content. More
experienced designers will encourage you to use more space and not try to fill up every little
bit.Whitespace is also called negative space when its the space left between shapes, and can
be used in clever ways, such as the famous hidden arrow in the FedEx logo.
Clever design creates a smile in the mind, which is also a book by that name by Beryl
McAlhone. To see many more examples of clever thinking in design, check out the Pinterest
Graphic design has the power to:
inspire action

inspire involvement
inspire engagement and giving
create awareness
Visual communication is an important aspect of any nonprofits brand, and good design should
be reflected throughout an organizations suite of marketing materials. To learn more about
Stone Soup Creative, contact Julia Reich.
A line represents a "path" between two points. A line can be straight, curved, vertical,
horizontal, diagonal, or zigzag. Lines imply motion and suggest direction or orientation. A line
can also be implied, that is filled in by the mind when several points are positioned
geometrically within a frame. Placing four dots on a page in the shape of a square can imply
the points are linked as the mind searches for recognizable patterns. The direction and
orientation of a line can also imply certain feelings. Horizontal lines imply tranquility and rest,
whereas vertical lines imply power and strength. Oblique lines imply movement, action and
change. Curved lines or S shaped lines imply quiet, calm and sensual feelings. Lines that
converge imply depth, scale and distance - a fence or roadway converges into the distance
provides the illusion that a flat two-dimensional image has three-dimensional depth. A line is
an effective element of design because it can lead the viewer's eye. To create more effective
photographs actively look for lines and arrange them within your viewfinder to invoke specific
Shapes are the result of closed lines. However shapes can be visible without lines when an
artist establishes a color area or an arrangement of objects within the camera's viewfinder.
Some primary shapes include circles, squares, triangles and hexagons all of which appear in
nature in some form or another. Space is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive
space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around shapes and
forms. For images to have a sense of balance positive and negative space can be used to counter
balance each other.
Form - Light & Dark

Form refers to the three-dimensional quality of an object, which is due in part to light, and dark
areas. When light from a single direction (e.g. our sun) hits an object, part of the object is in
shadow. Light and dark areas within an image provide contrast that can suggest volume.
Factors that can affect our feelings towards an image include the direction of the light source,
from above or below, and the gentleness or abruptness of the half tones. Light coming from
behind a subject can form a silhouette resulting in object that is completely black against a
lighter colored background. Silhouettes appear as two-dimensional shapes lacking form. The
absence of color often enhances our perception of form for instance in black and white
photographs. Light emitted from above and to the side when applied to portraits creates what
is often referred to as "Rembrandt lighting". This form of lighting emphasizes edges and depth.
In landscape photography oblique lighting occurs early and late in the day where it enhances
the natural texture of the landscape and is often accompanied by warm or cool color casts.
There has been a tremendous amount of research on how color affects human beings and some
of this research suggests that men and women may respond to colors differently. Color affects
us emotionally, with different colors evoking different emotions. In short color has the capacity
to affect the human nervous system.
The vocabulary of color includes:
Hue: refers to the names of the primary colors, red, green and blue.
Value: lightness and darkness of the color - the amount of white or black added.
Intensity: the purity or saturation of the color
Monochromatic color: use of one color where only the value of the color changes
Analogous colors: colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, e.g. yellow and
green. Analogous colors next to each other on the color wheel "get along" and are referred to
as being harmonious. Analogous colors are often used in visual design and have a soothing
Complementary colors: colors opposite to each other on the color wheel, e.g. Blue-violet and
yellow, represent colors positioned across from each other on the color wheel. Complimentary
colors exhibit more contrast when positioned adjacent to each other -for example yellow
appears more intense when positioned on or beside blue or violet (see picture below).

In the photograph above - green and yellow are analogous colors that harmonize where as the
violet color of the shooting stars appears more intense against a complementary colored
Warm colors include: yellows, red and orange we associate these with blood, sun and fire.
Cool colors include: violet, blue and green because of our association with snow and ice.
Colors are called warm or cool because of our association with various elements in our
surroundings. Red, yellow and orange are considered warm colors whereas blue, green and
violet are considered cool colors. These contrasts are relative since yellow-green are cool next
to red, orange or yellow, but would be considered warm next to blue-violet. Photographers can
position different colors in an image to maximize contrast between them and also to provide
perspective. Perceptually, cool colors tend to recede into the distance whereas warm colors
appear to advance (see image below).

Texture refers to the surface quality or "feel" of an object - smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures
may be actual (felt with touch - tactile) or implied (suggested by the way an artist has created
the work of art -visual). Texture is often emphasized in oblique lighting as it strikes the objects
from one side.

Organizing the various elements within the frame of the viewfinder in order to create an
effective design is more challenging than it might seem at first. A painter can position the
elements where they want, whereas a photographer must search, find and organize visual
elements within the camera viewfinder. Although a photographer can sometimes "arrange"
objects in a natural environment such as leaves, this often results in a contrived looking picture.
Nature is not perfect and variation within organization leads to greater interest. Effective
composition of natural images is always a balance between arranging elements within the view
finder and allowing a certain amount of disorder.
The decision-making processes we make when taking a photograph starts first with being able
to see possibilities. What we see depends on what we are interested in, what we are looking for

and what our minds are prepared to show us. Seeing, in short, involves the mind and our
memory as much as it does our eyes. Improving our visual sensitivity requires quieting our
minds, relaxing, and preparing by learning as much as we can about our preferred subjects.
Once we see things that are of interest, then we need to isolate parts of the scene, and organize
the important visual elements within our viewfinder to effectively convey how we feel about

Unity refers to an ordering of all elements in an image so that each contributes to a unified
aesthetic effect so that the image is seen as a whole. Failing to accomplish this results in the
premature termination of the viewer's experience - they look away. There are a number of ways
to achieve unity to attract and keep the viewers attention.

Dominance and Subordination:

An artist or photographer attempts to control the sequence in which visual events in the frame
are observed and the amount of attention each element receives. Making an element dominant
can be done through size and color. Large objects dominate smaller ones and warm colored
objects dominate cooler pale colored objects. Another way of achieving dominance is through
positioning various elements within the frame. A centrally located object will draw more
attention then one at the periphery. However the center is not the best place to position the most
dominant element - usually just to one side of the center is more effective.
Another method to achieve dominance is through convergence or radiation or lines. The eye
tends to follow these lines to the point where they converge.
Dominance can also be achieved through nonconformity i.e. difference or exception. If all the
elements are similar and one is different in color, tone or shape- it will stand out and become
dominant. The brown cattail leaf below is dominant because it is different from those around
Coherence refers to the belonging together or the various parts of the artwork. In reality these
parts may be unrelated, but within the confines of the image their color, shapes, and size form

a sense of unity. Visual coherence can be achieved through the use of analogous color and color
tonality. It can also be achieve through similarity of shape, color size or texture. However too
much similarity can lead to boredom - we need some variety to add "spice" to the image
Balance implies that the visual elements within the frame have a sense of weight. Large objects
generally weigh more than small objects and dark objects weigh more than light colored
objects. The position of the elements is also critical. We unconsciously assume the center of a
picture corresponds to a fulcrum. A heavy weight on one side can be balanced by a lighter
weight on the other side if the lighter weight is located at a greater distance from the fulcrum.
Another way to achieve balance is through symmetry. Reflections of the landscape in still water
are an example of almost perfect symmetry. Reflections can take on an abstract quality that
resembles a Rorschach inkblot used in a psychological testing.
Rorschach inkblot created by folding a piece of paper covered and filled with ink to form a
symmetrical pattern.
Positive and Negative Space
Positive space is where shapes and forms exist; negative space is the empty space around
shapes and forms. In the photo below the black area is negative space and it serves to balance
the area in which the marmot and rock occupy. Areas of a picture that contain "nothing" are
important visual elements that provide balance in an image.
Rhythm refers to the regular repeating occurrence of elements in the scene just as in music it
refers to the regular occurrence of certain musical notes over time. In photography the
repetition of similar shapes sets up a rhythm that makes seeing easier and more enjoyable.
Rhythm is soothing and our eyes beg to follow rhythmic patterns. To be effective, rhythm also
requires some variability - rhythm that is too similar or perfect may be boring. Therefore when
composing your images look for repetition with variation. For instance if you are
photographing a fence - one that is perfect will not hold a viewers interest for long, but one in
which some of the posts are bent, broken, larger or smaller will generate more viewer interest.
Differences in the height of the fence posts add interest to an otherwise monotonic rhythm.
The yellow marigold is balanced by the negative space of the complimentary colored blue sky.

Proportion - Golden Ratio and Rule of ThirdsProportion refers the size relationship of visual
elements to each other and to the whole picture. One of the reasons proportion is often
considered important in composition is that viewers respond to it emotionally. Proportion in
art has been examined for hundreds of years, long before photography was invented. One
proportion that is often cited as occurring frequently in design is the Golden mean or Golden
Golden Ratio: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc. Each succeeding number after 1 is equal to the
sum of the two preceding numbers. The Ratio formed 1:1.618 is called the golden mean - the
ratio of bc to ab is the same as ab to ac. If you divide each smaller window again with the same
ratio and joing their corners you end up with a logarithmic spiral. This spiral is a motif found
frequently throughout nature in shells, horns and flowers (and my Science & Art logo).
The Golden Mean or Phi occurs frequently in nature and it may be that humans are genetically
programmed to recognize the ratio as being pleasing. Studies of top fashion models revealed
that their faces have an abundance of the 1.618 ratio.
Many photographers and artists are aware of the rule of thirds, where a picture is divided into
three sections vertically and horizontally and lines and points of intersection represent places
to position important visual elements. The golden ratio and its application are similar although
the golden ratio is not as well known and its' points of intersection are closer together. Moving
a horizon in a landscape to the position of one third is often more effective than placing it in
the middle, but it could also be placed near the bottom one quarter or sixth. There is nothing
obligatory about applying the rule of thirds. In placing visual elements for effective
composition, one must assess many factors including color, dominance, size and balance
together with proportion. Often a certain amount of imbalance or tension can make an image
more effective. This is where we come to the artists' intuition and feelings about their subject.
Each of us is unique and we should strive to preserve those feelings and impressions about our
chosen subject that are different.
On analyzing some of my favorite photographs by laying down grids (thirds or golden ratio in
Adobe Photoshop) I find that some of my images do indeed seem to correspond to the rule of
thirds and to a lesser extent the golden ratio, however many do not. I suspect an analysis of
other photographers' images would have similar results. There are a few web sites and
references to scientific studies that have studied proportion in art and photography but I have

not come across any systematic studies that quantified their results- maybe I just need to look
In summary, proportion is an element of design you should always be aware of but you must
also realize that other design factors along with your own unique sensitivity about the subject
dictates where you should place items in the viewfinder. Understanding proportion and various
elements of design are guidelines only and you should always follow your instincts combined
with your knowledge. Never be afraid to experiment and try something drastically different,
and learn from both your successes and failures. Also try to be open minded about new ways
of taking pictures, new techniques, ideas - surround yourself with others that share an open
mind and enthusiasm and you will improve your compositional skills quickly.
35 mm film has the dimensions 36 mm by 24 mm (3:2 ratio) - golden mean ration of 1.6 to 1
Points of intersection are recommended as places to position important elements in your
Chaos - Simplicity versus complexity.
Chaos is a disordered state of elements and it is found frequently in nature. The goal of many
photographers is to take a picture that exhibits some underlying organization so the viewer sees
what the artists intends for them to see, but leaves enough chaos within the frame of the image
so the viewer has to put forth some effort to explore and fully appreciate the image. New
photographers often include too many elements in their images and can often improve their
composition by removing unessential elements. Beyond a certain point, however an image that
is too simple fails to hold ones attention (e.g. single leaf above has interesting elements but
after a few moments I find little to hold my attention). Compare this to an image I took with
my 4 x 5 camera of the rainforest shot below, and I find the rainforest image has so many
textures and patterns that I can look at and explore the image for extended periods of time and
still continue to discover things I have not seen before. The ability to introduce and handle
complex elements within the frame of an image and still produce an effective composition
requires a maturation of seeing that takes time to develop. I have also found that larger film
formats encourage compositions with more detail and complexity then using smaller digital
and 35 mm film based cameras. In short, the size and format of camera you use will also
influence what you shoot, and how you compose your images.

Summary & Conclusion

Understanding elements of visual design and how they can affect our emotions can also help
us make our photographic images more effective. However, keep in mind that no rule or
guideline can ever guarantee success. A successful image depends upon a multitude of things
that must come together including: timing, lighting, color, composition, and an audience
sensitive to what it is you are trying to communicate. It is likely that many artists carry out
design intuitively and arrange elements so they "feel right" and since art is in part a way of
expressing our feelings to others no other guiding principle may be required. As Freeman
Patterson put it so eloquently "Good composition is always harmonious with the design of the
material being photographed", Art of Seeing 1985. Elements of design can be compared to the
scales in music, they are starting points around which music is made but the elements are by
themselves only building blocks. In conclusion, an understanding of the elements of design
will not by themselves make you a better a photographer, but they can provide a framework in
which to evaluate images and their effectiveness.
Another way to improve composition is to compare your images with those of others whose
work you admire or respect. Mimicry is one way to begin to develop your skills and learning
to copy the styles of certain artists is in part the road to towards developing your own style,
although many artists may not admit to it. Take those stylistic elements you like and then
integrate them into your own point of view. Evaluate and compare your work both technically
and aesthetically against those of other photographers. Be realistic and critical when you
evaluate your own images and edit your images ruthlessly. The better you become the more
critical you will become of you own work and those of others. Listen to what others have to
say when they view your images, what they like, what they don't like but always be true to
yourself and what your vision is. My wife may not be knowledgeable about design, but if she
responds to image I know others will too.
One method to measure your success is when others wish to own or purchase your work. If you
don't have to sell your photography to pay the rent or eat - you have a freedom that many
professional photographers do not. You can take photographs for the sheer joy of it.

Typography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type. It's central to the work
and skills of a designer and is about much more than making the words legible. Your choice of
typeface and how you make it work with your layout, grid, colour scheme, design theme and
so on will make the difference between a good, bad and great design.There are lots of
typography tutorials around to help you master the discipline. But good typography is often
down to creative intuition. Once you're comfortable with the basics, visit some typography
resources to investigate font families and discover some font pairings that are made for each

Choosing a font
There's an astonishing array of paid-for and free fonts to choose from online. But with great
power comes great responsibility. Just because you can choose from a vast library doesn't mean
you have to; there's something to be said for painting with a limited palette, and tried and tested
fonts like Helvetica continue to serve us well.
A typeface, like any form of design, is created by craftsmen over a substantial period of time,
using the talent and experience they've been honing for many years. And the benefits of a
professionally designed font various weights and styles to form a complete family, carefully
considered kerning pairs, multi-language support with international characters, expressive
alternate glyphs to add character and variety to type-setting are not always found in a font
available for free.
Here are some of the most important typographic considerations the professional designers
needs to take into account.

01. Size
All typefaces are not created equally. Some are fat and wide; some are thin and narrow. So
words set in different typefaces can take up a very different amount of space on the page.
The height of each character is known as its 'x-height' (quite simply because it's based on the
letter 'x'). When pairing typefaces such as when using a different face to denote an area of
attention it's generally wise to use those that share a similar x-height. The width of each

character is known as the 'set width', which spans the body of the letter plus a space that acts
as a buffer with other letter.
The most common method used to measure type is the point system, which dates back to the
eighteenth century. One point is 1/72 inch. 12 points make one pica, a unit used to measure
column widths. Type sizes can also be measured in inches, millimeters, or pixels.

02. Leading
Leading describes the vertical space between each line of type. It's called this because strips of
lead were originally used to separate lines of type in the days of metal typesetting.
For legible body text that's comfortable to read, a general rule is that your leading value should
be greater than the font size; anywhere from 1.25 to 1.5 times.

03. Tracking and kerning

Kerning describes the act of adjusting the space between characters to create a harmonious
pairing. For example, where an uppercase 'A' meets an uppercase 'V', their diagonal strokes are
usually kerned so that the top left of the 'V' sits above the bottom right of the 'A'.
Kerning similar to, but not the same as, 'tracking'; this relates to the spacing of all characters
and is applied evenly.

04. Measure
The term 'measure' describes the width of a text block. If you're seeking to achieve the optimum
reading experience, it's clearly an important consideration.

05. Hierarchy and scale

If all type was the same size, then it would be difficult to know which was the most important
information on the page. In order to guide the reader, then, headings are usually large, subheadings are smaller, and body type is smaller still.

Size is not the only way to define hierarchy it can also be achieved with colour, spacing and
Popular Culture:
Popular culture is the accumulation of cultural products such as music, art, literature, fashion,
dance, film, cyber culture, television and radio that are consumed the majority of a society's
population. Popular culture has mass accessibility and appeal. The term "popular culture" was
coined in the 19th century or earlier. Traditionally, it was associated with lower classes and
poor education as opposed to the "official culture" of the upper class.
Rise of Popular Culture
After the end of World War II, innovations in mass media led to significant cultural and social
changes. Scholars trace the origins of rise of popular culture to the creation of the middle class
generated by the Industrial Revolution.The meaning of popular culture then began to merge
with that of mass culture, consumer culture, image culture, media culture and culture for mass
There are two opposing sociological arguments in relation to popular culture.
One argument is that popular culture is used by the elites (who tend to control the mass media
and popular culture outlets) to control those below them because it dulls peoples minds,
making them passive and easy to control. A second argument is just the opposite, that popular
culture is a vehicle for rebellion against the culture of dominant groups.
In his book, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, John Storey offers six different definitions
of popular culture. In one definition, Storey describes mass or popular culture as "a hopelessly
commercial culture [that is] mass-produced for mass consumption [by] a mass of nondiscriminating consumers.

He further states that popular culture is formulaic [and]

manipulative, not unlike how he views the process of advertising. A product or brand has to
be sold to an audience before it can be entrenched in mass or popular culture; by bombarding
society with it, it then finds its place in popular culture.
Britney Spears is a good example of this definition; her road to stardom and place in popular
culture were based on marketing strategies to build look along with her fan base. As a result,
she generated millions of fans, her songs were played frequently on numerous radio stations,

and she went on to sell out concerts and garner the public's fascination through her meltdown.
Like the creation of Britney Spears, pop culture almost always depends on mass production for
mass consumption because we rely on mass media to get our information and shape our
Pop Culture Vs. High Culture
Pop culture is the culture of the people and it is accessible to the masses. High culture, on the
other hand, isn't meant for mass consumption nor is it readily available to everyone. It belongs
to the social elite. The fine arts, theater, opera, intellectual pursuits--these are associated with
the upper socioeconomic strata and require more a high brow approach, training or reflection
to be appreciated. Elements from this realm rarely cross over into pop culture. As such, high
culture is considered sophisticated while popular culture is often looked down upon as being
Visual elements of an image:
Although most individuals have had substantial experience in interpreting conventional
photographs in their daily lives (e.g. newspaper photographs) the interpretation of images often
departs from everyday photo interpretation in three important respects: (1) the portrayal of
features from an overhead, often unfamiliar, perspective; (2) the frequent use of wavelengths
outside of the visible portion of the spectrum; and (3) the depiction of the earth's surface at
unfamiliar scales and resolutions. While these factors may be insignificant to the experienced
image analyst, they can represent a substantial challenge to the novice interpreter! A systematic
study of aerial photographs usually involves several basic characteristics of features shown on
a photograph. The exact characteristics useful for any specific task and the manner in which
they are considered depend on the field of application. However, most applications consider
the following basic characteristics, or variations of them: shape, size, patten, tone (or hue),
texture, shadows, site, and association.
Shape refers to the general form, configuration, or outline of individual objects. In the case of
stereoscopic photographs, the object's height also defines its shape. The shape of some objects
is so distinctive that their images may be identified solely from this criterion. The Pentagon
Building near Washington D.C., is a classic example. All shapes are obviously not this
diagnostic, but every shape is of some significance to the photo interpreter.

Size of objects on photographs must be considered in the context of the photo scale. A small
storage shed, for example, might be misinterpreted as a barn if size were not considered.
Relative sizes among objects on photographs of the same scale must also be considered.
Pattern relates to the spatial arrangement of objects. The repetition of certain general forms or
relationships is characteristic of many objects, both natural and constructed, and gives objects
a pattern that aids the photo interpreter in recognising them. An outdoor drive-in theatre, for
example, has a particular layout and pattern of parking spaces that aid in its identification.
Drive-in theatres have been misidentified as housing subdivisions by novice photo interpreters
who did not carefully consider size, shape, and pattern. Likewise, the ordered spatial
arrangement of trees in an orchard is in distinct contrast to that of forest tree stands.
Tone refers to the relative brightness or on colour of objects photographs. Without tonal
differences, the shapes, patterns, and textures of objects could not be discerned. Colour
photography enables an interpreter to exploit differences in hue.
Texture is the frequency of tonal change on the photographic image. Texture is produced by
an aggregation of unit features that may be too small to be discerned individually on the
photograph, such as tree leaves and leaf shadows. It is a product of their individual shape, size,
pattern, shadow and tone. It determines the overall visual smoothness or coarseness of image
features. As the scale of the photograph is reduced, the texture of any given object or area
becomes progressively finer and ultimately disappears. An interpreter can often distinguish
between features with similar reflectances based on their texture differences. An example
would be the smooth texture of green grass as contrasted with the rough texture of green tree
crowns on medium scale airphotos.
Shadows are important to interpreters in two opposing respects: (1) the shape or outline of a
shadow affords an impression of the profile view of objects (which aids interpretation) and (2)
objects within shadows reflect little light and are difficult to discern on photographs (which
hinders interpretation). For example, the shadows cast by various tree species or cultural
features (bridges, silos, towers, etc.) can definitely aid in their identification on airphotos. Also,
the shadows resulting from even subtle variations in terrain elevations, especially in the case
of low sun angle photographs, can aid in assessing natural topographic variations that may be
diagnostic of various geological landforms.
Site refers to topographic or geographic location and is a particularly important aid in the
identification of vegetation types. For example, certain tree species would be expected to occur

on well-drained upland sites, whereas other tree species would be expected to occur on poorly
drained lowland sites. Also, various tree species occur only in certain geographic areas (e.g.
redwoods occur in California, but not in Indiana).
Association refers to the occurrence of certain features in relation to others. For example, a
ferris wheel might be difficult to identify if standing in a field near a barn, but would be easy
to identify if in an area recognised as an amusement park.
Approaching the Interpretation Process
There is no single, right way to approach the interpretation process. The specific photographic
materials and interpretation equipment available will, in part, influence how a particular
interpretation task is undertaken. Beyond these factors, the specific goals of the interpretation
will determine the interpretation process employed. Many applications simply require the
image analyst to identify and count various discrete objects occurring in a study area. For
example, counts may be made of such items as motor vehicles, residential dwellings,
recreational watercraft, or animals. Other applications of the interpretation process often
involve the identification of anomalous conditions. For example, the image analyst might
survey large areas looking for such features as failing septic systems, sources of water pollution
entering a stream, areas of a forest stressed by an insect or disease problem, or evidence of sites
having potential archaeological significance.
Many applications of airphoto interpretation involve the delineation of discrete areal units
throughout photographs. For example, the mapping of land use, soil types, or forest types
requires the interpreter to outline the boundaries between areas of one type versus another.
Such tasks can be problematic when the boundary is not a discrete edge, but is indeterminate
or a gradation from one type of area to another.
Two extremely important issues must be addressed before an interpreter undertakes the task of
delineating separate areal units on photographs. The first is the definition of the criteria to be
used to separate the various categories of features occurring in the photographs. For example,
in mapping land use the interpreter must fix firmly in mind what specific characteristics
determine if an area is residential, commercial, or industrial. Similarly, the forest type mapping
process must involve clear definition of what constitutes an area to be delineated in a particular
species, height, or crown density class.

The second important issue in delineation of discrete areal units on photographs is the selection
of the minimum mapping unit (MMU) to be employed in the process. This refers to the smallest
size areal entity to be mapped as a discrete area. Selection of the MMU will determine the
extent of detail conveyed by an interpretation.
Once the criteria and MMU have been determined, the interpreter can begin the process of
delineating boundaries between feature types. Experience suggests that it is advisable to
delineate the most highly contrasting feature types first and to work from the general to the
specific. For example, in a land use mapping effort it would be better to separate urban from
water and agriculture before separating more detailed categories of each of these feature types
based on subtle differences.
In certain applications, the interpreter might choose to delineate photomorphic regions as part
of the delineation process. These are regions of reasonably uniform tone, texture, and other
image characteristics. When initially delineated, the feature type identity of these regions may
not be known. Field observations or other ground truth can then be used to verify the identity
of each region. Regrettably, there is not always a one-to-one correspondence between the
appearance of a photomorphic region and a mapping category of interest. However, the
delineation of such regions often serves as a stratification tool in the interpretation process and
can be valuable in applications such as vegetation mapping (where photomorphic regions often
correspond directly to vegetation classes of interest).

Color in Visual Communication:

Color is one of the most important elements of a composition, be it painting, photography, film
or 3D rendering. Color plays a critical role in our everyday life. Color can sway thinking,
change actions, and cause reactions. Color can attract any individuals attention or change their
mood. It can cause irritation or soothe your eyes.
Artists, over the years, have used color purposefully to attract attention to their piece of art.
The utilization of color is one of the most effective means of creating impact in images.
However, to use color effectively, one must understand a little about color. Artists, film makers
and all related to the field of visual communication have been successfully using it over the
years to communicate to their audience. There are four major aspects in any color Hue,
Saturation, Value and Temperature.

Hue is an important property of color that describes the actual color in the color wheel.
Saturation defines how intense or pure the color is in the color wheel. The presence of saturated
hue/color in the composition gives a vivid and pure look to an image, thereby making the image
more dynamic. However, excessive usage of high saturated colors in any composition may be
confusing as each saturated color would compete with the other for dominance. This may case
fatigue to the eyes of a viewer. An image with the dominance of less saturated color looks
white washed.
The Value of color determines how light or dark the color is in its shade. This aspect of color
is used extensively to depict the spatial form of an object. Closer color values can make an
image look flat, whereas contrasting color values enhance the form of the object in an image
and provide a sense of depth.
Value is used to guide a viewers eye and create emphasis in a composition or design. A lighter
color will be more prominent in a darker background and vice versa. A colors lightness or
darkness may vary based on the color values present around it and its background. The below
image will help us understand the same.
As far as the Temperature of a color is concerned, certain colors are generally associated with
warmth and others with cold. Colors like red, orange and yellow are warm colors while blue,
green and violet are cold. The higher the presence of red in a color, the more would be its
appeal as a warm color. On the other hand, addition of blue will make a color appear as a cooler
one. Warm colors tend to appear in the foreground of an image while cooler colors recede into
the background. This can be used effectively to direct the viewers eye in the composition.
Since cooler colors recede you may decide to use them for background elements while warm
colors make a good choice for elements in the foreground.
Many attributes of color-like saturation (color purity) and value (range of light to dark) are
known to evoke emotions in an individual and create moods. Lighter colors have positive
impact whereas darker colors are known to impact adversely. You can create a lot of changes
in a photograph clicked after you take it through various digital photography tricks.
Picking the best color for an image or a composition is not as easy as it may sound. What may
be a good, right, or a beautiful color for a composition may not be valid or work with any
other imagery in context to the various other color values present. Choosing a perfect color is
not about choosing it in isolation, but to select it based on the context of other colors present
in the visual.

Visual Analysis:
Visual Analysis is the backbone of art history! It takes a bit of practice, but once youve
mastered the skills, it can help you to analyze any works of art you come across. It will even
help you to understand why things you see every day -- ads in magazines, billboards and the
like -- are (or are not) effective.
To perform a visual analysis, you first need to know the basic visual elements, also called
formal elements, that compose all images. Each time you encounter at a work of art, first look
for these elements. Click on each term for examples that will clarify how they can be used:
BulletLine: The most basic visual element, lines can be used to define shapes and figures, but
also to indicate motion, emotion and other elements
BulletColor: Can be defined on several scales, including hue, value, and saturation
BulletShape: A two-dimensional area with boundaries defined by lines or colors
BulletForm: Three-dimensional shape, either real or in illusion
BulletNaturalism: Making an image look like the real world
Now that you know some of the basic visual elements, we can look at how they are put together
in compositions. Composition is the way all of the visual elements are arranged to make the
whole image. Some of the major compositional devices are:
BulletSymmetry: Mirroring of two halves of a work
BulletBalance: An even use of elements throughout a work
BulletProportion and Scale: The relation in size of parts of an image to the whole
BulletRhythm: A visual tempo set by repeating elements in a work
BulletComposition: The sum off all the visual and compositional devices

Elements of Advertisement:
A good print advertisement can present your product to new eyes. Successful print ads convey
information about your products and store. They include a clear and specific offer, along with
information about how readers can act on that offer. Not all print ads are created equal,

however. In order to maximize your investment, include all of these elements in your
The Offer
A good print advertisement offers readers an immediate benefit or reason to learn more about
your product. This can be anything from a hot new product to a sale or limited-time discount.
Your offer is the hook that draws the reader in and it should be the focus on your ad.
The Headline
The ad title offers a short, snappy preview of what the reader will find in the copy. Your
headline explains to the reader the key benefit or offer you are providing. In general, headlines
are the largest part of the advertisement. A good headline keeps a potential customer reading;
a weak headline and the customer turns the page.
A print ad includes one or two striking pictures that illustrate your offer. If you are offering a
free product, your ad should include an attractive photo of the product. If you are highlighting
a hot new product or sale, your image should be of that hot new product. If possible, run your
images in color to draw in readers.
The Body
The body of your ad includes details about your offer, details about your store or product and
any other information you want to highlight. Keep your body text short and easy-to read. Use
bullet points or subheadings to break up the text. Readers want to get the information they need
as quickly as possible.
Call to Action
Include a sense of urgency in your ad. Don't just tell readers about your product, urge them to
take action in order to benefit from your offer. Set a time limit and clear, concise instructions
for what readers should do. Call to action statements include: "Call Today to Reserve Your
Copy," "Only 100 Copies in Store, Come in to Reserve Yours" and "Only the First 50
Customers Receive a Free T-Shirt, Come in Today."

Contact Information and Store Logo

Your ad should include the address and phone number for your store, along with any other
information a reader needs to follow through on your call to action. Also include a logo for
your product to build up brand recognition.
Smart Ad Placement
Once you've designed a successful advertisement, place it in publications that reach your target
market. Before you place your ad, ask the publication for statistics on their demographics.
Choose a publication that reaches potential clients who are the right age, demographic and
income bracket.

Visual Narratives:
Visual Narrative (henceforthVN) is a term taken for granted to mean (quite rightly) -- a
combination of the two words Visual and Narrative. If one tries looking up the definition
of the term Visual Narrative, chances are that one may not find it ; and yet VN is a topic under
which intensive research has been happening over the past decades. One may not have heard
of a specialized field or department called VN but one most certainly must be acquainted with
terms such as -- Narrative Art, Visual storytelling, Films, Pictorial stories, Illustrated stories,
Comics, Sequential art, History Painting, Animation etc. What binds the above mentioned areas
is the fact that they are all essentially explorations into visuals that tell stories. I have in my
paper On Defining Visual Narratives demonstrated that individual research areas (such as the
ones mentioned above) that conduct independent research are in fact various forms of VNs. In
doing so the paper establishes VN as a distinct category of Visual and Narrative Studies.
Furthermore, the paper proposes three types of VNs -- Static Visual Narrative, Dynamic
Visual Narrative, and Interactive Visual Narrative (henceforthSVN, DVN and IVN) as sub
genres of VNs.
The distinctive feature of the VN is the presence of a story. Thus a VN must be a visual that
tells a story. VN can be defined as a visual that essentially and explicitly narrates a story; where

Visual signifies something that can be seen using the human eye.
Story signifies a series of events linked by causality, temporality or sequence or the order of

Narrative signifies the act of telling a story or the story itself or the order of presentation.
The characteristic features of a VN are:
1. The presence of a story is the most essential feature of the VN. The story itself could belong
to any genre: fiction, mythology, fairy tale, folklore, fables, or religious stories. The VN from
the Sistine Chapel is a biblical story revolving around the creation of man.
2. The visual is constructed with the idea of communicating a story to the onlooker.
3. There is a presence of actors (participants). An Actor is a character in the story who performs
an action. It is the most essential component of the VN. The most commonly used method of
recognizing a VN is through identifying the actor or the situation that the actors in a visual
build up. In the Sistine Chapel VN the figures of Adam and God If the actor is absent from the
VN the visual would be incapable of representing an event. This rule however is not applicable
if the image in question is part of a series of images that tell the story for e.g. comic strips.The
entire series of images that from the comic strip is a VN.
4. The VN has a universe of its own. The participants or actors exist in a virtual story world
i.e. a universe that mimics the real or imagined world but is different from the viewers world.
The participants of the story exist in this universe that has its own time deixis and spatial
5. The story is composed of events arranged in time.
6. A VN could be expressed on any medium such as on paper, in the form of a stone sculpture,
an object or an electronic device.
7. A VN is genre independent.
Examples of VNs
Alice in Wonderland on the iPad tells the story of Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
Greek Painted pottery that tells the story of Hercules, show here is the scene where Hercules
wrestles Antaeus.
To elucidate further we can say that any visual that is represented with an idea to communicate
a story to the onlooker qualifies as a VN. In some cases the onlooker may fail to relate to the
story presented due to a number of reasons such as differences in culture, context, language,
etc. The fact that the onlooker does not know the story does not nullify the narrative quality of

that visual. A good example to illustrate the point being made is a sculptural relief on a Hindu
temple. A person coming from a different religious background may not be able to identify the
story depicted but the sculpture will still be called a VN as it does tell a story. Similarly certain
cave paintings could be VNs as they may have had oral stories (for instance -- about how a
group of hunters succeeded at capturing a particularly difficult prey) attached to them which
are now lost.
By defining the VN we wish to mark the peculiarity from other visuals where a story can be
imposed onto the visual. Visuals that fall under the VN Category are1. Visuals where the story depicted is expected to be so well known within the context that it
does not require an accompanying text. For example murals & sculptures in temples, churches,
paintings / engraving on objects.
2. Visual where the story accompanies the visual in written or aural form. e.g. comics, animated
films, illustrated books, motion pictures.
Visual Narratives are a universally occurring phenomenon. They exist across media, history,
genre and culture.
Visual Narratives can be further classified into three main types.
1. Static Visual Narratives - SVN
2. Dynamic Visual Narratives - DVN
3. Interactive Visual Narratives - IVN