Visual Literacy Presentation

Visual Literacy
We read images everyday, from television, computer screens, magazines and
films, to the everyday communication we have with each other in the form of
body language.
The ability to read visual images is known as ‘Visual Literacy’ and comes with
its own set of grammar in the same way as written language. Interpreting
meaning in cartoons, illustrations, film and the media is simply a matter of
understanding the key elements of symbolism (representing things by using
symbols), semiotics (the social relevance of signs and symbols) and metonyms
(a logical symbolic representation of something such as a crown for royalty).
Some of the components of visual literacy that we will look at are:
Colour, line, shape, hue, texture, framing, angles, perspective, setting
and symbols and metonyms
What do you feel when you see a
circle? A square, a triangle? Are
you affected the same way when
you see angles and sharp edges?
Shapes have an endless variety of characteristics each
communicating different messages
Lines and shapes
• Help us to identify what is in the image
• Direct our eyes into and around the image
• Evoke moods and feelings eg round shapes can evoke ‘warmth’
• Geometric
• Organic
from nature
• Abstract
Icons and symbols
Psychology of Shapes
Triangle = tension, conflict or action, it can also mean: energy, power,
balance, law, science, religion. It refers to the masculine:
strength, aggression, dynamic movement, self-discovery and
Square = stability, equality, solidity, security, rationality and honesty.
Circle = protective, infinite or eternity. Also connection, community,
wholeness, movement and completeness.
Spiral = expressions of creativity, the process of growth and
evolution, and spirituality.
A line connects two points, they can be thick or thin and long or
short. They can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. A line can be
broken or dotted, wavy or straight.
Thin lines convey fragility,
femininity, and seem delicate and
Thick lines suggest strength and
emphasis, they are bold and
make a statement
Colour evokes moods and feelings, however cultural differences
mean that something that is happy and uplifting in one country can
be depressing in another.
Light shades – happy feelings
Dark shades –gloominess; fear, evil
White – spirituality, purity, cleanliness
Green – peacefulness; the earth, nature, jealousy
Blue – sadness, depression, cold, peace, tranquility, spirituality
Red - warmth, energy, strength, passion, danger and stop
Pink – romance, love, femininity, peace, caring
Demand and offer refer to a type of gaze.
Looking directly at the viewer and making eye
contact is called a demand. The character or
participant is demanding something from the
Looking away from the viewer and not making
eye contact is called an offer.
Symbols and metonyms
Combining images, creates further meaning
What meaning has been created in these images by combining symbols?
Dominance or salience is the term used when
a character, animal or object:
• captures our attention
• holds our eye
• is at the centre of what is happening
It is a distinct quality
which makes some
items stand out from
their neighbors and
immediately grab our
Posture, gesture and facial expression give information about what people,
and animals that behave in human ways, are thinking and feeling.
What meaning is created by
these postures and gestures?
Different approaches to framing
produces different effects, which
• include or omit certain things
• give the viewer a point of view
• direct the viewer to a particular
• part of an image
• create dominance or salience
• emphasise a concept or
Framing can ‘isolate’, making a person
appear lonely or trapped
Juxtaposition is the placing of two or more people, or people and
things side by side or close together.
Juxtaposition is used to emphasise, compare or contrast something.
It can also suggest a connection between things or to distinguish
them. It creates an original, ironic or insightful meaning.
What meaning is changed by placing the lone boy in the
Light and/or shade in an image
create mood.
Shadows also can be used to create
Look at these images what
mood is created?
What are the effects of light and shade
in these images?
Composition within the frame determines the amount
of information given to the viewer as well as
sometimes signaling a social relationship with the
Framing is seen through a:
Long Shot
Medium Shot
Close Shot or close up
Framing can create dominance, importance or
emphasise something
Objects within the illustration may vary in size to establish and enhance the
relationship between the viewer, the image maker and the page. Size also
Creates importance, emphasis or dominance.
The angles position the audience’s view of the
character create different relationships between
people and objects. Angles also can create
importance or dominance of a subject.
Angles at eyelevel create an equal
status with viewer or other characters
Low angles create an ominous
and dominant character
High angles create
vulnerability or weakness of the subject
What is the effect of the angles in these illustrations?
Is the meaning created the same?
If no, what creates the difference?
Vectors are directions created in the image which force the eye to follow a
particular direction, to point to a particular object or create salience.
Vectors are formed in two ways:
• By the direction of the gaze – this gives us information about what is going
on between people or objects in an image
• By lines, real or implied that leads the viewer to focus on a particular part of
the image
Shaun Tan
Bernard Oberdieck,
Meaning in the text is reliant on the reader connecting the image or narrative to
another story.
What story has been used here?
What meaning is created by using the story and the image?
Annotate this image with all the visual literacy techniques the you can identify
What is the effect of these techniques?