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Author Topic: Creating a Glossary of Visual Devices  (Read 10806 times)  Share 

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Creating a Glossary of Visual Devices
« on: February 24, 2012, 02:05:33 pm »
I know there are plenty of glossaries out there for persuasive language devices, but as far as I can tell there isn't a whole lot readily available for English students on visual devices. So I thought it might be useful to make one for students who feel they are weak at analysing the visual elements of articles. Here is what I have so far, feel free to suggest more:

Abstract design: When there are no or very few recognisable forms from the real world. Can often involve a simplification of something from the real world to make it more abstract, or distinctive.
Accent: When something is marked out as important in someway in order to attract the viewers attention to them.
Assymetrical balance: When parts of the visual piece are different from one another but are balanced out in such a way that they carry they same weight visually.
Atmospheric perspective: A technique whereby one creates the illusion of depth in order to convey a three-dimensional space. This is done by showing things that are far away as being smaller and making the smaller details of them harder to make out than the things which are supposed to be closer. In other words it mimicks how the distant objects look to the human eye.
Background: The part of the image which is perceived as being farthest away from the viewer.
Balance: When all of the elements of a piece have the same visual weight, thus creating a sense of visual harmony and unity. Contrast with imbalance, which might be purposely used to evoke a sense of discord in the viewer, by giving more weight to some elements in favour of others.
Calligraphy: You would be better off looking for examples of this on the web instead of me describing them, as it will allow you to recognise it more easily.
Reasons it might be used: It is very distinctive in style, and appealing to the eye, also it carries Oriental connotations.
Caricature: Usually refers to when a person in the real world is represented in such a way that some of their features over-exaggerated, often humorously.
Center of interest: A particular area which has been given more visual weight in the overall composition of the work.
Collage: Look for an example on the web, basically consists of cutting and pasting stuff on the paper taken from somewhere else.
Composition: Refers to how the visual elements have been arranged. Composition determines the visual hierachy of the piece (that is, the order in which each element is perceived by the viewer) and therefore the respective importance of each element. Good composition provides the viewer a satisfying sense of unity and harmoniousness, purposely bad composition might be used, for example, to emphasise what an eyesore graffiti is.
(Use of) Computer graphics: When a visual image has been constructed wholly or partially by a computer, pretty commonplace when we are talking about articles. Not usually used persuasively, but could be if, say, the audience was computer savvy.
Contrast: When different elements visually oppose each other. (e.g. a black thing and a white thing are juxtaposed by placing them adjacent to each other)
Cropping: When you cut out parts of the original image (pretty much always a photograph) which aren't important. Watch out for examples of the opposite! Sometimes something which would usually be cropped out, might not be in order to create a counterpoint, contrast or juxtaposition!
Design: Basically has to do with how different visual elements have been arranged to evoke a particular overall effect, or to evoke a sense of unity. I don't know what the difference is between Design and Composition.
Dominant Elements: When emphasis is used to place on one particular visual element, this will invariably be the most important aspect of the image, with other elements providing merely secondary roles or being there to support it.
Economy: When you remove details which don't need to be shown to draw more attention to what you think is important about the visual element in question. Also see Minimal Design.
(The) Elements of Design: Line, form, value, texture, color, shape, etc.
Focal point: It basically has to do with the work being composed in such a way that the eye is drawn to particular points on the paper towards which the composition slopes. I recommend finding a visual example on the web so that you can recognise this.
Font: This is a pretty superficial thing to analyse in my opinion, but technically you are allowed to. Font concerns size of characters and what style they are printed in (e.g. New Roman, MS Comic Sans). I suppose if you were really desparate you could say, "Oh yeah, the title is printed larger than the rest, and is placed at the top of the article, which ensures that this is the first thing the reader sees and attracts the reader's attention." in my opinion this shouldn't even constitute analysis, however I did see an example in the examiner's report of good analysis of visual devices, which actually did just that, (it had other stuff too, but still) so I guess you might just get away with it. A note on fonts: The term 'serif' is French for "With tails", while 'sans serif' means the letter are without tails.
Foreground: The part of the image which is perceived as being closest to the viewer.
Fractal design: Find some examples on the web so you can recognise it. It is basically a pattern generated using maths, and possibly a computer.
Framing elements: When something has been framed, to highlight its importance, think of a picture frame. It is kind of difficult to describe it elsewise.
Harmony: Kind of having difficulty thinking of how to define this. It is sort of a feeling you just get when everything in the piece complements each other nicely to create a sense of unity, and wholesomeness.
Horizontal balance: When the elements on the left and right are balanced. Also see Balance.
Icon: An easily recognisable (and therefore iconic) symbol of some sort. Could also mean a computer icon, such as the save button on a computer.
Illustration: An illustration, unlike a work of art, emphasises the subject matter more than the form of the piece. The primary aim is communication rather than aesthetics.
Implied Lines: A line which isn't drawn but which is inferred to exist from its surroundings. You are probably unlikely to recognise this unless you are explicitly looking for it.
Likeness: Basically an image with a strong likeness to an object in the real world is realistically similar to it. Contrast with when something is purposely given a poor likeness, which might be used to create a caricature for instance.
Minimal Design: Derives from the Minimalist movement. It is when eeverything unimportant is taken out so that only the essential details remain.
Monochromaticism: When everything of the same hue (different shades of the same colour). Its opposite is Polychromaticism.
Montage: When a piece consists of pictures of different scenes, usually with a common link, may also be a form of Collage.
Movement: The path our eyes follow when we look at the piece. You might want to explain this one for the examiner's benefit since I didn't even know this one myself.
Negative Space: Empty space, sometimes this is used to create a sense of spaciousness within the piece, othertimes there might actually be latent shapes and forms hidden within the negative space!
Perspective: That which is used to create the illusion of distance and depth.
Photorealism: When something which isn't a photograph (in art this would usually be a painting) looks like as real as a photograph. You are probably unlikely to encounter this one.
Point of view: Where the viewer is implied to be standing relative to the subject matter. (e.g. Bird's eye view)
Pointillism: When the piece consists of dots, which when looked at standing far away are perceived as a coherent shape.
Positive Space: Space that has something in it.
Principles of Design: Balance, movement, emphasis, contrast, proportion, space, unity, etc.
Proportion: Size of objects in relationship to each other.
Quadrilateral: Any shape with four sides.
Radial balance: Balance which is achieved by arranging elements around a central point or line.
Repetition: Pretty self-explanatory.
Red, Green and Blue: The three most common colours in web design.
In the exam if a web article is used as the exam piece and it uses this colour scheme, you should point out that this creates a sense of consistency because these are the common colours which are likely to have encountered elsewhere. Contrariwise, if the author deviates from this colour scheme the effect might to be to create something more hip and fresh.
Rule of Thirds: In order to explain this one you really need an accompanying diagram, but the basic essence of it seems to be that you can create more visual interest by making the two off-center thirds of the canvas the focal points of the piece. If you want to really understand this one then you should probably look it up.
Silhouette: An apparition, or dark shape of a recognisable form, usually a person, against a light background. May be used to convey a sense of mystery, or as a form of Minimal Design.
Symmetrical Balance: Balance achieved by placing the same form or elements adjacent to each other, on both sides of a central access to create balance. Its opposite is assymetrical balance. It is usually pretty easily to recognise, since, you know, they are identical.
Vanishing Point: A kind of focal point where two lines intersect and vanish inside each other. See web for examples. Usually utilises perspective.
Visual Communication: The communication of ideas through visuals. It is kind of self-explanatory.

Sources used: Glossary of Fine Art: Terms and Definitions. URL: http://teresabernardart.com/category/glossary-of-art-terms/
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 03:31:20 pm by dilks »
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