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How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay | Visual Analysis Essay Example

Learning how to write a visual analysis essay is essential, especially if you are studying subjects like history, arts, and English. The application of visual analysis techniques in writing is the key feature of this sort of essay.

Writing a visual analysis essay seems to be a difficult task for most college students. However, one can easily learn to write a visual analysis essay in no time if one understands what it is and uses a proper approach. Besides, in a visual analysis essay, personal responses play an essential role. With that in mind, keep reading this article and learn to write a visual analysis response. 

What is a Visual Analysis Essay

A visual analysis essay is a type of essay in which the writer must thoroughly illustrate a picture, piece of art, or any visual display. For that purpose, you must analyze the picture or the visual display and demonstrate each element in detail. In addition to that, you must provide a description of how each idea or concept helps in making the visual piece stand out effectively.

These ideas and concepts include fundamental visual elements as well as some design principles. Therefore, you must learn to comprehend these concepts and ideas to write an effective and strong visual analysis essay.

Nonetheless, here are a few things that you need to look for in order to analyze the visual piece:

  • How the picture is formed
  • Its historical context
  • the artist’s
  • and the audience

While writing a visual analysis essay, you need to ensure that your way of writing is simple, clear, and precise. Besides that, you should use descriptive language to write a good visual analysis essay. Moreover, the main purpose of writing a visual analysis is to describe any specific feature or element of the piece or the whole artwork entirely.

All in all, here are a few reasons why one needs to write a visual analysis essay.

  • Describe the picture, piece of art, or any movie from your point of view.
  • Demonstrate any specific element of the artwork thoroughly.
  • Provide interesting facts about the visual piece.
  • Helps students in understanding and appreciating the artwork and its importance.
  • Encourages them to look for detailed elements instead of just looking and admiring any piece of art.
  • Students can learn to back up and elaborate their ideas by analyzing any visual work.

Elements of a Visual Analysis Essay

One of the most important things that you need to learn for writing a good visual analysis essay is the visual elements of the artwork. The aim of these elements is to provide a visual representation. For a student, it is not feasible to not only write a visual analysis essay but also analyze any piece of art without having an understanding of the artwork’s characteristics.

Hence, here are the most- widely used visual elements that you can use while writing your essay.

1. Composition

This element demonstrates how each part of the artwork relates to one another. Therefore, while you are analyzing an artwork, you should try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the artwork about
  • How each element of the artwork are put together
  • What seems to be left out

2. Elements of Design

While crafting an artwork, an artist utilizes a bunch of elements. These elements include size, color, lines, shapes, and other elements.

3. Focal Point

The focal point of any image or visual work is the main point towards which the artist tries to draw the audience’s attention. Therefore, if you understand the focal point of the image, you will be able to understand the whole image or artwork.

4. Line

The lines depicted in the image play a crucial role in understanding the overall image. You must explain how lines assist direct the viewer’s attention to certain aspects of the image.

5. Color

You should indeed define how colors affect the image when writing a visual analysis essay. Therefore, concentrate on the colors and how they influence the overall mood and tone of the image.6.

6. Texture

It refers to the smoothness or roughness of the artwork. A texture can be natural or fake in two-dimensional or three-dimensional artwork.

7. Shape and Form

Besides texture, color, and lines, you need to understand how the artist has used different shapes including a circle, oval, square, and more. Then, you need to describe what these shapes mean and what they contribute to the image. In addition to the shapes, you need to analyze the shading and the lighting effects of the artwork too. Because these help the artist paint in 2D or 3D.

8. Size

When analyzing the artwork, you need to thoroughly understand each figure or element in the piece. Then, describe what each element’s size is, why the artist has specifically picked this size, and what it means.

9. Symbolic Elements

Other than the size of the figures and elements in the artwork, you should also analyze the artwork and figure out if there is any object that has a specific meaning. If there are any, describe what it means.

Principle of Design in Visual Analysis Essay

For writing a good visual analysis essay, you should not only understand where are its main elements but also its principle of design. These principles assist you in identifying and explaining the picture or visual display’s characteristics.

1. Balance

It refers to how each element is put together and whether or not it is stable or unstable.

2. Emphasis

It describes anything that catches your attention when you glance at the artwork. This usually includes texture, size, color, and more.

3. Movement

It describes how your eyes move through the artwork and whether or not there are any areas in the artwork that makes your eyes freeze for a little while on them.

4. Pattern and Repetition

Is there something in the artwork that is repeated? If yes, it must have some obvious reasons. You might want to know why.

5. Proportion

It describes the relative sizes of the figures in the artwork and whether or not they align with each other.

6. Variety and Rythem

The usage of numerous design components to make the image appear dynamic and in an engaged rhythm is referred to as variety.

How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay

Now that you know what is a visual analysis essay, what are some essential elements of a visual analysis essay and its principles of design, you are good to start writing your essay. Even though writing a good essay is not so difficult, you need to do some pre-writing tasks first. Hence, keep on reading to learn how to write a visual analysis essay.

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

The first step towards writing a visual analysis essay is understanding what your teacher is asking you. Therefore, when you initially begin writing, you must first comprehend your teacher’s requirements for you. A few instructors provide guidelines when assigning any assignment that students ought to follow.

However, if you face any difficulty in understanding the requirements, make sure to visit your teacher’s office and seek help.

Step 2: Choose a Topic

Now that you understand the assignment and your teacher’s requirements, you are good to choose a topic for your visual analysis essay. Selecting a good topic for your essay is a crucial step. So, try opting for a topic or title that will spark the interest of your audience or readers. Otherwise, your readers might not even bother to read the first paragraph of your essay.

Step 3: Gater Information

Once you have understood the assignment and selected an interesting topic for your essay. You can start gathering some essential pieces of information for your essay. Here are a few questions that you need to answer meanwhile.

  • What and who does the piece of art represent?
  • Who is the artist?
  • What is the purpose of the piece of art?
  • Where and when was the piece of art created?
  • Where was this piece of art displayed initially?
  • What was the medium used for the display?
  • How is that essential?
  • Which materials were used for the display?

Step 4: Describe the Painting

The following step is to determine what the artwork depicts. This section is similar to an abstract of an essay in which you must summarise all noticeable aspects. So, look for the following elements in artwork to describe it properly,

  • Identify the main elements or characters 
  • What do these elements or characters represent?
  • If you are evaluating a historical picture, identify the tale on which the artwork is based.
  • Define the artwork’s overall vibe.
  • Describe the key setting of the artwork.

Step 5: Get a Detailed Analysis

This step is essentially the most essential step of writing a good visual analysis essay. In this step, you have to take enough time to analyze the artwork to understand which visual elements and principles of design should be used while writing an essay on the artwork. Besides, we have thoroughly described both the principles of design and the elements of a visual analysis essay above. Hence, make sure to check both.

Since, each piece of art is unique and has a specific meaning and purpose, thoroughly consider which ones should be used in your essay.

Step 6: Create a Visual Analysis Essay Outline and Write Your Essay

The rule of thumb here is to use the traditional five-paragraph long essay structure in which the first paragraph is the introductory paragraph, the second, third, and fourth is the body paragraph, and the last one is the concluding paragraph.

When you are assigned to write a visual analysis essay on any piece of artwork, analyze it thoroughly, and find its most suitable elements and its principle of design. Then, define the outline of your essay and start writing. With that being said, let us look at each paragraph and learn how to write a good visual analysis essay.


 The introductory paragraph is the first paragraph of any essay. That is why it should contain some basic information about the issue or subject that your essay is addressing. Hence, once you introduce the topic, offer brief information on the following points.

  • Give a brief overview of the artwork and its creator.
  • Define the painting’s main aspects.
  • Include a piece of fascinating information about the artist or the picture.
  • Always include a hook at the beginning.
  • Next, include a thesis statement at the conclusion of the introductory paragraph. The thesis statement for a visual analysis essay provides information about points on the artwork that you intend to explore in your article.

Body Paragraphs

You must investigate the artwork in depth in the body part of your essay. Provide three or more suggestions to back up your thesis. Besides that, describe and examine the entire piece of art. This basically includes the method utilized, form, color, and everything else that supports your argument.

Only discuss the components of the artwork that support your argument. Present all of the facts rationally and analyze the objects’ relationships present in the artwork. You should evaluate your opinions about the artwork under investigation in reaction to a visual argument provided by the artist.


After you have finished the body part, go on to the concluding paragraph. The concluding paragraph is the essay’s final paragraph. Therefore, it should be forceful and well-written. Here, you must enhance your thesis once more.

So, summarize all of your arguments and paragraphs. Then, restate your thesis statement to conclude your essay. 


When working on visual analysis, it is essential to know how to properly reference the artwork. Referencing a painting, image, or another visual source basically necessitates more detail than citing an article or book. With that being said, here are a few things that you need to consider while citing your visual analysis essay.

  • Name of the artwork
  • The medium of the artwork
  • Artist’s name
  • Date when it was created
  • Current location
  • Size dimensions

Moreover, while trying to cite any piece of art that you have seen online. Here are a few things that you need to add to your reference.

  • Name of the website you saw the artwork on
  • Link to the website
  • Date of the publication and date of your access

Step 7: Proofread Your Essay

The most vital step in guaranteeing a good essay is proofreading. You should reread it to ensure that all of your claims are coherent, logical, and well-supported. You may also have your work reviewed by friends, elders, or family members.

We recommend that you never hand over or publish an assignment or essay without first editing it. Any errors, no matter how slight, have a negative impression on your readers.

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