How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay: Art and Template Analysis Examples (2023)

A visual analysis essay is a type of academic work that history and art students often study. consists of adetailed descriptionan image or object. You can also add oneinterpretationthe oneStreitwhich is supported by visual evidence.

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How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay: Art and Template Analysis Examples (1)

In this article, ourcustom writingThe specialists:

  • explain what visual analysis is;

  • Share helpful tips on writing a good visual analysis essay;

  • provide a sample copy.


  1. 🎨 Definition of visual analysis

  2. 🏺 Art analysis tips

  3. ✅ Writing guide for visual analysis

  4. ❓ Frequently Asked Questions

🎨 What is visual analysis?

The main purpose of visual analysis is to better understand a work of art by examining the visual elements.There are two types of visual analysis: formal and contextual.

  • Aformal analysisfocuses on art elements such as texture, color, size, and line. Its purpose is to organize visual information and translate it into words. A formal analysis does not interpret the play.

  • Unlike the formal analysiscontext analysis'The main goal is to connect the artwork to its purpose or meaning within a culture. A context analysis involves a formal analysis. In addition, it analyzes the societal purpose and meaning of a work of art.

Typically, students engage in formal visual analysis. Before you start working on your essay,Be sure to ask your professor whether or not you want to include a context analysis.

The purpose of image analysis

Why is visual analysis important? What helps with learning? There are several things that visual analysis helps with:

  • Allows students to improve their appreciation of art.

  • It allows students to develop the ability to synthesize information.

  • Encourage students to seek answers instead of just receiving them.

  • It encourages higher-order critical thinking and aids in producing sound analysis.

  • By performing visual analysis, students learn how to support and explain their ideas through the study of visual information.

What is formal analysis: art history

When we look at a work of art, we want to know why it was created, who made it and what function it served. Therefore, art historians and researchers pay special attention to the role of artworks in historical contexts.

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Visual analysis is a useful tool for exploring art. It focuses on the following aspects:

  • interpretationthe thing (Iconography). An iconographic analysis is an explanation of the meaning of the work. Art historians try to understand what is shown and why it is presented in a certain way.

  • functional analysis.Many works of art are designed to serve a purpose that goes beyond aesthetics. Understanding this purpose through studying their historical use helps to learn more about works of art. It also creates a link between function and looks.

Formal Analysis: Glossary of Art

Now let's look at some visual elements and principles and learn how to define them.


lineLines can be obvious or formed by placing objects. They can vary in length, width and direction.
FormShapes are two-dimensional. They can be geometric or organic. Familiar shapes help us focus on specific parts of an artwork.
FormThe shapes are three-dimensional. Figures such as cylinders, pyramids and spheres are shapes.
KorColor is the light reflected from objects. Its main characteristics are Hue, Value and Intensity. Colors can also be warm or cool.
textureA texture is the feel, look, or quality of an object's surface. It can be used in two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork.
SpaceSpace is a sense of depth. It also refers to the artist's use of the space within the painting. Space can be positive or negative.


balanceBalance is the distribution of visual elements and object weights, colors, textures, and space. The balance can be symmetrical and asymmetrical.
main emphasisEmphasis defines the center of interest in a painting and captures the viewer's attention. It is usually different from the rest of the work.
subordinationSubmission supports the center of interest. It is a part of a work of art that is minimized to let the emphasis stand out.
rhythmRhythm is the relationship between the elements. Create visual time and create a sense of harmony by repeating certain features.
MovementMovement is the path followed by the viewer's gaze to reach the focal points of a work. Movement is often driven by the lines, shapes, and colors of an artwork.

🏺 How to analyze artwork: different ways

Writing a formal review is a skill that takes practice. Care and attention during the pre-writing phase are essential if you want to create a good, well-structured visual review.

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The visual analysis attachment essentially consists of two components:

  • description of the selected image or object,

  • Interpretation based on visual evidence.

During the pre-writing phase:

  1. Gather general information about an artwork.Describe it briefly. Pay special attention to visual elements and principles:

    (Video) How to Analyze Art | Visual and Contextual Analysis

✔️composition What do you notice first? Why?
✔️Kor What colors are used? How are they organized?
✔️to form Are the characters abstract or realistic?
  1. Develop an interpretation.Think critically. What does the information in your notes mean? How can it be interpreted?

  2. Support your ideas.To do this, query the visuals directly. Avoid generalizing the art and double check your instructions.

How to analyze a painting with the elements of art

To write a great formal visual review, you should consider as many visual elements and principles as you can apply. In theformal analysisPart:

  • Align your description;

  • Address only those elements that are relevant to your essay;

  • Pay attention to visual elements and principles;

  • Introduce and describe the subject of the painting;

  • Explain why you decided to discuss specific points;

  • Discuss the relationship between the visual elements of the artwork;

  • Use jargon.

If you are asked to: acontext analysis, you might want:

  • Focus on the historical significance of a work of art;

  • Discover the style or movement associated with a work of art;

  • Learn about the historical context and public reaction to the artwork.

  • Learn more about the author and how he created the artwork.

Sample ink analysis essay and tips

Here is a template you can use for your essay.

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Description Briefly describe the painting. What do you see? Which areas of the artwork catch your attention?
Analyse In the analysis part, pay attention to visual elements and principles. Describe them and how they come together.
interpretation View the artwork from a cultural perspective. What is the author expressing? What does that mean for the viewer?
Evaluation Finally, express your personal opinion. How do you feel when you look at the artwork?

Now let's look at a test example.

Description Starry Night(1889) is an oil painting by Vincent van Gogh depicting a nocturnal landscape filled with swirling clouds, shining stars, and a glowing crescent moon. The artist uses a mix of warm, cool and neutral colors. The yellow on the blue creates a clear contrast and makes the stars and crescent moon stand out.
Analyse EmStarry Night, van Gogh uses his unique thick brushstrokes. The technique gives depth and rich texture to the painting. Using white and yellow draws more attention to the sky. Vertical lines in the form of a cypress and a church tower break up the composition.
interpretation In his paintings van Gogh contrasts life and death, bright stars and a dark but peaceful city.
Evaluation Starry Nightis a painting that reflects the inner world of Vincent van Goh. It embodies your unique style and personality. The piece has a major impact on modern art.

How to analyze a photo

The analysis of photographs has a lot in common with painting. There are three methods on which photovisual analysis is based: description, reflection and formal analysis. Historical analysis can also be included, although this is optional.

  1. Description. It's about looking closely at the photo and paying attention to every detail. The description must be factual and consist of basic statements that do not express an opinion.

good descriptionbad description
The middle girl is the greatest. She is wearing a white linen dress.The middle girl is the prettiest of the three.
  1. Consideration.In the next step, focus on the emotions that the photo evokes. Here each viewer will have a different opinion and feelings about the artwork. Knowing some historical context can be helpful in building a reflective response.

  2. formal analysis. Think about visual elements and principles. How are they represented in the photo?

  3. Historical Analysis.For a contextual analysis, you need to pay attention to the external elements of the photo. Make sure you understand the context in which the photo was taken. Under what historical circumstances was the picture taken?

Tips for photo analysis essays

Now that we've talked about analyzing a photo, let's look at some useful tips to help you when writing an essay.

✔️ Two❌ No
  • Choose an image with lots of lines, shapes, people, or objects that are placed in an interesting way.

  • When talking about visual principles and elements, use terms like "frame magnetism", "line direction", visual weight and "human figures".

  • Avoid telling the story of the photo or explaining its hidden meaning.

  • Do not create description lists. Instead, use well-organized paragraphs.

  • Avoid spelling mistakes.

How to analyze a sculpture

The visual analysis of a sculpture differs slightly from that of a painting or photograph. However, it still uses similar concepts, it is based on visual elements and principles. When writing about sculpture, consider:

medium size andTechnology.What is the sculpture made of? Is it done in a negative or positive technique?
color and flash.If the sculpture is painted, describe its color. Did the sculptor consider lighting the original location of the sculpture?
human body and scale.If a human body is part of a work of art, consider how it will be represented. Also consider the size of the sculpture in relation to the viewer.
function.What was the purpose of the sculpture? For example, you can mention whether you have a religious belief or honored someone.
composition.See how the sculpture is arranged and if it has a focal point.

Visual Analysis Essay on a Sculpture: Schreibtipps

The analysis of a sculpture consists of the following parts:

  1. Description. Add specific details, e.g. B. What the sculpture might represent. For example, the human character can be an athlete, an ancient god, a poet, and so on. Consider your pose, body structure and clothing.

  2. formal analysis. The focus here is on visual elements and principles. Discuss color, shape, technique and medium.

  3. context analysis. If you decide to do a context analysis, you can talk about the function of the sculpture and how it is conveyedideas and feelings of the time. Mention its historical and cultural importance.

When it comes to analyzing sculptures, you might want to do the sameCollect technical dataif:

  • The size of the sculpture.

  • medium (the material)

  • Current condition (is it damaged, preserved as a fragment or as a whole piece)

  • Exhibition (Was a sculpture part of an architectural setting or was it a work in its own right?)

For example, if you did a visual analysis ofLaocoön and his sons, you can start by looking for these details:


  • Finding place: Discovered in 1506 in a Roman vineyard

  • Current location: Vatican

  • Date: Hellenistic Period (323 BC - 31 AD)

    (Video) How to do a Visual Analysis || Art History

  • Size: Height 208cm; width 163 cm; Depth 112 cm

  • Material: Marmor

  • Current status: Several parts are missing.

Visual Analysis Essay: Advertising Analysis

Images are used in advertising to grab attention or persuade the audience that they need what is being advertised.The purpose of a visual storyline is to generate interest.Advertising uses images to convey information and communicate with audiences.

When writing a visual rating for an ad, keep the following in mind:

  • text elements,

  • Those,

  • illustrations,

  • Composition.

All of this influences how the viewer perceives and reacts to information.

If you're writing about an ad, make onerhetorical analysisyour visual elements. Visual rhetoric aims primarily at analyzing images and extracting information from them. It helps to understand the use of typography, images, and the arrangement of elements on the page.

Think of famous examples of visual rhetoric like thatWe can do it!Chanel №5 poster or commercial. Both examples show how persuasive imagery has been used throughout history.

How to write a visual analysis article about an ad

The presentation of visual elements in advertising is essential. It helps persuade the audience. When analyzing visual arguments, always keep the rhetorical situation in mind. Here are some key elements to focus on:

Public Who is the ad for?
Seek What image is the audience trying to convey?
Project How is the information presented? What colors are used? Are there highlights or repetitions?
strategies Does the image use humor, celebrity, or cultural references to make the point?
Bad Is there text in the image? If so, how does it work in conjunction with the image to achieve the desired effect?
context Who are the characters in an ad? Where are?
bottom What are the implications behind the words used in the image?

✅ How to write a visual analysis document: step by step

Now let's focus on the document itself and how to structure it. But first, look at the list of themes and choose the one that suits you best.

Essay Topics on Visual Analysis

There are many artworks and advertisements that can be analyzed and viewed from different perspectives. Here are some visual analysis writing topics that you may find helpful:


  1. Analysis Gustav KlimtThe kiss(1907-1908.)

  2. The theme of humanitythe son of man(1964) by Rene Magritte.

  3. The use of visual elements inalmond blossomsvonVincent van Gogh(1888-1890.)

  4. identity andseated harlequin(1901) vonPicasso.

  5. Discover Paul Klee topicsthe tree houses, 1918.


  1. The idea behind itllave lindsay(1985) by Robert Mapplethorpe.

  2. Discover the mythical appeal of Robert CapaPhoto the falling soldier(Spain, 1936) bydeath in the makingphoto book

  3. Describetwo boys with fish(2018) vonBelieveMario Macilau series.

  4. Kevin Carterhungry boy and vulture(1993) as a representation of photojournalism.

  5. The story behind Philippe HalsmanAtom-Dali, 1948.


  1. Contemporary Artsjcouple on the seatby Lynn Chadwick (1984).

  2. analyze thembiblicalcontext ofpiety(1498-1499) by Michelangelo.

  3. The use of forms by Louise BourgeoisSpider(1996.)

  4. Analysis of the symbolism behind itThe Thinker(1880) de Rodín.

  5. The historical importance ofThose(1917) by Duchamp.


  1. IfVolkswagen: thinking small(1960) Exchange of ads for advertising.

  2. Analyze the use of numbers inCouncil of California Milk Processors: Do you have milk?(1993) Advertising campaign.

  3. Analyze the use of colors inCoca Cola— The refreshing break(1931.)

  4. Explore the historical context ofWe can do it!(1942) campaign.

  5. The meaning of a slogan in 1947:ADiamondit's foreverby DeBeers.

Visual Analysis Essay Summary

You can use this art analysis template to structure your essay:

How to Write a Visual Analysis Essay: Art and Template Analysis Examples (2)

How do I start an art essay?

Every review begins with an introduction. In the first paragraph, make sure that:

  • the reader knows that this essay is a visual analysis;

  • provided all the necessary background information about a work of art.

Knowing how to present a work of art is also important. If it's a sigh or a photo, it's best to include it on the first page of your review. This allows the reader to see the work and use it as a reference when reading their work.

Examples and tips for artistic theses

Formulating a thesis is an essential step in any essay. Depending on the purpose of your article, you can focus your visual analysis thesis statement on formal elements or connect them to contextual meaning.

To create a strong thesis, you must relate it to the meaning, importance, or impact of an artwork. Your interpretation should present an argument that someone could disagree with.

  • For example, you can consider howformalElements or principles affect the meaning of a work of art. Here are some options you can consider:

Focus on interpreting how formal elements and principles give meaning to the artwork.EmStarry Night, the villa is painted in dark colors but the well-lit windows create a cozy feeling.
Annotate the overall organization of an artwork.Van Gogh's swirling sky draws the viewer's gaze around the painting.
Another option is to relate the painting to other artworks that you have studied or seen.If we compare munchsThe ScreamVan GoghsStarry Night, we can see that a similar swirling technique was used to paint the sky.
  • When your focus iscontextualAnalysis find the connection between the artwork and the artist's personal life or historical event.

How to write passages of text for visual analysis?

Paragraphs of the formal body of analysis consist of two parts: the description and the analysis itself. Let's drink Klimt'sThe kissFor example:

Description The painting shows a couple embracing behind a large golden cloak. Two distinct parts form the image. First, the part of the cloak covering the man has a repeating geometric pattern in black and white. Meanwhile, the second part of the cloak covering the woman has flowers and circles.
Analyse The author predominantly uses warm tones such as golden and bronze brown. Spatial flatness was deliberately used with two-dimensional patterns, except for the couple's exposed skin. Klimt was heavily influenced by the art of Japan, ancient Egypt, and Byzantine Ravenna, which favored two-dimensional perspective styles to emphasize the human subject.
(Video) Qualitative analysis using Template Analysis: What it is and how it may be used

Context analysis includes interpretation and evaluation.

interpretation de gustav klimtThe kissis the mirror of tenderness and passion.klimt workedThe kissduring your golden phase. In paintings from this period, Klimt treats human figures as two-dimensional. They are also surrounded by flat decorations, light in composition and very decorative.
Evaluation The kissit is a very important piece for several reasons. It represents the peak of Klimt's heyday and showcases his distinctive style. The piece is also a fantastic example of the Art Nouveau movement.

Completion of the visual analysis test

As you work on your conclusion, try to complete your work without repeating your thesis. At the end of your essay, you can present an interesting fact. You can also try:

  • Comparea work of art for others;

  • Compare your own ideas about the game with theirsReactionpeople had when it was first revealed.

  • Talk about a work of artMeaningculture and art in general.

📑 Sample visual analysis essay and dating tips

In this section of the article, we share some tips on how to reference graphics in a document. We also provide a writing example.

How to reference a painting in an essay

Knowing how to properly spell an artwork's title is important when working on visual analysis. Citing a painting, photograph, or other visual source requires a little more information than citing a book or article. What you need:

  1. size dimensions

  2. The medium

  3. Current location

  4. party name

  5. Artist name

  6. Date the artwork was created

If you want to cite a painting or artwork you've seen online, you'll also need:

  1. the name of the site

  2. URL tun Website

  3. publication date of the page

  4. date of your access

How to properly accredit a work of art with the APA

Works you see in personJobs you see online
  • Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Name. (Year).

  • title of the painting[material description].

  • Museum, City, State/Country Code.

For example: Picasso, P. (1905).In the agile rabbit[Oil on canvas] Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
  • Artist's Last Name, Artist's First Name. (Year).

  • title of the painting[material description].

  • Museum, City, State/Country Code.

  • Source site name (published date or n.d. if no date is specified).

  • Retrieved from: website url.

For example: Picasso, P. (1905).In the agile rabbit[oil canvas]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. The mead (nd). Received from:

How to properly accredit an artwork in the MLA

Works you see in personJobs you see online
  • artist surname, artist name.

  • Artwork titlethe description.

  • Year of origin, museum, city.

For example: Monet, Claude.Cliff hike at Pourville.1882, Art Institute von Chicago, Chicago
  • artist surname, artist name.

  • Artwork titlethe description.

  • Year of origin, museum, city.

  • page title, URL-Address.

For example: Monet, Claude.Cliff hike at Pourville.1882, Art Institute von Chicago,,

How to properly accredit a Chicago format artwork

Works you see in personJobs you see online
  • artist surname, artist name.

  • painting title.

  • Year of the painting.

  • material description.

  • dimensions if necessary

  • museum, city.

Example: Bacon, Francisco.Study based on Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. 1953. Oil on canvas. 153cm x 118cm. Arts Center Des Moines, Iowa.
  • artist surname, artist name.

  • painting title.

  • Year of the painting.

  • material description.

  • Dimensions.

  • museum, city.

  • Accessed month, day, year.

  • URL

Example: Bacon, Francisco.Study based on Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. 1953. Oil on canvas. 153cm x 118cm. Des Moines, Iowa Art Center. Accessed July 24, 2020.

Finally, here is an exemplary visual analysis of Rodin's sculpture.The Thinkerin APA format. Download it below for free.


Many people believe that works of art must be immortal. In fact, some outstanding masterpieces have outlived their artists for many years, gaining increasing popularity over time. Among them is The Thinker, a brilliant sculpture by Auguste Rodin depicting an athletic young man lost in thought.

Visual analysis of Rodin's The Thinker

Download the free sample

You can also check out the sample essays below for even more ideas.

Thank you for reading our article! We hope you found it useful. Feel free to share it with your friends.

Another read:

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    (Video) Proven Tips for Writing a Critical Analysis Essay [Structure, Writing Steps, Example] | English

❓ Frequently asked questions about visual analysis

📌 How to write a visually argumentative essay?

To write a visual reasoning essay, you need to use rhetorical analysis. Visual rhetoric aims to analyze images and extract the information they contain. It helps to analyze the images and the arrangement of elements on the page.

📌 How to write a contextual analysis of art?

A well thought out context analysis includes:

1. formal analysis,
2. some information about the artist,
3. Information about when and where the part was created,
4. the social purpose of work,
5. its cultural significance.

📌 How are images included in a research paper?

It is best to add the introductionpart of your document. Make sure you cite them correctly based on the format you are using. Don't forget to add your website name, URL and access date.

📌 What does "analyze" mean in art?

Analyzing means not only describing, but also evaluating and synthesizing visual information. To do this, you need to become familiar with visual elements and principles, and see how and why they are used in artwork.

🔍 References


1. Tips for Writing a Textual Analysis Paper
(Curry Mitchell)
(Lia Sophie)
3. How to Do Literary Analysis (It’s Easy!)
(English Nerd)
4. Using ChatGPT for writing in research
5. Use this Example to Write a Project Brief
6. UML Use Case Diagram Tutorial
(Lucid Software)
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