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How To Write A Visual Analysis Essay?

By hwa_cognate | Publish On: October 22, 2022 | Posted In:
How To Write A Visual Analysis Essay?

A visual analysis essay is usually written by people who pursue English, art, or art history. They use visual analysis to understand the unseen message or to have a subjective outlook. People working on visual analysis essays usually describe the image and its composition. 

If you are looking for a guide that will help you write a decent visual analysis essay, you are right. Through the content of this article, you will learn how to look analyse a piece of art and write a visual analysis essay.

What Is Visual Analysis?

Visual analysis refers to seeing and analysing a piece of visual art. Visual art can either be a painting, photography, film, or anything that pleases you visually. Visual analysts dissect the subject matter to look for the artist’s subjective viewpoint or their method to execute the art. 

A visual essay is written to analyse the historical significance of various cases. Visual analysis essays also help us understand the impact of art on culture, politics, and the society of the time. Read further to know how to write a formal visual essay analysis.

As mentioned earlier, a visual analysis essay is written mostly by students pursuing Art History, English, and Communications. Visual art mediums (painting, journalism, etc.) are usually intended for fun or informative purpose. But visual analysis goes deeper than the fun element. It focuses on form, execution, themes, and the compositional features that add up to make the masterpiece.

A common subject for visual analysis is Classical paintings. For their depth and historical significance, they are a perfect choice. These paintings are loaded with techniques, symbolism, and an outstanding choice of colours by the artists. This deeper and keen interpretation of any visually pleasing art is the process of visual analysis.

How to Conduct a Visual Analysis: What to Look For While Writing a Visual Analysis Essay

Whether you are in the field of journalism or art, writing a visual analysis essay is a recurring challenge. There are a few essential points that you must know while analysing a visual art (painting).

Get basic knowledge about the subject matter

  • Who is the painter? What was the period when they painted the art piece? 
  • What was the painter’s purpose or objective when he was painting?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the historical context?

Having an insight into these points will give you a basic knowledge about the context to write a proper visual analysis essay.

Describe the Painting 

Now that you are familiar with the painter and his background, it is time to describe what the painting illustrates. This is an abstract section where the analyst studies all the visible aspects of the piece. Mentioned below are a few major aspects that you can look for in a painting:

  • Characters or Figures
  • Identify the themes or story portrayed
  • If it is a modern/abstract painting, look for shapes, techniques, and colours.
  • Analyse the lighting and overall atmosphere of the painting.
  • Identify and read the setting.

Detailed Analysis 

Art is not just about the foreground elements, but so much more. Next is to analyse the artist’s intricate techniques and the basics of composition. Mentioned below are a few elements that you can analyse:

  • Lines 
  • Shapes 
  • Use of Light
  • Colours 
  • Patterns and space

When analysed from a broader perspective, elements like Variety, Unity, Symmetry/Asymmetry, Points of Emphasis, Proportions, and the Use of Rhythm.

When working on visual analysis, keep in mind to explore all the elements. Visual art is not limited to just painting but is well-applied to other mediums like journalism and photography.

Structuring the Paper: How to Write a Visual Analysis Paper

When sorting the structure for your visual analysis essay, the four-paragraph essay structure is your safest bet.

  • Introduction: An introduction is the first step in your visual analysis essay. It provides your reader with basic information on your subject matter and highlights the discussion points.
  • Thesis: Your thesis covers the major points in your essay.
  • Body: Along with the major aspects, the body of your visual analysis essay also discusses all the crucial details.


After discussing the major aspects, present your views on the work. Your observations should sync with the topics you covered in your essay to make it authentic.

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