Top Ideas for Writing Visual Analysis Paper

Visual analysis takes a more in-depth look at a piece of art with an aim to reveal the author’s intentions and methods of execution. A visual analysis paper requires you to take an in-depth look at paintings, photographs, images, and various visual art and films.

Typing a visual analysis paper

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The analysis process discusses techniques that the artist has employed and relationships between different figures in the piece of art. You can further look at the symbolism and the use of different colors.

You need to create a vivid image in the mind of your readers as you analyze and discuss the visual art in your visual analysis essay. Here is how you can describe an image

What is Visual Analysis?

Artists use visual art to create a reaction in an audience using different tricks. When you understand how to describe visual art, you will discover the various interesting tricks artists use. This is described as the process of visual analysis.

Artists can make important images in a piece of art larger and lighter, and the less significant ones are mostly in the background and a little darker. You will also understand symbolic colors and what they mean in the artwork.

1.    Look keenly

Visual analysis requires you to look closely at the photograph, painting, or image to provide a vivid description and visual composition. You will explain to your readers how the artist created the image and the meaning.

Closely look at the image and study it before you can do background research. Other people’s opinion might influence the way you see the art. Before you do any research, look closely at the image, form your own opinion, and write down your thoughts.

2.    Use questions

Look at the visual art carefully and use questions to help you discover the various elements in the piece of art. Below are sample questions that can help to direct you on how to write a visual analysis paper

  • What is the art referring to?
  • What are the materials used?
  • What structure is the art made of?
  • What are the reasons for creating art in a particular style?
  • What reactions or emotions does the art bring to the mind?
  • What feelings does the art evoke in the audience?
  • Is there a resemblance between the artwork and the title?

Visual analysis steps

writing a Visual Analysis paper

Each piece of artwork is unique, and you need to understand why a specific piece of art is important. The following detailed analysis and steps can guide you on how to write a visual analysis essay.

1.    Provide general information

Identify general information about the art and the artist. Clearly describe the subject and what the artwork represents.

Provide information about the artist, the date, and where the artwork was created. You can provide details on the current location of art and past locations as well.

2.    Describe the artwork

Describe to the readers what the painting represents and summarize all the artwork from all angles. This helps to create a clear image in your readers’ minds.

Write about the main features. Describe the leading characters and their role. In your visual analysis essay, identify the theme, painting shapes, and different colors. Make sure your audience can experience the mood of the visual art through your visual analysis essays.

3.    Perform an In-depth analysis

You will perform a deeper analysis of and look at the elements of the artwork and the painting techniques and composition. Move past the basics to detailed analysis and look at the types of lines in the artwork like thick, curved, horizontal lines.

You will also analyze the shapes and patterns, light, and how color is used. Explain the significance of different colors in the painting. Look into how the artist has used space, time, and motion.

How to write a visual analysis essay: structure

Visual analysis essays use the typical five-paragraph essay structure to discuss the details of visual art that stand out as you relate it to your thesis statement. Below is how you will structure your analyzed image in your essay.

1.    Introduction

You will write the basic information and summarize what you will discuss. Write about the artist’s name, year, and purpose of the art. Write something interesting about art and make sure the introduction is engaging and grabs the attention of your readers.

2.    Thesis statement

Visual Analysis

Write the points of your analysis that you will discuss in the body section. Your thesis should also state the meaning of the image.

3.    Body

Write in detail about the artwork and support your thesis statement. Organize your thoughts and write coherently from one idea to another as you explore the art in detail.

4.    Conclusion

Instead of repeating the thesis statement, finalize your visual analysis essay with your thoughts on the visual. Discuss your observation based on the analyzed points in the body section and how the elements and the artist’s design principles bring out meaning in the piece of art. You can also try to

  • Compare how the audience who saw the art first received it and how people today interpret the same art
  • Speculate on how the artist’s view would evolve over time
  • Compare the artwork with other similar pieces of art
  • Suggest how the image, picture, or painting fits into art or the advertisement campaign of a specific company


You can include a copy of your image in your visual analysis essay. Make sure you include information about visual art in the introduction. You can include the following

  • The title of the artwork in italics or you can underline it.
  • The name of the artist
  • The date of the artwork
  • Where the work was published and the name of the place where it is currently

Visual analysis essay topics

Essays are usually descriptive, reflective and others are argumentative, but visual analysis essays are different. There are no visual analysis essay topics provided in this kind of essay. Instead, students are supposed to analyze and interpret the art and come up with a topic.

The topic you choose is critical, and it will give direction to your visual analysis essay paper. Also, you need to make sure your topic is engaging and unique enough to create a strong impression on your audience.

Key takeaway

Visual analysis focuses on the form, theme, and execution of the artwork. A writer analyzes a painting photo or other visual art to create an image in the readers’ mind and tell the story behind the art.

Visual analysis essays are unique, and students can develop their analytical skills as they take a deep look at art. When you perform an in-depth analysis, you reveal the artist’s story in the art. These ideas can help you to write a concise and well-analyzed visual analysis paper. For help on visual analysis essay, top ideas click here.                                  

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