Making Pictures Speak
Making Pictures Speak
Image Theory for the Visual Arts
Pictures manipulate thoughts and feelings; that's their job. Making Pictures Speak: Image Theory for the Visual Arts explains how they do this. How do movies compel you to feel angry or happy, or why does a painting make you feel sad or hopeful? This book offers a guide to professional and aspiring visual storytellers alike, on how to control visual media, and create emotional reactions in an audience.
There are many composition books on the market, but no other book answers the question of why or how pictures work. Making Pictures Speak does this with clear, concise text and hundreds of illustrations. With examples from everything between Old Master paintings to contemporary film, and from both students and professional artists alike, this book will explain how images affect the way people feel.
I have taught image theory and been an exhibiting artist for two decades. During that time, I have developed an in-depth knowledge of art theory and history, film theory, the technical ability to create images in paint and pencil, and an eye for what makes a picture good, bad, or great. In a media saturated age such as ours, Making Pictures Speak is essential reading to understand how we are affected by imagery, and how the creators of images can affect others.
Over the years, I have been asked by students which books I recommend to learn more about composition. In the beginning, I had to answer "none" because I was unable to find any worth recommending. More recently, I have been answering: "The book that I'm writing". Now people ask, "When is your book going to be available?" Well, here it is. With over 800 illustration and nearly 500 pages, it is a comprehensive look at how pictures speak to us.
Below are some sample pages.
The complete digital version of Making Pictures Speak is now available. In the meantime, the following are synopsis of the individual chapters, as well as Teasers of each chapter that you may download, sample and peruse at your leisure.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents PDF
Introduction - How to use this book and Perspective and Composition Background
The Introduction outlines the purpose of the book and how to most effectively use it. Following this general outline is useful information regarding the physiological and psychological nature of perception as it relates to composition and perspective, as well as some useful historical background context for both subjects.
Chapter One - Perspective for Emotion and Focus
Chapter One introduces the compositional and emotional affects of perspective in image creation. Topics covered in this chapter describe how perspective: uses tilt and angle to create emotion, creates focus and visual pathways, affects the subject and content of an image, accentuates or diminishes the importance of the viewer.
Chapter One Teaser
Chapter Two - Framing the Subject and the Image Hierarchy
Chapter Two focuses on the importance of the frame surrounding an image, and the placement and orientation of objects within it. Topics covered in this chapter include: placement and importance, hierarchy of importance, framing the subject and directional patterns, cropping, and an introduction to story progression for sequential media.
Chapter Two Teaser
Chapter Three - Space and Silhouette
Chapter Three concentrates on the nature of space and its perceptual activation. Topics covered in this chapter focus on the figure-ground relationship. The design of an object's silhouette, it's relationship to its environment, objects, and the space within the frame are also discussed in their relation to visual storytelling.
Chapter Three Teaser
Chapter Four - Intimacy and Emotion
Chapter Four discusses the nature of the three traditional levels of an image (Foreground, Mid-ground, Background), their technical characteristics, and how those perceptual categories contribute to a sense of depth, focus and emotion in a picture. The issues of visual dynamics, and proximity to the viewer are also discussed in their contribution to the narrative and emotional impact of an image.
Chapter Four Teaser
Chapter Five - Value
Chapter Five is entirely devoted to the effects of brightness, contrast, and our perception of light contribute to realistic depth in a picture, and how an image creates focal and emotional impact on an audience. The relationship of value to storytelling, both still and sequential, is also covered.
Chapter Five Teaser
Chapter Six - Colour
Chapter Six concludes the book with an in-depth look at the perceptual, focal, emotional, symbolic, and metaphoric uses of colour in image creation. The chapter includes an overview of colour terminology and harmonies, as well as their application to image creation in order to accentuate or diffuse other compositional techniques covered in previous chapters.
Chapter Six Teaser