Visual Analysis Essays: What you need to know

We live in an era where people appreciate the presence of images and visual displays. Many organizations, for instance, have embraced presentations where diagrams and illustrations dominate. Not to say that words and content are losing their meaning. However, visual representation is taking precedence in various areas. Studies show that information retention is higher when people can visualize what you are talking about. Also, people are bound to listen when you can engage them using images actively. Such, a mind trick. But I am not surprised that it works for the young and old alike. That aside, in the world of essay writing visual essays is taking the field by storm. Various institutions are equipping their students with this skill. Visual analysis essays are particularly common in history, art history, or English courses.

So what is a visual analysis essay?

Visual analysis is the process of evaluating visual art. This could be a film, painting or picture. The objective here is to determine the artist’s intended purpose. In some instances, the analysis of literature and documentation can be done. More often than not, the objective is to determine historical significance and the influence on politics and art. This form of essay writing is applied in journalism, photography, film, photojournalism, and visual art. The objective is to have this information consumed for educational and entertainment needs. Many classical displays are popular topics for visual analysis due to their historical influence. For many students, this type of essay can be challenging. But I would highly recommend Essay Tank as they are conversant with this kind of paper.

Pointers you can use while conducting a visual analysis essay.

  • Look at the image. Review it based on its composition and how it has been assembled.
  • Examine the meaning of the image for the artist
  • Factor in the historical significance of the image
  • In the modern context, assess the potency of the image in today’s world.

These are but some of the pointers you can look out for when you need context and details for your essay. But visual analysis sometimes requires more in-depth evaluation and analysis. For historical pieces, the report is more strategic and detailed.

Detailed Analysis of Visual Art

Many people, students, especially, are exposed to the formal analysis of art at the entry-level stage. This is a skill that you develop over time. What stands out with such essays is that every piece of art is unique. Check out this website to gain an in-depth understanding of how to write your visual analysis paper. The analysis will differ based on the type of art you are working with. Each artwork will be valuable in its designated way.

General Details

An excellent visual analysis essay is achieved when you acquire all the necessary details about the art or artist. So what are some of the basic details to look out for?

  • Artist. Note the author of the work you are analyzing. Mention them by their last name.
  • Origin and date. Where and when was the art made? Check for geographical and historical locations.
  • Past and current display. Identify the initial location of the art. Also, check where it is presently.
  • Representation – who or what does the work characterize?
  • Techniques – Check for the medium used for this piece and why it was integral for this work. Also, check aspects like material and size.


This section summarizes all the visible characteristics of the piece. Some of the significant things to note in a painting include;

  • The setting used.
  • Characters – who they are and what they symbolize.
  • For classical themes- check for the idea behind the painting.
  • The mood and general lighting of the picture.
  • Check for colors and shapes, especially for abstract paintings.


This is where the real work begins. As a writer, you will be required to analyze your work beyond the basics. Depending on the piece you are working on, incorporate the principles and elements of the design. You will need to get into the mind of the artist and discern what the intricate details embody.

  • Colors. Note how color has been used throughout the work. What are the primary and secondary colors? What is the tone? Does it have warm or contracting tones?
  • Patterns. Check for the redundant patterns in the painting. Also, be keen and identify some of the patterns that are hidden from plain sight.
  • Shapes. Shapes are integral in the analysis process. They can be so distinct or invisible.
  • Lines. Depending on what the artist was going for, they use several lines to describe their work. They range from horizontal, straight to curved, thick, and implied lines.
  • Lighting. What is the source of light for that particular work? Evaluate their significance in the piece of art.
  • Space. With space, the focus is on the painter’s point of view. How have they displayed depth (or not) in their work?

Now Let’s Discuss Structure

Like any other essay, visual analysis papers have a structure; introduction, body, and conclusions. Before you begin writing your paper, create an outline. Many of the general guidelines in essay writing still apply in this case. Review your work and find what stands out for you. Outlines come in handy in improving the quality of your paper.

So for the visual analysis essay, this outline should guide you through any challenges.


The same rules apply for this kind of essay. Introduce your topic and offer some background details about the artist and object under study. Also include the thesis statement. Ensure that the introduction is brief and concise.


This is the most integral part of your essay. The detailed analysis initially discussed should be evident in this section. Depending on the kind of work under study, adjust accordingly. Remember to include your evidence, explanation, and conclusive details. The number of body paragraphs will depend on the length of your essay and other requirements.


Also, here the same essay writing rules apply. Summarize the details. The conclusion should stem from the details you have provided in the body paragraphs. Repeat the thesis statement and make conclusive statements on your work.