Concept and Roles of Posters and How To Design Them Effectively

A poster written or printed notice of a fairly large paper, displayed on notice boards or walls to communicate to the general public. A Frenchman by name Toulouse Lautrec is credited as the father of poster designing. There are two main types of posters. They are words or text poster and pictorial poster. A written or text poster contains text only while the pictorial poster contains largely illustrations with few texts or without text.

Poster as a communication tool plays a vibrant role in the activities of members of the society. Some of these are:

1. Posters are used to inform members of the general public about societal issues such as health issues, political issues and also about the civic responsibilities of societal members.

2. Posters educate or warn us against any social vices and other negative tendencies such as smoking, alcohol, etc. that can erode society and its members from peaceful and good communal living.

3. Posters advertise products and services in the society.

4. Posters are used for announcing events, ceremonies and programs to be held or organized in the society.

5. Posters are used for inviting members of the general public to organized occasions and events.

6. Posters are used to persuade people to do something or take a certain course of action.

7. Posters are used to praise or popularize some good behavioural patterns or people who demonstrated that attitudes and to criticize or condemn wrongdoings.

There are several features of posters effective in the playing of their roles. These qualities make a designed poster a powerful educative tool.

1. The colours used for the execution of posters must be bright and attractive to be seen from afar and must receive the attention of passers-by.

2. The typeface selected for the designing of posters must be legible. It must be a typeface that is bold and clear so that it can be seen and read from a far distance.

3. A good poster must carry a brief message or information. The information on it should not be too many neither should it be ambiguous and confusing.

4. The design employed for the production of posters must be simple in design. The design should not be distractive. Its description must be easily digested by all categories of people, despite the difference in their age groups, sex, occupation, and educational background.

5. Good illustrations must be used for the production of posters. The illustration must relate to the text or the message written on the poster. It must harmonize with the message the poster carries.

6. The information written on the poster must be clear and self-explanatory. It should be very understandable. It must be written in plain and straightforward language.

7. A good poster must have an effective layout. The arrangement of the text and illustrations must be pleasing and attractive to the eyes of viewers.

Designing a poster

The following steps outlined explain how good posters can be designed by graphic artists.

1. The first stage of poster designing is the making of thumbnail sketches. This is the putting down of ideas in the mind on paper. This includes indicating the space for photographs, text, etc.

2. This is the next stage of poster designing is the making of the rough sketches. One of the sketches is selected and expanded with the text and illustrations neatly drawn.

3. The third stage is the comprehensive sketches. This is the making of an accurate layout showing type and illustration which is suitable as a finished design.

4. The last stage is the camera-ready stage. The layout is painted in its respective colour schemes and it is ready as a presentable design.

The Significance of Environmental Graphics

Environmental graphic design (EGD) is a design profession embracing many design disciplines including graphic design, architecture, industrial design and landscape architecture. Practitioners in this field are concerned with the visual aspects of way finding, communicating identity and brands, information design, and shaping a sense of place. Some examples of work produced by environmental graphic designers include the design and planning of sign programs, way finding consulting, exhibit and interpretive design, entertainment environments, retail design, information design including maps, as well as memorial and donor recognition programs. Environmental graphics have been divided into three main areas. These areas have been explained below.

1. Signage and Way finding
Signage and way finding programs communicate site and navigational information to a viewer. Signage helps to identify and brand a specific place, and when used as part of a larger way finding program helps people to determine orientation and navigate a complex environment with ease. Some of the signs that assist in way finding include road signs, Pictograms on packages, traffic signs etc.

2. Interpretation
Interpretive environments tell a story or communicate an idea or theme. Most often recognized as exhibit design, it also includes projects such as historical sites. They educate people on how the site impacted on the life and activities of some famous historic icons in the society.

3. Place making
Place making takes a more conceptual approach in that it involves designing a distinctive image for a site. It typically focuses less on communicating information. It focuses more on a site’s branding, architecture and interior design, among other things.

Environmental graphics are relevant in our lives. The listed points discuss their benefits.

1. They aid in the smooth human movement in the community- Signs and symbols found in our environment ensures free and smooth movement of members of the society such as road users, motorists and pedestrians. Without them would have resulted in chaos and disorder in our movement in the community.

2. They give warnings about dangers and hazards- Pictograms on packages of products warns us against hazardous chemicals that can be a threat to our health. The best ways of handling equipments and products are relayed to us by the help of these pictograms and signs.

3. They give directions as to handling situations and object – Road signs and markings, aid motor users to know how to handle hazards on the road. Package symbols give direction on how to handle and use products without any health implications.

A Description of Some Graphic Design Products

Graphic communication media such as calendars, postage stamps, pennants, buntings and flags are utilised in our daily activities as a people, society or nation. It is now a popular feature of ceremonies and events like weddings, festivals, Independence Day and others to design calendars, buntings to mark the occasion or event. Thus, graphic artists need to know how these products are like in the realms of art so that it will ease their pain when such a project is assigned or offered to them by instructors and clients.

Calendar

A calendar is a well designed one-page or multiple paged paper pieces used to organize days for societal use. It usually has a chart showing a year divided into months, weeks and days.
Various institutions and associations have designed their own calendars which are mostly given to clients and other members of the general public as a way of broadcasting the activities of the institution. Calendars of this nature bear the name of the company, the logo and the popular trademark of the company. The arrangements of the months should be sequenced so that gleaning of information from it will be very easy. The colours used should be harmonious and the typography style must be legible. If an illustration couples the text, it shouldn’t be distractive neither should it be ambiguous. It must be descriptive of the activities of the company.

Postage Stamp

This is a carefully designed paper piece usually in small dimension that is affixed on a letter or document to be mailed as a proof of payment of the mail. The amount or fee is inscribed on it as well as the country of origin. Mostly, there are illustrations on postage stamps that depict the culture of the country of origin. For instance, a postage stamp from Ghana may depict pictures of interesting sites in Ghana such as the independence square, national flag, Kakum national park, picture of the present and past presidents, abundant natural resources in the country etc. The backs of postage stamps are glued so that it can be affixed on letters.

Pennants
It is a miniature flag usually shaped like a triangle or pentagon with designed text, logo, emblem or symbol of a group or association. They have several functions such as identification, decoration, signaling, education and advertising. It is usually exchanged as a sign of greeting or as a sign of goodwill. It is offered to people as a souvenir item.

Buntings

These are colourful small flags joined together with a string and hanged along streets during festive occasions or hanged along the interiors of church buildings during festive occasions such as Christmas, Easter, and Weddings etc. The colours of the flags must symbolically agree with the event. Sometimes, artists cleverly choose colours that harmonizes with the attire the couple holding the wedding feast would wear. This implies that, artists who are offered such projects must carefully think through and design the buntings so that the general appearance will be suitable for the occasion.

Flags

This is a decorative cloth with special colours, emblems or logos peculiar to a group, association, religious or political denomination or nation. The choice of colours, symbols or emblems do have symbolic or philosophical meanings that are linked to the ideologies, beliefs and values of the group, association or country.

Tips To Help You Cut Wedding Photography Costs

Wedding photos can never be scraped out of your wedding budget. These are the treasures that will always help you relive your big day and you therefore want to have every important moment of the day captured. Wedding photographers do an incredible job with or without your guidelines through the process. However, just like any other part of the wedding, it helps when you play an active role in the wedding photography. This way, you can cut costs on the important photography services without affecting the quality of your wedding photos.

Tip 1 – Know the costs

There is no way you will be able to work on a money saving strategy if you are not even sure what the average cost of the services should be. Conducting a simple research on wedding photography services and comparing quotes can help you know the expected amount for the day. Remember the props, skill set and equipment is what will make the costs vary from one service provider to another. But at least when you know the average, you will be able to choose the best and negotiate to save you some money.

Tip 2 – Think local talent

Hiring a local photographer saves you money in the sense that you will not have to pay high amounts to arrange transportation to the venue. Even when doing a destination wedding, it is most advisable that you search for local photographers as compared to bringing one along from your home area. However, even with this approach you should make sure that you go through all elements to ensure that the photographer is qualified and bound to fetch you the kind of results that you expect.

Tip 3 – Hire the professional for less the time

This is a simple way of dramatically reducing photography costs. You can have the photographer come in only in those most important parts of the ceremony and have your groomsmen and bridesmaids take photos of the rest of the ceremony. This is especially so for service providers who charge on an hourly basis. When they have fewer photos to take and process, the charges on overall hours will definitely be much lower. With digital cameras now being easy to use and still produce high quality photos; you can still generate other wedding photos from other sources too.

Tip 4 – Make your bookings early

The fact is that there are wedding photographers that offer discounts for early bookings. Secure one as early as possible to enjoy such offers. Booking early also comes with the advantage of negotiating your way to better charges before the price hikes take place, maybe as a result of the season and inflation. If possible, make the affordable payment in full to avoid the effects of price changes.

Tip 5 – Keep the album simple

Wedding day photos are very important, but you do not necessarily have to go for very expensive album options. Apart from having only the most important photos albumed, choose an album style that is high quality but affordable at the same time. Choose affordable materials and keep fancy details minimal.

Beginner’s Guide to the Basic DSLR Camera Accessories

When you’ve just bought your first DSLR, the wealth of accessories can be downright confusing. A rule of thumb is to invest only in those that serve your purpose and desired photography style. To make this selection easier for you, here is a basic guide to the main components you should consider:

1. Backup batteries

You may not have expected it, but backup batteries are a must-have; here is why: you’ll be surprised how quickly you can go through one charge when you’re grasping the basics of photographing with your new camera. You’ll take long to learn how it works and calibrate it for each photo, with the battery on for all this time. If you’re out and about, you will be reaching for that spare set of batteries.

2. An off-camera flash

The built-in flash does more harm than good to your photos. Better picture quality is achieved through an external, better performing flash. Note that this will require even more battery power, so be prepared.

3. Shutter release

Be it wired or wireless, a shutter release is what helps you take a photo when you can’t actually touch the camera – e.g. when you are in the picture too, but also when you’re shooting macros (close-ups) or long exposure scenes. By releasing the shutter remotely you avoid vibrations or moves that would ruin the result.

4. Lens pen

It’s hard to avoid getting dust, water etc. on the lens, which is why you need something reliable to clean it. A blower is a good specialty tool, but may be a strange thing for a novice user. A lens pen is a much more intuitive tool, with two handy ends – one for brushing and the other for effective cleaning.

5. Neck strap

Photography doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Avoid neck pain from carrying your camera or other troubled by purchasing a suitable, protective neck strap that you can adjust.

6. Polarizer filter

The name may be confusing, but its job is very simple. This lens accessory helps decrease reflections (such as from glass or various shiny surfaces), at the same time making colors look brighter through saturation increase.

7. A very stable tripod

Tripods can be extremely useful to beginners too, if they’re learning long exposure or night photography. Make sure you select a sturdy and very stable one, so that there is no movement while the camera is shooting. The photo sharpness will be radically improved.

8. White balance cap for lens

This lens cap is a better replacement for the gray card, which helps you set the correct white balance for every photograph. This will make every picture look the ay you want it to.

G Sonali finds the items above are DSLR camera essentials needed by every beginner, regardless of what they are trying to obtain with their new device. As you get specialized on a certain type of photography, you can learn about the more complicated upgrades and navigate the huge array of accessories with more certainty.

Why Aerial Photography Is Being Used in Different Areas

Photography is well known for conserving the best moments of one’s life and this is why we all love to have memories of some of the best moments of our life in the form of photographs but do you know that there are many aspects of photography and the fields where you can use it. In today’s time, we see huge advertisements of various brands where a picture of the model is clicked with a product? Along with this, there are many advertising fields where photography plays a big role, read along to know more about it.

The real estate business is growing in leaps and bounds and there are many people who are considering it as a good option to start a new business but with so many people investing in this venture and this is the reason why it has become a necessity to stand out the crowd. Aerial photography services has become very popular as with the help of this one can ensure to provide the full detailing of a place to the buyer.

The best part about getting the picture clicked off a building for sale or a particular location is that a person can easily get an idea that what exactly a place look like just by sitting in front of his computer or even on his mobile, aerial photography services provides this facility where it becomes possible to click the pictures of a place in a wider way and what can be better than giving the idea to the buyer about what they can except in a location.

Most of the people find it feasible to sit at their homes at look at the pictures of a site rather than going there and this is where photography plays a great role. With the help of these services, it becomes easy to provide the view of the location which is even not possible to see in person. This view takes the pictures of a place in a way that one can get the whole idea about the location.

Real estate owners find it no less than a challenge to compete with the people who are already there in the market thus it is always a good idea to look for the options which are not used by many people. All a person need to do is to hire a professional photographer who can ensure to get the best photographs for the potential buyers who will see the pictures to get the rough idea about the locations.

This view of photography is also an excellent option when it comes to capturing the wide locations which are otherwise tough to capture in a single frame, with the help of this, as a real estate owner one can ensure to get the best of his business.
So, if you are also in real estate then you should consider this photography for your business as it can easily help you grow.

18 Top Character Design Tips for Animation Films

Character design is not that simple as it looks in cartoons, movies and animations. It takes long hours of designers to create a character for a particular story. Character designing may have complexities, but the designers always aim to keep them simple. It’s more than just readable features, clean lines that are needed in a character. It is also about where to emphasize and where to downplay based on the personality of the character in the story. We have seen Disneyland cartoons, Tom & Jerry, Ice Age movies, Jungle Book and so many more, and each personality in each one of the afore mentioned has made a strong influence in our minds to remain alive forever. To start creating a character is very complicated but if one has the idea of the character in the mind then following tips would be helpful.

01. Know the Audience

The audience of the any creative project is important in determining its framework. It should be the most significant step on the way to designing characters. The characters designed for kids are brighter in colours and have got very basic shapes. If one is working for clients projects then you need to follow the character specifications shared by your client.

02. Know the Positioning

In which position and how the character will be introduced in the story also plays an important role in character designing. In what medium character will be seen also has a part to show here. Generally small mediums like mobile phone do not need intricacies in the characters as the big screens need. Besides, whatever the medium is, character designing always starts with paper, pencil, lots of sketches, ideas and more.

03. Analyse Other Designs

You should make an analysis of why some characters are successful and some are not. Do a proper research and through study of the various characters appearing in cartoon channels, animation movies, advertisements, etc.

04. Your Character should be Unique

Whether its shape, its personality, its attire or its colour, animation characters must be unique to stand out in the crowd. It could be an animal or a human or beast, the character designs need to be interesting to draw the attention of the people.

05. Drawing Line and Styles to Emphasize

Lines whether thick or thin line should be even and easily sculpted to create a personality that is cute, approachable and influencing. People demand for accuracy in the creation and have become very watchful of the perfection of the personality that is projected in the stories.

06. Magnify the characteristics

If the characters area magnified then it captures the attention of the viewers as it appears larger than life. It also helps audience in identifying the character and recalling it forever besides enhances the personal traits of the character. It could include – big nose, bulging eyes, hands with 2 fingers, big head sizes.

07. Colours Make a Big Difference

Choose colours carefully; as colours make a big difference and help your creation become noticeable in the crowd. Colours like black, blue, grey projects negative intentions, while light colours – white, blues, pinks and yellows describes innocence and purity.

08. Attire and Accessories

Attire and accessories speaks about the traits of the character in the story, besides also about its social status. Lots of diamond and jewelleries stands for riches and untidy and messy cloths indicate poor lifestyle. Besides accessories like swords, flying tools just adds to the personality and the role of the character.

09. 2D or 3D?

You need to decide how you want to project your character and how it should look from different angles. 2D or 3D features adds a completely new look to even a flat picture. If your creation is going to run on 2D or 3D platforms then you need to plan the height, weight and shape of the character very carefully as even a small mistake would change the shape of the character and make it look very different from what you envisioned.

10. Personality & facial expression

Personality of the character is a very important rule to follow while creating it. How it reacts in different situations, how it changes its expression reveals the role of the character. Whether the character is dull or sporty or a genius or a friendly one or has a destructive and villainous nature. Facial expression says it all. Movement of eyes, nose or lips can tell whether one is explosive, irritating, jealous, sad, happy, worried or scared. One can read the emotions from facial expressions depending on its temperament.

11. Character with goals

Whether one is watching a movie, reading a story or watching an animation, the goal of the lead character is the driving force behind a character’s personality. To create a dramatic angle to the story, character should be given goals like – solving mysteries, helping needy people, protecting people from evil characters.

12. Creating a background

A story to back the character makes it more interesting. Where it came from, what are the life changing events in his life, what made it think about takin up a challenging goal, etc. can add interesting and inspiring angles to the story.

13. Investigate and learn

It is not necessary to follow the rule book every time. It also depends on the mood of the artist how the personality of the character will be created. You should be open to experiments that can lead to interesting results.

14. Using paper and pencil is not a bad idea

It is always good to draw your character on paper first. Most of the interesting characters of yesteryears were drawn when drawing with the help of software was a distant dream. While working on paper many interesting things happen, this may not be possible on computers. Besides, it gives a good feel to the artist of creating something with one’s own hands and a feeling of giving life to a picture drawn on paper.

15. Let people share their thoughts

This will help you in understanding if you character is able to interact with the audience or if you are able to put the personality you wanted to in your creation. Whether the character is able to express its traits as planned.

16. Think beyond your plans

It is necessary as an artist to envision your creation on different platforms. How it would look on 2D and 3D platforms. Which platform would enhance the traits better and on which platform audience would love to see it?

17. Right environment makes it popular

Environment in which the creation dwells and interacts is important to make audiences feel the character. It strengthens the life of the character in the viewers mind.

18. Breathe life into the Characters

Your creation should look a real life character. Its facial expressions, the environment it lives in and the personality traits in every situation that is close to real world characters make it accepted by the audience.

My Top Summer Anime Series

1. Alderamin of the Sky

This show really took me by surprise. It was suggested to me by my brother; not knowing anything about it, I simply sat down and watched it. Boy, am I glad I did. At this moment, it still has one episode left in the season and I am dying for it to come out. The progression of the story line can seem a bit slow, but fret not, every minute of it is amazing. The show has quite a bit of comedy in it, but dark times peer around every corner. Like a light switch, the show can go from making you laugh to making you almost break down in tears.

The main story mostly focuses around two main characters: Ikta and Yatorishino. They are childhood friends; Ikta was an apprentice of a scientist and Yatorishino is a child of the Igsem family, which is known for their exceptional swordsmanship. Ikta accompanies Yatori when she leaves to take her officer’s exam; however, they end up getting shipwrecked along with a few others and the princess of the kingdom. Behind enemy lines, the group finds a way to make it back safely with the princess. After returning, their “reward” is an officer rank, forcibly making them join the military, much to Ikta’s disapproval. From there, the adventure only continues to grow more and more complex and dark. Along the way, Ikta proves through his actions that he may be lazy, but he is the best commander this army has ever seen.

2. Orange

I’m on a roll with these slice of life anime series, and this one throws a little bit of supernatural stuffs into the mix. Like all slice of life anime series, the series itself lives and dies with the characters. Orange does a terrific job of getting you attached to the characters, especially the main three: Kakeru, Suwa, and Naho. Their friends, acting as supporting characters, also add a lot to the story line. This show will take you on a rollercoaster of happy moments followed by feels that are then followed by you yelling at your TV. Personally, I yelled at the TV for Naho to hold Kakeru’s hand several times.

Orange is an anime that holds a basis in alternate, or parallel, universes. A group high school friends, now adults, meet on the tenth anniversary of the death of one of their friends. The friend, Kakeru, died of suicide. The friends talk about their regrets in not being able to save Kakeru, and ultimately decide to chance their luck on writing letters to their past selves. They know it won’t affect the world that they live in, but maybe, just maybe, there is another world where they can save their dear friend. The story begins with the same group of friends, at high school age, receiving mysterious letters from their future selves.

3. Re:Zero

Technically this show started in the Spring, but it just finished up this summer, so it counts! Boy, was this show a rollercoaster. Every episode had me on the edge of my seat, it’s easy to see why it became so popular. The main character, Subaru, gets put through so much hell that you can feel for him. There are times where he is happy, and it makes you happy, and times where he is completely desperate, and it makes you want to cry. The show starts off kind of comedic, that’s before Subaru dies for the first time, and you realize that this show is a lot deeper than most of the shows in the same genre. This show is animated beautifully, has deep, loving characters, and just overall a terrific anime series.

Subaru is just your normal, run of the mill guy making his way through life. However, after exiting a convenience store, he is somehow magically transported to another world. As he figures out, he is able to communicate with people in this world no problem, but his clothes and items are mysterious to the people here. He soon meets Emilia after having a run in with a couple of thieves, who at the time introduces herself as Satalia. Emilia is a half-elf, one that resembles the late evil witch and strikes fear into peoples hearts. After meeting their untimely end later, Subaru then realizes that in this world he has a mysterious power. Whenever he dies, he returns to a specific point in the past where he can then do everything over again. How will he use this power? Will he be able to keep his sanity after seeing and reliving deaths over and over?

Well, there you have it. My top three anime series for this season! This season has a bunch of awesome anime shows and I am sad to see them go. I can’t wait for the last episode of Alderamin of the Sky. I don’t really see anything that peaks my interest for the fall season, but I’ll just have to wait and find out!

Weekly Review: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash – ReVisited

General

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, one of my favorite anime series. Lately, I’ve found myself going back and watching anime shows that I’ve seen before. Grimgar is one of them, and also others, like The Irregular. Going back and watching Grimgar again made me realize how much I really love this series, and even more now that I’ve watched the dub through as well. This got me thinking, what is it about this show that makes me like it so much? Well, a lot actually. The plot, characters, development, everything is well and good. However, there is also some bad, which many people point out.

Likes

Let’s start off with what this anime series does good and that I like. It’s pretty easy to start out with saying that the characters are quite amazing in this show. They are not your typical, over powered protagonist that you find in other fantasy-like anime shows. No, they are human. Breakable. Which also makes them relatable. Most of the time our protagonists go out and wreck shit as soon as they enter a fantasy world, but this show is different. We get to see the struggle of their survival, and also their struggle to adapt to this vastly different world. I mean, come on, they were thrown into a world and told to fight or die, it’s supposed to be a struggle.

I also love the way they develop the characters, for example Mary and Haru. Haru, the leader of the group, takes over the role after an untimely death. He doesn’t just become the leader, he has to work at it. He realizes his own flaws, and then tries to improve upon them. He messes up, again, and again, but picks himself back up and tries to do better. As for Mary, we get to see her transition from a solo, quiet girl to someone who openly trusts her party members. It’s quite amazing to see.

Dislikes

I, personally, don’t really have any dislikes as far as the story goes. However, there are a few things that bother me with the animation. Sometimes it just got way too sloppy. For instance, there is a scene where Yume and Haru are talking while Yume is throwing knives. She goes on and on about the knives and how her master bought her one, so she bought one just like it. So that means, one plus one equals two. Except… she’s throwing three knives; come on, man. Another example is when Ranta is running away from Death Spots, his helmet was left on the floor below, so he is running around without his helmet, no biggie, right? Well, except for one cut of his chase scene where he is clearly wearing a helmet. It’s little things like these that kind of take away from the overall experience.

Dub vs Sub

I know there are some die hard fans for either side of this debate, but I personally like both. However, if a good dub is available, you better believe I’m going to choose that over the sub. So what about Grimgar, is it good? Yeah, actually pretty damn good. The voices match up very well. The single complaint I have about it is the fact that Ranta’s voice actor changes mid-way through the show, which sucks. A lot.

Overall

All in all, through the love and the hate, I really love this series. It’s a twist on a already exhausted niche, so it didn’t get a whole lot of credit. I personally love the way they took something that has been done to death, and put a new spin on it. I can’t wait to get my hands on the light novels, if they are ever officially translated into English.

Choosing Artwork for Your Home – How to Interpret a Painting

First look for the narrative, simply describe what you see. Who or what is depicted, what’s going on? If you see people and things, the painting is figurative; if you see lines and splashes – go for non-figurative. The name of the painting might come in handy, especially when it comes to Dali.

What seems to be more important for the artist – representation or expression? Compare the paintings in the styles of hyperrealism and expressionism – you can always tell if the images look idealized or expressly distorted.

Notice the feelings you get looking at the painting, the general impression produced by the entire painting and its elements – later you will dig deeper to understand what inspired those emotions. There is a reason why you like one painting more than the other. Your taste in art is as unique as your taste in food or clothes, inspired by your background, upbringing and even professional expertise.

THE BACKROUND

Collect information on the artist and the historical background. To analyze “Guernica” by Picasso, you need to know that Guernica is a town demolished by the Nazi, and you have to read up on the essential features of cubism. To interpret the image of kissing people covered by a piece of cloth in Magritt’s “The Lovers”, whatever you guess by looking at the painting falls flat once you know that the artist’s mother got drowned in the river, and when found, a piece of cloth was wrapped around her head. So, don’t rely on your skills and taste too much, there are things you need to KNOW before you start making assumptions.

The historical background of the paintings itself is important. Was the artist an innovator, did he start a new trend or movement, whose steps did he/she follow? What experiments was he involved with? How was the painting perceived by the contemporaries? Claude Monet started impressionism with the painting “Sunrise. Impressions”. Malevych started suprematism as a development on abstractionism, laying out the new artistic theory of the color, the form and the composition of the painting. The rough lines and raw colors in the fauvist paintings may be traced back to Van Gogh. Do you think there is something new suggested in the painting you are looking at, or is there anything at all distinguishing about it?

THE GENRE

This is easy. There is a limited number of genres in fine arts for you to categorize the painting: is it a portrait, landscape, seascape, cityscape, genre painting, battle piece, historical painting, religious or mythological painting, literary painting, self-portrait, animalistic painting, nude, still life, or an abstract painting?

THE STYLE / MOVEMENT

The fastest way to interpret a painting is to determine what movement it belongs to, or at least what movements and styles influenced the artist. The style influences the choice and treatment of the subject, the color, the perspective and the symbols.

Impressionists, for instance, experimented with unusual perspectives – bird’s eye or frog’s eye; their brushwork is visible and the colors are laid separately to mix in the eye of the viewer rather than on the palette. In impressionism the light is more important than the people it bounces off – quite different from romanticism.

In romanticism you have to be a poet, a revolutionary, a gypsy or a vagabond to make your way into the painting – they appreciated the bold spirit, the freedom and the people who were different.

Primitivist (naive) artists depicted objects in a solid monumental manner, as seen by a child who perceives the world as a whole, without analyzing it and breaking into unnecessary components.

In symbolism you do need to look for the hidden meaning, and it’s absolutely pointless in pop art, op art, art nouveau or hyperrealism. Each style and genre sets forth its requirements, so brush up on the movement the artist belongs to before you proceed.

THE COMPOSITION

Now go back to the subject and your first impressions about the painting. It’s time to analyze how the artist made you feel the way you felt using the artistic means it his/her disposal. The composition is the position and the balance of the objects and figures in the space, the interrelation of their size, coloring, shading etc. How exactly does all that impact your perception? Let’s dig in.

First consider the size of the painting. The more impressive the subject, the higher the emotions it appeals to, the bigger it is. Religious, mythological paintings are often huge – their massive energy makes you shiver. It is pretty understandable with figurative paintings like Rafael’s “The Sistine Madonna”, and more subtle with color field paintings of Mark Rothko. People are often overwhelmed with religious tremor in the presence of his artwork, and the size factors in. Also, the subject often calls for larger canvases – battle scenes need space and cannot be fitted into a smaller painting, while some subjects will get lost unless depicted in a smaller size.

Now take a look at the form of the canvas – you might take it for granted, but it does influence the subconscious feeling you get when enjoying a piece of art. Round and oval canvases produce the impression of serenity and completeness, they are often picked for feminine, soft portraits, like Ingre’s “Turkish bath”. Rectangular paintings – vertical or horizontal – are more complicated. While widely used in landscapes, the horizontal format may serve to diminish the figure portrayed, impose or convey some limits, as you can see in Vrubel’s “Demon”. Vertical format ensures monumentality and steadiness.

Now let’s proceed to analyzing the center of the composition. There is an optical center in the middle – you will notice that the center of the composition, the major element will never be placed there, otherwise the scene will look artificial. The center of the composition will always be the most striking element, and the rest will just serve to make it more expressive. The artist may use various means to achieve this effect – the color contrasts, light and shade effects, size of objects and distance between them. Secondary elements are depicted with less detail and vigor – they have to bring forward the center, not block it.

Notice the way your eyes travel the painting – intuitively you will start at the center and will proceed to the rest of the elements to refine the story.

The perspective. Do you feel the distance between you and the painting? Are you an observer or a participant? The way you feel is dictated by the artistic choice – it’s never a coincidence. An artist thoroughly selected the angle: you may look upwards, or downwards, or be at the same level with the objects depicted. If the horizon is at your eye level, the impression you will get is calm, stable. The high horizon will reveal more space, in landscapes it provides a majestic view. Paintings with the low horizon, so common with Dali, are monumental, highlighting the size of the objects and figures. The unusual views of Paris by Pissarro appeared as he painted from the hotel rooms.

THE LIGHT AND COLOR

The light and color in the painting will always be dictated by the artist’s intention, the concept of the painting. So, consider the sources of color, the time of the day, the emotional impact of light and shades.
Is the light neutral, sharp, mystical?
Are the contours rough or concealed?
What colors are prevailing – tonal or local, warm or cold?
What are the major color fields in the painting and their role in the entire composition? Is the light optically realistic or expressive as in Matisse’s painting?
Can you feel the rhythm in repeating some color or combination?
Is some color dominating?
What emotions does it produce?

THE BRUSHWORK

Depending on the art movement and personal peculiarities of the artist, the brushwork can range from delicate and almost invisible to rough and plastic.

CONCLUSION

Once again go through the images and the story of the painting. Was your first impression different from what you see now?

Take a 5-minute online test to explore your preferences in fine arts. In 5 minutes you will confidently say “I prefer impressionist cityscapes”, or “This room calls for a color field painting”, “I need to have an art nouveau nude in my bedroom” – and you will know what you are talking about!