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WRT 105 Comics and Culture (Mohn): Visual Literacy

What makes good design?

Interesting: relavant/new
Function: ease of use, incites new understanding &/or is informative - tells a story visually
​Form: beauty, structure, aesthetic appeal
Integrity: accuracy/ethical

Visual Analysis Strategies

  1. Examine such elements as icons/iconography, props, clothing, color, light, the position of elements on the screen/page, the use of supers (text over images), code words, and/or the use of other media to augment the message.  What meaning can you derive? Is there a difference in how the image is depicted and how it might be perceived?
  2. Examine the way images are juxtaposed, the manner in which the author of the work angles and/or frames the subjects, the myths and themes propounded by the images, and strategies of crisis, opportunity, etc., that help image elements work together to create a message.  Is it a coherent message? Are there multiple messages? If so, do they conflict? If there are frames, how is space and/or time being divided?  If there are panels, how does the author use their shape, size, and/or arrangement? 
  3. Consider any rhetorical devices used. Does the author use metaphors or allegories, and if so, to what effect? Does the author use either over-exaggeration (hyperbole) or understatement to make a point? What are the symbolic elements (objects, characters, setting elements which stand for something else with a particular meaning other than what they represent; for example, a color may stand for death or an animal for a particular trait or nationality)?  Does the author aim to use an emotional appeal to sway the reader (pathos)? Is there an ethical appeal or to convince the reader based on evidence or prestige (ethos)? Does the author aim to use logic to sway readers (logos)?
  4.  What is/are the major themes? How does the physical and temporal place where the story takes place help develop character traits or set the tone/atmosphere?  What impact may the point of view or narrator’s voice have on interpretation? What impact does a particular character have? 



 This Library Guide by Justina Elmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International LicenseAny part of it may be used as long as credit is included.  Derivative works can be licensed under Creative Commons to encourage sharing and reuse of educational materials.