Picture This: How Pictures Work — Book Review

Picture This: How Pictures Work — Book Review

Why does the color black make us feel serious? Why is yellow a happy color and gray is sad? Why do our eyes tend to read from left to right as compared to parts of the eastern hemisphere where they read from right to left?

Picture This teaches a unique approach to visual composition. This is a very useful book for anyone in the visual arts field, photographers and designers alike.

The author, Molly Bang, uses the story of Little Red Riding Hood to explore the psychological and emotional power behind colors, shapes, size, and composition.

I found the lessons in the book fascinating and informative. The author was able to deeply explain concepts behind visual art that I’d always felt and noticed but never was able to put into concrete words.

One of my favorite concepts in the book is about how the angles of shapes can affect emotion. The author drew “the big bad wolf” using triangles with pointed tips. She then compared that to another version of the wolf made with rounded tip triangles. Sharp edges put our feelings on edge thus creating a scarier image. As compared to rounded edges which are typically interpreted as soothing curves thus significantly downplaying the emotion of fright.

Whether you are designing a flyer or sketching the beginnings of a painting, the emotion that you are trying to convey is one of the most important aspects of planning. It’s easy to look at a design and sense that something is off or just doesn’t look right, but by understanding the fundamentals of composition and the associations behind other visual components, you give yourself the power to draft any message or emotion into a design.

Picture This is a great way to get started on the journey to learning this fundamental knowledge of visual design. It’s a quick yet condensed read packed with fundamentals for all types of artists.

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