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Analysing pictures

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					Analysing pictures

1. Four-step analysis
     All kinds of pictures, from oil paintings to pencil sketches, can be analysed using the following four
     steps. They will help you to deal with a picture systematically, so that no important aspect is left out.

Step 1: Introduction – basic information
        Your introduction should answer the following questions:
        Where is the image from? Who made it and when?
        What type of image is it?
        What does the image (roughly) show?
        Why was it drawn/taken?

Step 2: Description
Look at the picture carefully, then describe it systematically, e. g.:
    from the centre to the corners
    from the foreground to the background
    from the left to the right (or the other way round)
    from the top to the bottom (or the other way round)
Don‟t forget to look at details:
    the setting (place and time) and/or the situation
    the quality of the picture (clear or blurred, realistic or abstract, etc.)
    the striking features of the objects
    the characters, e. g. their appearance and body language (facial expressions, gestures, postures)

Step 3: Analysis
        Does the image transport a message/have an intended effect?
        Which pictorial elements are used to get the message across/to produce the effect?
        How do the different elements interact?

Step 4: Evaluation
        Do you think that the image is effective in getting the message to the target group?
        Does it use suitable means for doing so?
        What effect does the image have on you?

2.                  Photographs, paintings and drawings
     Pictures include drawings, paintings and photographs, but of course each of these categories can be
     specified further:

Drawings:           pencil/charcoal/ink drawing; portrait, caricature, cartoon, …
Paintings:          watercolour/oil painting; portrait, landscape painting, still-life, …
Photographs:        black and white/colour photograph, …

Useful phrases:

           I.    Describing positions
                       i.   in the middle/centre
                      ii.   at the top/bottom
                     iii.   on the left/right
                     iv.    in the top right-hand corner
                      v.    in the bottom left-hand corner
                     vi.    in the background/foreground

Tip: When describing what people are doing in a picture, always use the present progressive: The woman
on the left is entering a shop
        II.   Describing pictures
                     i. The picture shows/depicts/sends an indirect message/captures a key
                         moment/makes an appeal …
                    ii. It conveys the impression that …
                   iii. An element of the photo has the effect that …/indicates or represents sth/is a sign
                         that …
                   iv. The artist aims to present …/creates an atmosphere of …
                    v. The photo appeals/does not appeal to me.
                   vi. In my opinion, the picture is effective/convincing/…
                  vii. All pictorial elements support …/contribute to …
                  viii. The photo touches me/leaves me cold because …
                   ix. It visually describes …/makes a problem visuable.


3. Cartoons
   A cartoon is a humorous drawing that critically deals with a current news item, i. e. it responds to a
   topical event. It often contains some text, e. g. speech/thought/sound bubbles and/or a caption (text
   under the picture).
   A cartoon is critical of people or institutions in the news, topical events or new trends/ideas (its target)
   and usually makes a one-sided point (its message). It usually combines visual techniques (e. g.
   caricaturing a person or using objects with a symbolic meaning) with verbal humour (wordplay, irony
   …) (its devices).
   „Cartoon‟ can also mean a series of drawings inside the boxes that tell a (short) story (=comic strip), or
   a short animated film, such as “Tom and Jerry”.

      Introducing cartoons
         The cartoon
           was drawn by [name of cartoonist].
           was published/appeared in [newspaper] on [date].
           was created in response to [a news item].
           shows/presents/depicts/deals with/alludes to/refers to/criticises [an event/crisis/trend/…].
           is directed at/comments on/targets [an attitude, policy …]
         The message of the cartoon is clear: It aims to show that …
         The key point the cartoon is trying to make is to expose the fact that …
         The cartoonist criticises … for doing sth/makes fun of …

      Describing cartoons
         The cartoon
           consists of/is made up of … several pictorial elements/speech or thought bubbles/a caption
           is divided into …
         The caption
           is a comment/statement by …
           states that …/reinforces the cartoonist‟s message that …
           is unexpected/short and sweet/ironic.

      Analysing cartoons
         The cartoon expresses sth/points out that …
         An element in the drawing represents/stands for/symbolises …/is exaggerated/stressed.
         A character is a caricature of/the stereotypical …
         A character is caricatured/ridiculed as …
         The humour lies in the difference/misunderstanding/discrepancy/contrast/parallels between …
         and …

      Evaluating cartoons
        The cartoon achieves its aim of [doing sth]. It skilfully/effectively …
        The point/message of the cartoon is lost on me/fails to work for me because …
        The cartoon appeals/does not appeal to me. In my opinion it is
          detailed/well-made/very clear/effective/of high quality/convincing …
          simplistic/confusing/unfair/exaggerated/…