Exercise: Reading an image

Exercise: Reading an image

The exercise asks to analyse the content of the following image and particularly the use of colours in it.

ImmagineAfter carefully looking at the image, I explored it by answering to the questions proposed.

  • What the image is about, what is it saying?

The image is an illustration to a fantasy story and it is describing a very crucial moment. The scene is set in a cave inhabited by a dragon.

  • Work out the narrative and identify the story.

The story is about a treasure hunt. Two children are pictured entering the cave where the treasure is hidden, protected by a dragon. The dragon is sleeping wrapped around his treasure: the female child is attracted to it and she holds out her arm as to courageously invite to go further, while the other child hiding scared behind her, is pointing backwards, to the exit.
The armours and weapons scattered on the floor suggest the difficulty of the mission already failed by valuable knights.

  • Describe the palette and tonal range which has been used. Note if the colours are hot or cold, whether the elements are detailed or textural, and where these approaches are used.

The illustration presents an extensive colour palette. All the primary colours are included together with the secondary ones, so that we get a good visual balance.
I believe the elements are more textural than detailed, as we can observe on the walls and on the floor of the cave for example.

  • Is there any connection between hot colour and the importance of the element in telling the story?

The colours are definitely crucial to the story telling. Particularly hot colours are dragging attention to the key subjects, for instance the dragon in red, the treasure in yellow, and the torch, reflecting on the cave’s walls in yellow, orange and red.

  • Which are the most important elements in terms of carrying the narrative or conveying the ideas and how have these been treated?

We cannot help but looking at the dragon, which is undoubtedly the key of the narrative together with the treasure. Not only he is pictured in bright red, but he is also surrounded by cold colours which are dragging him in the foreground even more. Just to make sure we didn’t miss the point, the dragon’s tail is transformed in a big red arrow, pointing to the throne, sitting on the treasure, just to suggest the glorious destiny of whoever is able to win it.
As well as the dragon we are attracted by another ‘hot zone’ which is the reflection of the flame of a torch on the walls of the cave. I believe this is also a key element carrying the concept of ‘research, hunt’, definitely an essential part of the story.
After those main focus points the attention jumps to the children, finally to the objects on the ground and then to the background.

Life drawing: Eighth lesson

Life drawing: Eighth lesson

The last life drawing lesson was particularly stimulating to me. The tutor invited us to change the routine perspective by drawing with our wrong hand, starting to draw from the middle of the pose and using a very instinctive squiggly line.


But what I found particularly interesting this time was to draw what is around the body to find out theoutline of the figure. It was really hard to do in few minutes, but I thought it was a really good exercise and it really opened my mind.


We then continued with the usual longer poses:


Exercise: Illustrating visual space

Exercise: Illustrating visual space

Working with composition let me consider a mechanism which most of the times comes automatic. The size and the position of an object are essential elements to tell a story and even moving around the same subjects we can have dozens of different meanings.
I selected three basic images from the browser and photocopied them at different sizes and then started to experiment different compositions.
With the first two images the narrative looks very similar, even though the distances are different.

In the third one the arrangement is basically similar, but the big tree in the middle of the picture, almost makes what’s behind invisible.

In the next picture the order is upset by setting all the figures slantwise, making it look like an impossibly strong wind is blowing everything away.

The following picture sees a weird relation between the tree and the child figures: at a shallow glance it can look fine, but paying attention we cannot clearly understand which is the foreground figure.

The next image is a mixed composition of slantwise and straight pictures and here the story changes again: looks like the children are running away from falling houses and trees.

In the last three pictures I tried omitting an horizon line. In the first case the objects look fluctuating randomly, with no gravity, maybe almost going up.

In the second picture, the organization of the variously sized trees is not only suggesting a virtual horizon line, but also the perspective.

The last one sees all the figures aligned slantwise: in this case they assume a purely decorative value, as on a gift wrapping paper.


In conclusion, seems obvious, the arrangement of the figures in a frame can be changed in infinite ways, with infinite different meanings and it is really important to an illustrator to be aware of the message that can be conveyed with a specific positioning of the subjects telling a story.

Links to the original images: