A woman wearing spectacles- Visual Analysis Essay

Visual Analysis Essay – Complete Writing Guide

Here's What We'll Cover

A visual analysis essay is a type of essay that describes an image, a piece of art, or any other visual work. This type of essay examines the artwork as a whole or reveals specific artwork features from the writer’s point of view. A visual analysis essay differs from other academic essays because it requires you to study the design principles and elements of the visual work. The design elements include lines, shapes, sizes, and colors, while the design principles are proportion, contrast, texture, and balance.

The essay also involves the analysis of advertisements, paintings, or other works of art like photographs and pictures.  The essay is usually written for English, Art, or History classes. Our essay experts will teach you how to perform a visual analysis and give you the tips you need to write an excellent essay. Let’s get started!

The Purpose of a Visual Analysis Essay

The primary purpose of a visual analysis essay is to help the reader understand more about the image or artwork under study. The following are other purposes of a visual analysis essay:

  • Describes a piece of art, image, or other visual work
  • Examines and critically analyzes artwork or any visual work
  • Discusses the elements of visual display in detail
  • Unfolds interesting facts about art and the artist

Visual Analysis Essay Outline and Format

A virtual analysis essay, just like other academic essays, has three parts: Introduction, body, and conclusion.


Your introduction should open with a statement that hooks the reader so they can continue reading the entire essay. The introduction should be short but must describe the artwork vividly. You should use the introduction to explain what the art is about and highlight the artist’s goal. Bring out many interesting facts about the image so that the reader would want to read more. The last sentence in your introduction should be your thesis. This sentence should connect your introduction to the rest of your essay.

Body paragraphs

Before you start writing the body paragraphs of your essay, you must observe the artwork. Examine all its details, including space, texture, size, composition, colors, etc. All these should help you develop points/topics to help support your thesis or the main idea.

Remember that each paragraph should start with a topic sentence and make a solid claim on the main idea. Therefore, the rest of the section should help build your argument on the paragraph topic. Make sure you are specific and descriptive enough to help the reader understand the image better.

It is in these paragraphs that you’ll be presenting your explanation and evidence. Also, you have to be persuasive for the reader to move along with your argument. You should only discuss the art principles and elements that support your idea or thesis. Make sure the paragraphs and points are arranged logically, depending on how strong they are. Also, remember to use vocabularies such as show, intent, demonstrate, foreshortening, linear perspective, among others.


The conclusion is like a summary of your essay. In this section, you wrap up your piece and re-emphasize your most vital points. Do not make your conclusion very long, but it has to be punchy. You don’t need to re-state your thesis in the conclusion part, but you must strengthen it to make it more convincing and trustworthy. However, if you had done some analysis in the body, you have to write some conclusions you derived from the analysis. 

Visual Analysis Essay Elements You Should Know

When writing the body of your visual analysis essay, there are certain vital visual elements you need to analyze. There’s no way you can analyze a visual display or image without mentioning how these elements fit into the subject’s characteristics. These fundamental elements include:


It would help if you described how the colors used affect the image. Focus on how the colors used affect the overall mood and tone of the artwork. Also, explain how colors have been used symbolically on the object. For example, an artist can utilize the cultural meanings of particular colors.

Focal point

In the analyzed image, the part that most attracts the viewers’ attention and conveys the central message of the artwork is the focal point of that image. Additionally, as a student, you should be able to identify the focal point in any piece of artwork. Once you recognize it, you can describe it and explain the message it conveys.


Artists use different types of lines. These lines include curved, thick, thin, horizontal, vertical, straight, zigzag, and implied. In your essay, you have to describe the types of lines used and how they help grab the viewer’s attention. Also, explain why particular types of lines were used on specific parts of the image.


The form refers to the depth, width, and height of an image. It makes the image appear as if it’s occupying a 3D space. Moreover, when analyzing an image, describe how the artist has used dark and light to create a 3D image on a 2D surface.


The shape is an element that refers to how the artist has used various forms and shapes like circles, squares, ovals, rectangles, etc. Also, explain how the shapes have been used and what the shapes represent.


Texture refers to how rough or smooth an object is. An artist can use artistic elements to bring about the sense of texture, even on a smooth 2D surface. Therefore, in your essay describe how an artist has used his skills to show how rough or smooth an object is.


Artists mainly use sizes to place accents within their pieces of artwork. Sizes matter a lot because they have to show how different objects in a piece of art relate to one another. Sizes of objects also bring a sense of distance and in a piece of art.

Symbolic elements

Artists use symbols in their artwork. These symbols have specific meanings. In addition, as you write your visual analysis essay, you should identify these symbols and state what they mean or represent.

Visual Analysis Essay Writing Process

No matter the intentions for your essay, there are a few steps you need to take. These include: 

1. Observe and Take Notes

The first and the most crucial step is to observe the visual work/art and note down your observations or details. For instance, you can visit the art museum or gallery where your artwork of choice is exhibited to get more information about the artwork. 

2. Do Research

  • The second step is to do research about the artist and any background information about the piece.The questions below will help you do a great research.
  • What does the work of art represent?
  • Where and when was the art created?
  • What was the artist’s theme, and what message was he trying to convey to the viewers?
  • What’s the structure or form of the piece of art?
  • Who created the piece?
  • Is there anything special about the art or the artist who created it?
  • What was the social context within which the artist created the piece?

3. Clarify Your Thesis/Claim 

Based on these questions and your answers, you can now clarify your thesis. It would be necessary to conduct preliminary research to help you develop a powerful rhetorical argument. 

4. Support the Thesis Using the Elements of the Object 

You can then use the characteristics and elements of the artwork you observed to support your thesis. Pick the artistic elements and principles that support your thesis and explain why you think they do so. 

5. Recognize Your Connection With the Art

When writing the visual analysis essay, you need to recognize the emotional and mental responses that help you connect with the art.  

6. Draft Your Outline 

Before writing the essay, you need to develop a detailed outline that synthesizes and summarizes the information you gathered and puts them in a logical order. 

7. Write the Visual Analysis Essay 

Use your outline to write the essay. Equally important make sure you follow the outline to guide you in writing each section of the essay. 

8. Edit and Proofread 

Before submitting the essay, make sure you edit and proofread it to eliminate both grammatical and spelling mistakes. You can use online tools like Grammarly to help with editing.

9. Format Your Essay

Make sure you format your final essay according to your tutor’s instructions. The formatting styles available are APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, etc. 

Tips for Writing the Visual Analysis Essay

In writing a visual analysis essay, quality matters a lot. Observe the following:

Follow Instructions Given

To get the best essay, make sure you follow your tutor’s instructions to the letter. Besides, your tutor won’t be happy if you fail to follow his instructions. Also, make sure you follow the recommended essay structure. 

Write a Catchy Introduction

A catchy introduction will hook the reader(s) to your essay and make them want to read more. 

Explain the Visual Essay Elements.

Explain all the visual elements you’ve identified in the piece of art. And when doing this, use the correct terms to describe the visual elements. This will convince your instructor that you understand what you are doing. 

Select a Great Essay Topic.

Another thing to remember is to come up with a catchy essay topic. A combination of a catchy topic and a catchy introduction will make your essay great. 

Use Accurate Information

Make sure all the information you include in the essay is accurate. In fact, you can get accurate information from reliable sources like peer-reviewed publications, books, and government websites. 

Have a Strong Visual Argument

Your essay should help the reader visualize the image in his mind even without seeing it. A strong visual argument will prove the authenticity and reliability of your essay.

Understand the Focal Point of Your Visual Analysis Essay

Identify the focal point of the artwork and describe it accordingly. The focal point helps you understand the overall meaning of the image. Then, make sure you correctly interpret the message the artist was/is trying to pass. 

Get Started!

If you are preparing to write a visual analysis essay, you now have all the information you need to create an outstanding essay. Furthermore, to avoid misinterpreting a piece of art, make sure you dig its background to understand why it was created and the artist’s intention. Similarly, you can research in museums, galleries, libraries, and even on reputable websites. Finally, make sure your essay is proofread and edited before submitting it.

How long is a visual analysis essay?

The length of a visual analysis essay will depend on your topic of choice. That being said, your writing should have five paragraphs. Also, ask your tutor the number of words he expects your essay to have.

What should a visual analysis essay include?

Some of the key things your visual analysis should have include:

  • The misunderstanding or controversy about the piece
  • An explanation of how the artist created the image
  • The artist’s purpose/message.

How many paragraphs should an analysis essay have?

A visual analysis essay should have five paragraphs distributed as; introduction (one paragraph), body (three paragraphs), and conclusion (one paragraph).

Let Us Help You Get Better Grades

Achieve academic success with Bright Writers

Let Us Help You Get Better Grades

Achieve academic success with Bright Writers

Unlocking A+ Essays


Insider Tips Your Professor Won't Share

Don't leave before you grab this deal!!

Get 20% OFF your first order. Professional essays at $10 a page

No thanks, I don't want great essays

Do you need better


Let us handle your essays today

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top