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Sophisticated Picture Books

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How do illustrators evoke emotion?

What do they want us to discover about the characters/setting etc without telling us in words?

What associations surface in your mind?


The following techniques are designed to influence your responses


  • Cropping – cutting off parts of the picture
  • Light – is one part of the picture darker or lighter than another?
  • Visual weighting – altering the proportions of the picture
  • Colour – provides many signals, black and white shades, contrast
  • No frames – the picture becomes visually part of the story
  • Focal distance –
  • White space – unused space
  • Line – is it straight, thick, thin etc
  • Breaking the frame – part of the picture comes out of the frame
  • Size and scale – emphasizes one of these aspects
  • Multiple frames – more than one frame ie picture
  • Perspective – from whose perspective is this scene seen?
  • Font style – relates to story/atmosphere/time/character
  • Directionality – perspective
  • Shape – circles (no sharp edges – family), triangle (stability), square (sharp edges)
  • Composition

(see below for greater detail)


Images can be manipulated to control or persuade you to think in a certain way – think about this in terms of advertising!


Questioning The Pictures

         Say what you notice about the pictures

         Think why the illustrator may have done this

         Think about what it means in the story

         Can you link the story to another story or a prior experience?





  • Think of the dominating colours – warm or cool
  • What do they make you think of? How do you feel?
  • Are the colours bright, pale, same, contrasting?
  • Why has the illustrator used these colours?



  • Does a particular object have more light on it than others?
  • Is a certain mood created by use of light?




  • What shapes are  mostly used?
  • What effect do these shapes have?
  • Why has the illustrator used them?



  • Look at the foreground/background
  • Think about what dominates the picture and the effect this has.
  • Where is your eye drawn to? How? Why? What effect does it have?



  • Is there a frame around the picture? Why/to what effect?
  • Look for internal framing/external framing.



  • Does it look as though the characters/objects are moving?
  • Will they move?
  • How does the illustrator give a still picture movement and energy?
  • Notice the way the characters face.



         Look for lines drawn in bold/light, flowing/disconnected – what is the effect?

         Take note if some objects are shaded or fully coloured.


Size and Scale

         Do objects/characters appear larger/smaller in relation to others?

         What effect does this have?


Close up/Long shot

         Is the subject focused on close up or with a background?


         Are you looking straight at an object or down on it or up at it?

         What is effect and how does it make you feel?


Use of White Space

         How does the use of white space affect the picture?

         Does it draw your eye to it or give a feeling of loneliness?



         Look for repeating symbols that seem significant.



Did  you notice that I used different fonts???? Why?????



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