Ormal visual analysis of Zhang Daqians work: Entrance of Bade Garden

Formal analysis is an important technique for organizing visual information. In other words, it is a strategy used to translate what you see into written words.

The Elements

The elements of formal analysis are building blocks that can be combined to create a larger structure.

Line is the most basic building block of formal analysis. Line can be used to create more complex shapes or to lead your eye from one area in the composition to another.

Value is the degree of light and dark in a design. It is the contrast between black and white and all the tones in between. Value can be used with color as well as black and white. Contrast is the extreme changes between values.

Shapes are created when lines are combined to form a square, triangle, or circle. Shapes can be organic (irregular shapes found in nature) or geometric (shapes with strong lines and angles such as circles, triangles, and squares).

Forms are three-dimensional shapes with length, width, and depth. Balls, cylinders, boxes and pyramids are forms.

Space is the area between and around objects. Increasing or decreasing the amount of space around an object affects the way we view that object.

Color differentiates and defines lines, shapes, forms, and space. Even black and white images have a huge number of different shades of gray.

Texture is the surface quality that can be seen and felt. Textures can be rough or smooth, soft or hard. Textures are often implied. For instance, a drawing of a rock might appear to have a rough and hard surface, but in reality is as smooth as the paper on which it is drawn.

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