Monday, May 12, 2014

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang

I wished I had read this book back in journalism school. It explains basic composition in pictures that is easy to understand. I've heard much of it before but I like how Molly Bang puts it all together tying colors, shapes, space, and placement with emotions and word associations in a simplistic way. She uses the story, "Little Red Riding Hood," changing colors, shapes and placement to create the emotion of fear. The examples show the effects of size and color, as well as, what people associate the color with when looking at an image. I grabbed a picture book and tried to use the principles when looking at the pictures. Many of them applied to the pictures and if you want to review picture books this book would be helpful in breaking down components of good design and use of color.

The first part of the book describes building a picture through shapes and space to create a mood. Bang uses the scary part of the wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood" to create her pictures. The second part focuses on basic principles of emotional responses to placements of shapes on the page. A smooth surface with horizontal shapes gives stability; whereas, vertical shapes imply energy and diagonal is dynamic. The upper half of the picture implies lightness and floating; whereas, the bottom can crush. The center of the page has the greatest attention and when an object is moved to the side it adds tension and movement. White background implies safe while black is more ominous. Pointed shapes are scary and rounded are comforting. Large objects dominate pictures while small ones look vulnerable. Colors have a stronger influence on the viewer than the shape itself. Contrasts pull out patterns in pictures. These are the basics simplified even more than the author, but it gives you the idea. This is good for beginners or those that want a refresher on picture composition.

5 Smileys

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