5: Presentation: Zemni 2021 Theory


The key distinguishing characteristic of self-publishing is that the author has decided to publish his or her work independent of a publishing house.  In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76% of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced the number of books they produced. According to Robert Kroese, “the average return of the self-published book is £500”.

The emergence of digital print and print on demand, with its small print runs, has arguably given creative designers much more control over the design and publishing process. Similar to the rise of fanzines in the 1970s punk era, independent book publication in the twenty- first century serves as a countercultural response to the aesthetics and associations of mass commercial book production.

Vanity publishing

The term ‘vanity publishing’ originated at a time when the only way for an author to get a book published was to sign a contract with a publishing company. Reputable publishing companies generally paid authors a percentage of sales, so it was in the company’s interest to sign only authors whose books would sell well. It was extremely difficult for the typical unknown author to get a publishing contract under these circumstances, and many ‘vanity publishers’ sprang up to give these authors an alternative: essentially, they would publish any book in exchange for payment up front from the author. The term “vanity publishing” arose from the common perception that the authors who paid for such services were motivated by an exaggerated sense of their own talent.

Vanity publishing differs from self-publishing in that the author does not own the print run of finished books and is not in primary control of their distribution.

The line between vanity publishing and traditional publishing has, however, become increasingly blurred in the past few years. Currently there are several companies that offer digital and/or print publication with no up front cost. However, most of these companies also offer add-on services such as editing, marketing and cover design. Self-publishing companies that fit this model include CreateSpace (owned by, iUniverse, and Lulu. An author who simply hands his or her book over to one of these companies, expecting the company to make it a bestseller, would meet the previously established definition of vanity publishing, but it’s unclear how many authors fit this description. Further blurring the distinction between self-publishing and traditional publishing was Penguin’s purchase in 2012 of Author Solutions.

Increasingly, then, vanity publishing is being defined as a behavior rather than a set characteristic of certain companies or individuals, although there remain a handful of companies that clearly qualify as vanity publishers. These are companies that offer the cachet of being published and make the majority of their income on fees for intangible services paid for by the author, rather than sales revenue. These companies are also known as joint venture or subsidy presses.

Print on Demand

Wikipedia article: Print-On-Demand
Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing refers to the ability to print high-quality books as needed. Online retailing, wherein dominant players like have enticed readers away from bookstores into an online environment. Print-On-Demand (POD) technology which can produce a quality product equal to those produced by traditional publishers – in the past, you could easily identify a self-published title because of its quality.

For self-published books, this is often a more economical option than conducting a print run of hundreds or thousands of books. Many companies, such as Createspace (owned by, Lulu and iUniverse allow printing single books at per-book costs not much higher than those paid by publishing companies for large print runs. Most POD companies also offer distribution through and other online and brick-and-mortar retailers, most often as “special order” or “web-only” as retail outlets are usually unwilling to stock physical books that cannot be returned if they do not sell.

Electronic (E-book) Publishing

Technological advances with e-book readers and tablet computers that enhance readability and allow readers to “carry” numerous books in a concise, portable product.

There are a variety of E-book formats and tools that can be used to create them. The most popular formats are epub, .mobi, PDF, HTML, and Amazon’s .azw format.[citation needed], Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords all offer online tools for creating and converting files from other formats to formats that can be sold on their websites.[citation needed] Because it is possible to create E-books with no up-front or per-book costs, E-book publishing is an extremely popular option for self-publishers. Some recent bestsellers, such as Hugh Howey’s Wool series, began as digital-only books.

Copyrights and risk

Self-publishing and vanity publishing are not necessarily the same business model. A self-published author employs a printer (publishing) to operate a press, but retains ownership of copyrights, ISBN’s, the finished books and their distribution. A vanity press or subsidy publisher retains some of the rights,usually including ownership of the print run and control over distribution, while the author bears much or all of the financial risk.

Both models share a common characteristic of shifting risk and primary editorial control to the author; both encounter the same issues of lax editorial control. This differs from the conventional model (royalty publishing) in which a publisher pays an author an advance to create content, then assumes full control of the project and any commercial risk if a tome sells poorly. Also excluded is sponsored publishing, where a company pays an author to write a book on its behalf (for instance, a food manufacturer marketing a cookbook written by outsiders or a hobby materials supplier publishing a book of blueprints).

Unless a book is to be sold directly from the author to the public, an ISBN number is required to uniquely identify the title. ISBN is a global standard used for all titles worldwide. Most self-publishing companies either provide their own ISBN to a title or can provide direction; it may be in the best interest of the self-published author to retain ownership of ISBN and copyright instead of using a number owned by a vanity press.

List of self-publishing companies

The following is a Wikipedia list of some of the notable companies that provide assistance in self-publishing books, provide print on demand services as publishers or operate as vanity presses.


Books LLC controversial American publisher and a book sales club based in Memphis, Tennessee. Books LLC publishes print on demand paperback and downloadable compilations of English texts and documents from open knowledge sources such as Wikipedia. Books LLC’s copies of the English Wikipedia are republished by Google Books. Titles are also published in French and German respectively under the names “Livres Groupe” and “Bücher Gruppe“. Books’ publications do not include the images from the original Web documents but, in their place, URLs pointing to the Web images.


Blurb, Inc.
Bob Books

Famous Poets Society
Greyden Press
Kobo Writing Life
Lightning Source

Notion Press
Outskirts Press (also known as the International Library of Poetry)


Small press

Tate Publishing & Enterprises
Trafford Publishing
Vantage Press

Xulon Press



Publishers Weekly (4 April 2010). “Self-Published Titles Topped 764,000 in 2009 as Traditional Output Dipped”. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
Robert Kroese. Self-Publish Your Novel: Lessons from an Indie Publishing Success Story.
RICH, MOTOKO (28 February 2010). “Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book”. New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
Rosenthal, Morris. “Print on Demand Publishing”. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
Neuburger, Jeffrey D. (10 September 2008). “Court Rules Print-on-Demand Service Not Liable for Defamation”. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
Greenfield, Jeremy (19 July 2012). “Penguin Buys Self-Publishing Platform Author Solutions for $116 Million”.
Christina Patterson (18 August 2012). “How the great writers published themselves”. The Independent (London). Retrieved 17 August 2012.
Paull, John (2011). “The making of an agricultural classic: Farmers of Forty Centuries or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan, 1911–2011”. Agricultural Sciences 2 (3): 175–180. doi:10.4236/as.2011.23024.
“How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0”.
The Guardian (27 March 2012). “Pottermore conjures Harry Potter ebooks”. London. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
Brown, Helen (2010-01-08). “Unleash your inner novelist”. The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved September 16, 2011. “Polly Courtney […] made money self-publishing her novel, Golden Handcuffs, in 2006. […] Courtney now has a three-book deal with HarperCollins […]”
Saichek, Wiley (September 2003). “Christopher Paolini interview”. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
Lane, Frederick S. (2006). The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. p. 99. ISBN 1-59102-427-7.
Rich, Motoko (2008-06-24). “Christian Novel Is Surprise Best Seller”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
External linksEdit

Self-publishing at DMOZ
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List of self-publishing companies
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American Biographical Institute[citation needed]


Mark Levine. The Fine Print of Self-Publishing. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
April Hamilton. The Indie Author Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
Irina Webster, William Webster. How to Become a Successful Author:: 34 Steps to Self-Publishing. Australian Self-publishing Group. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
Dan Poynter, Danny O. Snow. 4.0: A ‘Living Book’ to Help You Compete With the Giants. Unlimited Publishing LLC, Dan Poynter, Danny O. Snow. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
Marilyn M. Moore (2012-06-17). The Self-Published Cook: How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own Cookbook. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
“Self-Published Titles Topped 764,000 in 2009 as Traditional Output Dipped”. 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
Sterlicchi, John (2008-02-20). “Self-publish boom challenging old order”. The Guardian (London).
“The 101 most useful websites”. London: Telegraph. 2009-11-12.
Rosen, Mike (2009-03-02). “MediaShift . 5 Great Services for Self-Publishing Your Book”. PBS. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
“Greyden Press”. Dayton, OH. 2014-10-06.
Biswas, Venkata Sausmita (2012-02-12). “Publishing for dummies”. The New Indian Express (Chennai).
Torpey, Jodi (2007-07-15). “Outskirts Press brings unpublished writers into the mainstream”.
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Digital print on demand, although perhaps limited in terms of production values when compared to traditional lithographic printing, can be cost-effective when working with small batches or ‘one-off’ books and this process can be exploited by small independent publishers. In addition, artists and designers are rediscovering the craft and skills inherent in traditional printing processes such as letterpress and returning to a more physical relationship and contact with print, using materials and processes of the pre-digital age, such as photocopying and hand- binding. In the twenty-first century a new generation of designers can ‘take back the power’, once the preserve of the large publishing companies, and enjoy a creative independence in the design and printing of books. This approach recalls the era of early English small presses, where the author/artist expressed their vision through the craftsmanship inherent in book design, and enjoyed ownership of the design and production process as a whole.

3: Text and Image: Woman Lost Theory


“I have had to go to men as sources in my painting because the past has left us so small an inheritance of woman’s painting that had widened life….Before I put a brush to canvas I question, “Is this mine? Is it all intrinsically of myself? Is it influenced by some idea or some photograph of an idea which I have acquired from some man?”

Georgia O’Keefe

For an interview with Georgia O’Keefe visit

What is feminism?

Some people have found it helpful to think about the history of the feminist movement in terms of first, second and third waves. Broadly speaking, these are:

  • First wave – from the formation of the National Women’s Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1867 to full female enfranchisement in the UK in 1928.
  • Second wave – from the feminist movements associated with the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s to equality legislation in the UK in the 1970s.
  • Third wave – from the 1980s to the present day, more about social and political change than legislative change.

Feminist art and design

Guerrilla Girls

Hannah Höch (1889–1978)

Tamara de Lempicka (1898–1980)

Frida Kahlo (1907–54).

Martha Rosler

Visit the links below to discover more about feminism and feminist art:

  • What were the social and political conditions that made these artists communicate in the ways they did?
  • How is this demonstrated in their work?
  • How did these artists establish their own artistic

Feminist photography

Chapter 6 of your course reader (pp.292–96).




2: Landscapes of Place Theory

Design elements

Design elements can be explored in their own right as part of markmaking and media experiments. The following are just some dimensions for exploration, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.

Key Sources:

  • Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye
  • Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
  • de Sausmarez
  • Paul Klee

Basic Elements of Design

  • Point: the simplest unit
  • Line: the visual path that enables the eye to move within the piece
  • Shape: areas defined by edges within the piece, whether geometric or organic
  • Form: 3-D length, width, or depth
  • Colour: hues with their various values (brightness) and intensities (saturation)
  • Tone: shading used to emphasize form
  • Texture: surface qualities which translate into tactile illusions
  • Space: the space taken up by (positive) or in between (negative) objects
  • Depth: perceived distance from the observer, separated in foreground, background, and optionally middle ground


“The simplest unit, a spot, not only indicates location  but is felt to have within itself potential energies of expansion and contraction which activate the surrounding area. When two spots occur there is a statement of measurement and implied direction and the ‘inner’ energies create a specific tension between them which directly affects the intervening space. Freely used spots, in clusters or spread out, create a variety of energies and tensions activating the entire area over which they occur. All sensations are increased if difference in the size of the spots is allowed to enter” de Sausmarez ‘Basic Design’  p25

Positioning one point

Commonly a point can also be a small part of the image which contrasts in some way with its setting. There is no clear cut-off point between points and larger subjects which are in some ways isolated from their backgrounds. But the larger subjects become in the frame, the less point-like their qualities gradually become.

The main consideration is placement – to give it whatever balance or interest is wanted according to the aim of the picture. This could be for example harmony, contradiction, irony etc.

Placement options for one point:

  • Central: this tends to be very static and dull, and needs clear justification.
  • Slightly off-centre eg on the thirds lines is moderately dynamic, without being extreme and can feel balanced. The choice being in what direction. This is affected by the type of movement in relation to the aim of the image.
  • Close to the edge: markedly eccentric and needs justification.

There are two important relations:

  • movement – created by drawing attention towards the point from the sides. The strength of this sense of movement is in proportion to the distance from each side.
  • division – a point implies a division. This is easier to see if you draw horizontal and vertical lines through the point.

Relationship between two or more points

With two points the basic simplicity of the situation is lost. It is the relationship between the two that dominates the composition. The eye is drawn from one to the other and back, so there is always an implied line connecting them. Being a line it has a relationship with horizontals and verticals of the frame, and also has direction. , and also creates a vaguely defined space just around the two points.
Commonly one point attracts more attention than the other because it’s bigger, appears nearer, is close to the centre, or for other reasons. The direction of the implied line tends to be from stronger to weaker, and towards the point which is closest to the edge. In some special cases both points attract attention equally e.g. extreme close-up portaits just including the eyes. When this happens the viewer’s eye does not resolve the composition. This unresolved tension often damages a composition, but it can also be a useful device and activating an image.

With several points relationships and also predictable. A group of objects implies a network of lines, and can also create a shape – again by implication.


“A line can be thought of as a chain of spots joined together. It indicates position and direction and has within itself a certain energy; the energy appears to travel along its length and to be intensified at the other end, speed is implied and the space around it is activated. In a limited way it is capable of expression emotions.”
de Sausmarez ‘Basic Design’  p25


Lines as edges

Literal lines do not exist in nature, but are the optical phenomena created when objects curve away from the viewer. Straight lines add affection and can make it look more detailed and challenging. It is the quality of lines that makes them stand out. This may be because of: the type of line itself eg delicate, ragged, torn etc. and what this says about the object of the image. It may be because of contrast eg the edge of something bright against a dark background or vice versa. Or contrast of colour, textures, between shapes etc.

Lines in relation to the frame

Particularly when the frame of an image is itself constructed of lines, these invite a natural comparison of angle and length. Lines can also direct attention towards the main subject of picture, or contribute to organization by dividing it into compartments. Horizontal, vertical, and angled lines often contribute to creating different moods of a picture. The angle and the relationship to the size of the frame both work to determine the influence the line has on the image. They are also strongly influenced by tone, color, and repetition in relation to the rest of the image.

Horizontal lines are the baseline in composition – explicit or as an implicit reference. This is partly because of associations with the horizon/gravity. Our frame of vision is horizontal and our eyes see more easily from side to side. Horizontal lines tend to give a sense of stability, weight, calm, restfulness and space.

Vertical lines are the second primary component of the frame. A vertical line is naturally seen in terms of alignment with the frame. Without horizontal lines to give a supporting base, a vertical line usually has more of a sense of speed and movement, either up or down. Several vertical lines may have the sense of a barrier. They can express strength, power, height and grandeur. A single vertical line sits more comfortably in a vertical format. A series of verticals may require a horizontal format which allows more to be made of the series.

Perpendicular lines: energies are perpendicular and each one acts as a stop to the other. Can create a primary sense of balance because of the underlying association with standing upright supported by a level surface. If used strongly this can produce a solid, satisfying feeling. Alignment to the reference point of the frame is important.

Diagonals and zigzags  give a sense of motion and tension. Of all lines they introduce the most dynamism into a picture and are highly active, with greater expression of direction and speed than verticals. Represent unresolved tension and lead the eye along most easily. They have associations of depth and distance which can be manipulated to increase depth. By changing the perspective only by some degrees or some centimetres lines in images can change tremendously and a totally different feeling can be transported. Tightly angled convergent lines give a dynamic, lively, and active effect to the image whereas strongly angled, almost diagonal lines generally produce tension in the image.

Tangents force the eye to look at the point of contact.

Curved lines are generally used to create a sense of flow within an image. Compared to straight lines, curves provide a greater dynamic influence in a picture. Curves are inherently attractive to most people, particularly when they undulate. They carry the eye along. Curves make a more substantial contrast with straight lines than do the different types of straight lines amongst themselves. Useful contrasts can be made.
Curves have associations with smoothness, grace and elegance.

Lines by implication : Lines are often by implication, our imagination making connections between points. The brain often unconsciously reads near continuous lines between different elements and subjects at varying distances. Even irregular groupings of things can become resolved into lines when seen at a distance.

Counterpoint: don’t have lines leading out of the frame that are not led back, if all lines are in the same direction a composition can look dull. Futurist movement versus balance.


A shape is defined as a two or more dimensional area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, colour, or texture. A shape is therefore both an outline and an enclosure, although the extent to which it appears as one or the other depends very much on the subject and the lighting. Contrast either of tone or colour, also helps to decide whether shape will be important in that picture. Definable shapes organise part of the picture and provide structure to an image. It helps groups of things to cohere. All objects are composed of shapes and all other ‘Elements of Design’ are shapes in some way.

Regular, mechanical or geometric shapes are the shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass. Mechanical shapes, whether simple or complex, produce a feeling of control or order.

Triangles occur more frequently than other any other shape because they are the simplest shape of all. Because they always have at least two diagonals, they tend to create a sensation of activity and dynamism. Even two sides will give the impression of a triangle, provided they penetrate far enough into the picture. The natural tendency of linear perspective is for lines to converge on the vanishing point and form two sides of a triangle. Distinction between:

  • real triangles – actual triangular objects all triangles created by perspective.
  • implied triangles where planes encourage the eye to imagine a line to connect them. Emphasising the triangular structure is principally a matter of removing from view other distracting points, lines and the sidelines.

Irregular or organic shapes are freehand drawn shapes that are complex and normally found in nature. Organic shapes produce a natural feel.

Turbulent shape arrangements.

Repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm

Active, passive mix giving a place for the eye to rest. Notan

Odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.


In design, space is concerned with the area deep within the moment of designated design, the design will take place on. For a two-dimensional design, space concerns creating the illusion of a third dimension on a flat surface:

  • Overlap is the effect where objects appear to be on top of each other. This illusion makes the top element look closer to the observer. There is no way to determine the depth of the space, only the order of closeness.
  • Shading adds gradation marks to make an object of a two-dimensional surface seem three-dimensional.
  • Highlight, Transitional Light, Core of the Shadow, Reflected Light, and Cast Shadow give an object a three-dimensional look.
  • Linear Perspective is the concept relating to how an object seems smaller the farther away it gets.
  • Atmospheric Perspective is based on how air acts as a filter to change the appearance of distance objects.


Form may be described as any three-dimensional object. Form can be measured, from top to bottom (height), side to side (width), and from back to front (depth). Form is also defined by light and dark. It can be defined by the presence of shadows on surfaces or faces of an object. There are two types of form, geometric (man-made) and natural (organic form). Form may be created by the combining of two or more shapes. It may be enhanced by tone, texture and color. It can be illustrated or constructed.


Meaning the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can be added to attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture. Types of texture:

  • Tactile texture is the actual three-dimension feel of a surface that can be touched. Painter can use impasto to build peaks and create texture.
  • Visual texture is the illusion of the surfaces peaks and valleys, like the tree pictured. Any texture shown in a photo is a visual texture, meaning the paper is smooth no matter how rough the image perceives it to be.

Most textures have a natural touch but still seem to repeat a motif in some way. Regularly repeating a motif will result in a texture appearing as a pattern.


2: Landscapes of Place Theory

Design principles

Design elements may be explored in their own right, but are generally considered in terms of relationships between one or more element. The following are just some things to think about, taken from a range of sources and experience/thoughts on previous courses in art and photography.

Key Sources:

  • Michael Freeman:The Photographer’s Eye 
  • Alan Pipes: Foundations of Art and Design
  • de Sausmarez
  • Ian Roberts ‘Mastering Composition’
  • Theories of Paul Klee, Arthur Wesley Dow and Henry Rankin Poore

Principles of relationship

Unity/harmony:When all elements are in agreement, a design is considered unified. No individual part is viewed as more important than the whole design.

  • Symmetry
  • Asymmetrical produces an informal balance that is attention attracting and dynamic.
  • Balance: It is a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm.
  • Radial balance is arranged around a central element. The elements placed in a radial balance seem to ‘radiate’ out from a central point in a circular fashion.
  • Mosaic form of balance which normally arises from many elements being put on a page. Due to the lack of hierarchy and contrast, this form of balance can look noisy but sometimes quiet.

Hierarchy: A good design contains elements that lead the reader through each element in order of its significance. The type and images should be expressed starting from most important to the least important.

Scale/proportion: Using the relative size of elements against each other can attract attention to a focal point. When elements are designed larger than life, scale is being used to show drama.A subject can be rendered more dramatic when it fills the frame. There exists a tendency to perceive things as larger than they actually are, and filling the frame full fills this psychological mechanism. This can be used to eliminate distractions from the background.

  • Cropping
  • distant cropping, close cropping
  • boundary  relationships

Dominance/emphasis: Dominance is created by contrasting size, positioning, colour, style, or shape. The focal point should dominate the design with scale and contrast without sacrificing the unity of the whole.

Similarity and contrast: Planning a consistent and similar design is an important aspect of a designer’s work to make their focal point visible. Too much similarity is boring but without similarity important elements will not exist and an image without contrast is uneventful so the key is to find the balance between similarity and contrast.

Similar environment: There are several ways to develop a similar environment:

  • Build a unique internal organization structure.
  • Manipulate shapes of images and text to correlate together.

Perspective: sense of distance between elements.
Similarity: ability to seem repeatable with other elements.
Continuation: the sense of having a line or pattern extend.
Repetition: elements being copied or mimicked numerous times.
Rhythm: is achieved when recurring position, size, color, and use of a graphic element has a focal point interruption.

Negative space: Give the eye somewhere to rest

Color: Contrast: the value, or degree of lightness and darkness, used within the picture.


Repetition has a peculiar but generally very strong appeal, particularly when it is unfamiliar to the viewer:

  • rhythm or dynamic repetition: the movement across a picture (or more properly, the movement of the eye through a picture). Rhythm can be made more dynamic by encouraging a figure or point to break the rhythm. As the eye in Western culture naturally follows a rhythmical structure from right to left to right, it is often best to place a point on the right so that the eye has time to establish the rhythm before noticing it.
  • pattern or spatial repetition: essentially static and concerned with area. Ordered rows of large numbers of things produce regular patterns, but the slight variations in detail maintain interest. If the placing is irregular, the framing needs to be tight on the objects if they are to form a pattern.

Viewpoint (leading the eye): The position of the viewer can strongly influence the aesthetics of an image, even if the subject is entirely imaginary and viewed “within the mind’s eye”. Not only does it influence the elements within the picture, but it also influences the viewer’s interpretation of the subject.

Division of space

informal subdivision

high low horizons

Rule of thirds, golden mean, rebatement of the rectangle: The objective is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest (such as the horizon) from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns and rows, ideally near the intersection of those lines. The rule of thirds is thought to be a simplification of the golden mean. The golden mean is a ratio that has been used by visual artists for centuries as an aid to composition. When two things are in the proportion of 1:1.618 (approximately 3 to 5), they are said to be in the golden mean. Dividing the parts of an image according to this proportion helps to create a pleasing, balanced composition. The intersection points on a golden mean grid appear at 3/8 in and 3/8 down/up, rather than at 1/3 in and 1/3 down/up on the grid of thirds.

Rule of odds: The “rule of odds” states that by framing the object of interest with an even number of surrounding objects, it becomes more comforting to the eye, thus creates a feeling of ease and pleasure. The “rule of odds” suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number. An even number of subjects produces symmetries in the image, which can appear less natural for a naturalistic, informal composition. Related to the rule of odds is the observation that triangles are an aesthetically pleasing implied shape within an image.

Baselines and ground contour: foreground, middle ground and background division.ensure that you indicate the contours of the land, even if it appears flat. Use variations such as differences in soil colour, texture, vegetation, wind in grass etc. Light and shadow on land.

Overlapping forms: overlapping forms give a feeling of depth to space. If forms do not overlap there is no depth.

Tie together: If you have a distinct division of space that extends from one side of the painting to the other, tie the two divisions together by crossing the division with something in the foreground.


Images with clutter can distract from the main elements within the picture and make it difficult to identify the subject. By decreasing the extraneous content, the viewer is more likely to focus on the primary objects. Clutter can also be reduced through the use of lighting, as the brighter areas of the image tend to draw the eye, as do lines, squares and colour. In painting, the artist may use less detailed and defined brushwork towards the edges of the picture. Removing the elements to the focus of the object, taking only the needed components.Merge shapes that have similar values into larger shapes of one value.

Creating movement

Movement is the path the viewer’s eye takes through the artwork, often to focal areas. Such movement can be directed along lines edges, shape and colour within the artwork.


  • turbulent shape arrangements.
  • variety in division of space.
  • repetition with variety: pattern, rhythm
  • active, passive mix. Need place for the eye to rest. But depends on overall aim of picture.
  • odd number groups – maybe we like to see things in pairs, so we look for completion? Variety in threes.

Rule of space: The rule of space aims to give the illusion of movement, or which is supposed to create a contextual bubble in the viewer’s mind. This can be achieved, for instance, by leaving white space in the direction the eyes of a portrayed person are looking, or, when picturing a runner, adding white space in front of them rather than behind them to indicate movement.

Other techniques that can act together:

  • There should be a centre of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
  • The direction followed by the viewer’s eye should lead the viewer’s gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
  • The subject should not be facing out of the image;
  • Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
  • Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
  • The prominent subject should be off-centre, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
    the horizon line should not divide the art work in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if painting is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape
  • Variety: no spaces between the objects should be the same. They should vary in shape and size. That creates a much more interesting image.

Focal point:

  • staccato focal point: a small point or line that the viewer’s eye gravitates to
  • focal area: a specific area of colour or value

focus may be achieved by:

  • directing lines,/intersection of lines or implied lines,
  • contrast in colour, saturation, temperature,
  • texture, moves to areas of high density and detail.
  • shape or relation of shape to boundary, value. Isolation. rule of thirds.

A composition may have primary and secondary focus of interest. Not all images have to have a focal point or focal area. Or focal area may be large. Or there can be more than one and the interest is in the relationship between the two.

Eye movement

the aim is to keep the interest of the viewer and keep their attention in the frame.

  • types of path: C forms, S forms, I forms.
  • entry point, often in bottom left . Avoid splitting painting in two.
  • avoid leading eye into a corner, take it back in and around.
  • avoid trapping the eye in one part of the frame.
  • repeat colour spots. Linking lights, guiding darks and lights
  • let the brain fill the gaps.



2: Landscapes of Place Theory

Visual depth

Find places that can exaggerate different viewpoints. Focus on how you visualise depth and what strategies you use. Produce three drawings depicting a room in your house using:

  • one-point
  • two-point
  • three-point perspective
  • isometric projection
  • the room’s own visual logic and deliberately breaking the rules 
  • a flat drawing.

By definition these last three drawings will be less observed and more imagined, but try and use the room and objects as in your perspective drawings. You don’t need to produce finished illustrations for these pieces, though you can if you want to.


Write around 200 words analysing how these different approaches affect the ‘meaning’ of the visual space being represented. When you choose to draw with or without perspective what is this saying?

I chose to do these drawings in my living room, looking through to the hall and dining room depending on the type of perspective.

Linear perspective appears to be ‘photographically accurate’ – it is what we are used to considering as ‘correct’ and ‘real’. However there is no one ‘true’ perspective for any scene. Different photographic lenses give very different effects. There are many variations on any one scene in the way that linear perspectives can be constructed. In practice in most views there are multiple vanishing points because many things in a scene are not parallel to each other.

Images based on, or dominated by, one point perspective with a single vanishing point gives a feeling of direction towards that vanishing point. But it is possible to experiment with:

  • eye or horizon line: can be placed in different relationship to the ground plane to give the view of a child (low eye-level), or an adult and taller person (high eye level). It is also possible to have very high (bird’s eye) or very low viewpoints in relation to the vanishing point for very dramatic effects.
  • position of the vanishing point along the horizon line and in relation to the image border: central or off central, hidden etc
  • angle of view: steeper angles give a closer wide angle feel, narrower angles give a telephoto feel.
  • realism means that beyond the 60 degree cone of view the image would be slightly curved and less sharp
  • area of focus or sharpness in the image can be towards the front ie we see things closer to us more sharply, or sharpness may be greater in a particular focal point of interest – like focusing a camera which is the way we scan scenes with our eye. The difference in sharpness may also vary from sharpness throughout the image to extreme variations between one or more points.
  • differences in interest and focus can be changed by tonal and/or colour contrasts.
  • tension can be created, feelings of emptiness or chaos can be created by altering the relationship between these different elements.

Two point perspective with two vanishing points along the eyel line gives a sense of indecision – which way to look? Again the eye line, angles and position of the mid line can be altered to create different effects.

Three point perspective (not to be confused with one point perspective looking up or down) has all horizontals and verticals converging towards different vanishing points. This exaggerates the feeling of height or depth. It can also be used to create a profound sense of disorientation when the angles towards one or more of the vanishing points are very exaggerated and distort objects.

Isometric perspective is used by designers because parallel relationships and measurements are preserved. This gives a more technical or expansive feel – as in the Chinese long scrolls of townscapes.

But none of these are actually the way we see things. Our eyes change focus, make more distant things seem near and make connections that are then stored as memories in the brain. Drawing without perspective can explore these connections and meanings. This can be done from memory, mixing images in photomontage or from imagination. These images can be apparently ‘realistic’ at first view and then become surreal on further examination. Or their improbability can be immediately apparent through design.

In all these cases drawings can be be along a continuum from photorealism to abstraction. Some of the most striking images can be abstracted in black and white to reveal shapes and relationships between objects in linear perspective, isometric or flat perspective or with no perspective at all.

Experimenting with viewpoint and perspective is an area I want to explore much more – exploring how to get very different effects through altering the relationship between perspective, line, tone and colour.  My earlier art and photography courses had really only touched on linear perspectives – dynamic lines and diagonals and importance of viewpoint. The possibilities of isometric, flat and magical perspective are exciting.  I also enjoyed the abstract experimentation with the accidental images. I explore perspective in more detail in Parts 2, 3 and 4. But I have so far only scratched  the surface.

Review of earlier work

I had already done quite a lot of perspective drawing in different media for earlier OCA drawing and painting courses – mostly one point or multiple perspective. I started by reviewing these so that this exercise took my thinking further rather than just repeating what I had already done. See below.

With this project I wanted to really experiment with the effects of different parameters – eye line to create the feeling of being a child, how to appear looking down, how to create a feeling of voyeurism, how to create an expansive feel. I also wanted particularly to experiment with perspective grids in Illustrator, and using different types of brush to get different digital effects.


De Chirico – use of multiple vanishing points and shadows that do not follow linear perspective to give a menacing or uneasy feel.

Alessandro Gottardo – bending of perspective to create compositional effects.

Adam Simpson who uses flat and isometric perspective

Geoff Grandfield who uses flat or exaggerated perspective to create drama and narrative.

David Hockney – perspective collages

Eric Ravillious – watercolours of rooms with split perspectives

Grosvenor School – linocut artists who bend and exaggerate perspective to represent  speed and drama.

Patrick Caulfield who often flattens perspective to complement the flat colour

Will Scott flat abstraction

MC Escher (from recent exhibition in Dulwich Gallery)

Dave McKean : dramatic childs’ eye and bird’s eye views in some of his graphic novels

Persian miniatures (see printout in sketchbook)

Chinese scrolls and isometric perspective (see video on David Hockney post)

Egyptian and Greek Art (flat perspective)

One point perspective

In one point perspective all vertical lines remain parallel, usually at 90 degrees to the horizon line, while horizontal lines converge to one vanishing point on the horizon line. Alternatively in a bird’s eye view or view looking up, all vertical lines may converge to one point in the viewer’s line of view, while horizontal lines remain parallel.

Many of my earlier drawings were in one point perspective.

In order to take this further I decided I would do a rough charcoal drawing to scan and experiment with in Illustrator perspective grids – something that was new to me.

The view that I thought most exaggerated one-point perspective was the view through the door from the lounge into the hall – one I had done before. But I experimented with different viewpoints – sketching two versions – one for a tall person looking down, a close-up feel, and one for a small person with low eye level giving a more distanced spacious feel. Inspired by some of the drawings by Escher, I also quickly tried a curved version just to see what that might look like.

In Illustrator I then put the first image onto a perspective grid and manipulated this to explore different types of effect – varying the eye line, position of the vanishing point in relation to the rest of the image, angles of view and cropping. I did some further sketches and identified different interpretations and areas of focus or mystery that the image could lead the viewer to.

I then started to explore the effects of different tonal relationships.

With different types of line and brush – following up on possible differences in effect from different media from Project 1.1.

Finally with different colours, following up on Project 1.3.

One point perspective gives a feeling of direction. It is possible to experiment with:

  • eye level: to give the view of a child (low eye-level), or an adult and taller person (high eye level). It is also possible to have very high (bird’s eye) or very low viewpoints onto the picture plane for very dramatic effects.
  • position of the vanishing point: central or off central, hidden etc
  • angle of view: steeper angles give a closer wide angle feel, narrower angles give a telephoto feel.
  • realism means that beyond the 60 degree cone of view the image would be slightly curved and less sharp

I also made a number of discoveries through printing errors that pointed to other possible areas of experimentation.

Accidental aliens

I printing out all the Illustrator experiments, I got the print settings wrong so the whole of all the artboards printed – giving all the small squares arms, legs and noses. Different versions had different expressions – some were more Aztec, others angry. So rather than throwing the paper away, I experimented a bit with different scenarios.


I made another mistake on one printing of the linear perspective series above, accidentally printing out at very large size. Again rather than throw the paper away I made a series of collages to explore the different effects of different line dynamics. These create ideas that I could take forward either as flat illustrations, bringing altered perspective in or moving further towards magical realism. Some like the last two suggest entirely new images and interpretations – and can be turned around or upside down to suggest even more as a source of inspiration.

1 point perspective sketches

Two point perspective

In two point perspective all vertical lines remain parallel, usually at 90 degrees to the horizon line, while horizontal lines to left and right converge to separate vanishing points. Alternatively all horizontal lines may remain parallel while vertical lines to top and bottom converge towards separate vanishing points.

It was more difficult to find an interesting view with two point perspective in the same rooms. The images above are still not really 2-point perspective except on the door, though the image is split.

The view I chose was the angle of the arch going one way into the lounge and on the right to the dining room, giving a split view. This was inspired by some of the interiors by Eric Ravillious.

I first sketched this in charcoal.

I then wanted to see how far I could warp and distort the view using the perspective warp in Photoshop. The digital sumi-e image I flattened the right hand side of the image and stretched the left side. Squashing things on the right makes me wonder much more what is happening outside the frame – the light from the window is intensified. Though the distortion on the left no longer has a vanishing point.

Two point perspective gives a sense of indecision – which way to look? Again the eye line, angles and position of the mid line can be altered to create different effects.

I look in more detail at 2 point perspective in Part 2.

Three point perspective

In three point perspective all vertical and horizontal lines will have their own vanishing points. (NOTE there is also four point perspective where left, right and top, down all have their vanishing points).

There are a lot of the examples of dramatic 3 point perspective cityscapes (See Architectural illustration) . But many examples of ‘3 point perspective’ on the web  are really one point perspective or multiple vanishing points on a horizon line. The linocut mineshaft below is just 1 point looking down.

It was difficult to find a view with 3 point perspective in the same room because there is not enough height. The views of my bedroom above (from earlier art courses) are not really it. Even if I went to the stairway, this would also have been one point perspective looking up or down.

This nearest I could find was looking down at an angle on the table and carpet. But I need to rethink this – put my paper on a large board and mark on the vanishing points. And redraw.

The resulting drawing provided some interesting possibilities for abstraction using Procreate that could be explored further – even with a less than perfect perspective drawing.

But I need to think carefully about the eyeline – is this in the direction of my view, but my actual eyeline? That is where I was getting confused.

I look in more detail at 3 point perspective in Part 2.

Isometric perspective

In isometric perspective all parallel lines follow the same fixed path.

Chinese perspective was more or less isometric, though it often had multiple vanishing points. This was because many drawing were done on long scrolls that made linear perspective impossible. One effect of this that has been noted is that it gives an ‘imperial view’ a vista over a wide landscape to emphasis imperial power.

Isometric drawing is particularly used in technical and architectural drawing where people want to know which distances are equivalent, and illusions of depth is not important. Illustrations using isometric perspective often have a childlike ‘lego-brick’ feel as in Adam Simpsons ‘boundaries’ and ‘loveth well’ images.

Some of my earlier paintings had sort of used isometric perspective in the sense that it is approximated in Cezanne’s still lifes.

Isometric perspective was new to me. I found it difficult even using isometric paper – whether things should go up or down around the horizon line – the door here was particularly problematic as part of it is above and part below. Possibly logically as all lines go up, the lightshade should also go up. It looks odd.

But the effect of the painting over life drawing, coupled with different colouring experiments in procreate can produce some quite interesting images.

This is a type of perspective I could explore further. Some of my earlier images of interiors like the pen drawing of the bathroom and the still lifes could have been made more definitely isometric and that might have made them more interesting.

 Flat perspective

Here the lack of visual depth makes the whole surface area equally important. It has a different visual dynamic, placing more emphasis on abstract line, colour and shape. This approach is often used by illustrators involved in pattern-making, fabric design, textiles and other surface-based media. It is also common in film animations.

 See overview of flat perspective

Some of my earlier work in drawing and painting courses had almost been flat – and could have been more interesting if they had been intentionally flattened – though that was not the aim of the course. Some of the isometric images above could also be flattened and made more interesting. Some of the colour images in Project 1.3 are also flat, and the flatness could have been further exaggerated along with different colour and size combinations to produce more interesting abstract images.

I did two images moving round the room and joined them together into one long image in my sketchbook. I like this flat deadpan effect.

I later experimented with the image in Procreate – first digitally joining the two pages – a little tricky as they did not quite fit in tone. I experimented with different blend modes to get different moods in the room. But in general I found there was too much detail for this.

I then started to crop – first just using a single image. I found that very fine differences in cropping elements like the door could give very different meanings – either a very small dark area something that is not noticed, an annoying white area that has no meaning, or a slightly larger area that indicates another place of interest that is hidden from view. Cropping out altogether was not so interesting.

I also experimented with different crops on the joined image, experimenting again with different tones and blend modes. This produced the two images I like best – exaggerating the patterns and strangeness of the flatness.

This type of perspective would be interesting for a panorama – something I have become increasingly interested in in photography although here one gets interesting perspective distortions. I could also have exaggerated my earlier images of my bedroom and the bathroom also in this way in ink.

Magical realism

Storytelling does not have to fully use the rules of perspective. They can use them partially, or reinvent the world along new visual lines, distorting and bending perspective and playing with scale and other cues to visual depth. In this way they can construct new symbolism or narrative meanings and connections and new ways of looking at the world. Surrealism often distorts perspective as well as using unusual juxtapositions.

See for example de Chirico and MC Escher for surreal effects. Geoff Grandfield significantly alters the relative scale of different elements in his images to create mystery and hidden meanings that only become apparent when the eye follows his dynamic perspective lines. David Hockney‘s ‘joiner’ photomontages also play with the idea of perspective, as does cubism. In some of my own earlier paintings I was also very interested in distorting perspectives, as in the final image inspired by the Fitzwilliam Museum lobby stairs above.

For this exercise I started by doing a somewhat random photomontage from my memories and impressions of the room. I made things like the arch bigger, opposite the window – all ways to light and the outside. I made the doors narrower with just a slit to the light in the hall. Then the lamp in the middle larger – it hits tall guests on the head if they don’t look where they are going but is also a key feature of the room. I then printed this image out on art photo paper and made a brush pen version in black ink over the top.

Later I brought this into Procreate and experimented with different versions and colours – making the room light or dark, and leading the eye through into gardens with different weather. I also printed different layered versions – with just line, and with just the shading. The abstracted shading I find very interesting and something to explore further.

Finally I put all that away and just did a drawing with a large clutch pencil – different from the photo as I realised there were important elements in the room like the crayon picture of the dog on the wall done by my daughter as a Christmas present when she was about 7.

I found the pencil sketch from memory interesting to do – liberating in many ways and something I would want to do more of in other contexts also.

2: Landscapes of Place In Process Theory

Colour theory

In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is – as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art.

Albers  Interaction of Color 1963 p1

Our perception of colour depends on both physical factors relating to the way the eye registers light and more psychological and cultural factors that affect the way the brain reacts to and interprets colours and their relationships to each other.

Artists and designers have used and experimented with complexities and ambiguities in interactions between physical and psychological dimensions of colour to portray emotions and question the nature of perception. They may choose to focus on local or optical colour.

Some key implications of colour theory for illustration:

  • Artists may choose to focus on local or optical colour. Or use completely arbitrary colours to impose their own feelings and interpretation onto the image.
  • Tone is perceived first, then colours (yellow first), and then the image. Using flat primary colours will detract attention from the image – making colour the subject and tending towards abstraction of shapes.
  • Optical mixing is inevitable as the brain interprets colours, successive and simultaneous contrast.
  • Consider the effects of using strokes around shapes to increase or reduce colour vibration effects.
  • Precisely replicating colours across different media is difficult (eg RGB and CMYK) and devices (different printers and monitors).
  • It is desirable to allow for individual differences in perception eg colour-blindness or epileptic reactions. Some software allow for simulation of the ways in which images will be differently viewed.
  • It is important to be aware of cultural differences in interpretation of colour depending on ones audience.
  • All these factors affect the relationship between colours and harmony/tension in composition of an image and the ways in which the image as a whole will be interpreted.

Notes on Colour Theory

What follows brings together my notes and experimentation from previous painting, photography and printmaking courses and updates these notes as relevant for this course. See references at then end.

Physical factors


Light consists of rays of different wavelengths. When light strikes a surface, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected by its pigments. Different combinations of reflected wavelengths form all the observed colours.

Eye to brain

As light passes into the eye it strikes the retina at the back of the eye which consists of layers of cells including:

  • rods – that perceive black and white and allow us to see dimly lit forms
  • cones – that help us perceive hues. The cones in the eye only recognise red (long wavelengths), blue-violet (short wavelengths) and green (middle wavelengths). They relay these colour messages to the cones of the fovea, an area at the centre of the retina, whose cones transmit to the brain.

The brain then assimilates the red, blue-violet and green impulses and mixes them into a single message that informs us of the colour being viewed.

Perceptions of colour vary significantly between individuals depending on eye and brain biology eg degrees of blindness to particular colours, ways in which stimuli pass along the optic nerve etc.

There are many other factors affecting our perception of a colour, such as:

  • the surroundings of the object
  • its surface texture
  • the lighting conditions under which it is seen.

How much of a colour is used, whether it is bright, dull, light or dark, and where it is placed in relation to another colour are also crucial factors in our perception. A distinction is usually made between:

  • local colour: the wavelengths that are reflected by a surface under conditions of white light
  • optical colour: the combination of local colour with light striking it and other surrounding colours


Dimensions of colour

Pure hues: A colour without any black, grey, white or complementary is called a pure hue and occurs in Newton’s light spectrum.

  • Primary colours are those which cannot be mixed using other colours
  • Secondaries the result of mixing two primaries
  • Tertiary colours, the result of mixing secondaries with one of their adjacent secondaries.

Broken hues are the result of mixing these pure hues with their complement to produce browns and greys.

However there is significant variation between colour theorists as to how they identify primary colours, and also between additive methods (RGB used where light is added and where white is the result of mixing all light wavelengths) and subtractive methods (CMYK and pigment mixing as in printmaking or paint where black is the result of mixing all colours). Moreover pigments are rarely pure. The results from mixing also depend on the relative colour temperature of each of the colours being mixed.


The lightness or darkness of a hue, or tone. Pure hues vary in value from yellow (lightest) to violet (darkest) This means that  mixing them will also alter the value. If you squint when looking at two hues of similar value they will merge together. When pigments of equal value are mixed together this gives a darker value because more wavelengths are absorbed and fewer reflected.

Value changes convey texture, are used for shadows and form. Sharp contrasts in value produce the effect of precision, firmness, objectivity and alertness. Close values produce feelings of haziness, softness, quiet, rest, brooding etc. Dark compositions give feelings of night, darkness, mystery and fear. Light compositions of illumination, clarity and optimism. Middle values are relaxed and often go unnoticed.

Discords: when the value of a hue is altered by the addition of black, white or another colour opposite to its natural value order eg adding violet and white to make lavender.

intensity (also termed saturation or chroma) defines the degree of purity or brightness (as opposed to light) or how dull (as opposed to dark) a colour is.

Pure hues are those where there is no black, white or complementary colour added. When pure black or pure white are present they are noticed before the other hues and colours present. Pure hues differ in chroma strength – lighter hues have stronger chromatic strength. Pure hues can be dulled to coloured greys through adding grey of the same value. Or mixing with complementaries to produce a shade.

Neutral greys can be obtained through mixing false pairs – orange and green, green and violet, violet and orange. But they tend to favour one of the parent hues and are less powerful than those made by combining complementary hues. They can also be produced through layering.

Intensity can create effects on objects in space.

  • high intensities make an object seem large and pushes it forward in the visual field
  • light pure values like yellow advance most on a dark background and least on a white background
  • pure hues have a relative strength. if balance is required, they should be used in the right proportion.

Temperature refers to the warmness or coolness of colour.

  • Warm hues are reds and secondary and tertiary hues of red (warm yellows, yellow-orange, orange, orange-red, red and red-violet). Warm hues appear nearer to us and are generally more stimulating.
  • Cool hues are blues and secondary and tertiary hues of blue (cool lemon yellows,  greens and bluish violet. Cool hues appear further away and are generally more relaxing.

Cultural factors

Cultural background and experiences affect a colour’s impact.

Factors such as linguistic distinctions can affect perception of colour – in some languages there is no distinction between blue and green and so although people can distinguish when questioned they do not make an immediate distinction.

The ways in which colours are interpreted will vary between cultures and for different groups, and even from individual to individual. Even where colours are perceived similarly, they may mean different things – in Asian cultures white is associated with death. Red is associated with happiness and luck. In Western cultures black is associated with death and white with purity. Red is associated with danger and blood.

Colour associations are also influenced by the types of pigments available and their material value. For example:

  • blue   lapis lazuli for the madonna
  • purple   mollusc in ancient greece so royalty
  • ochres and earth colour
  • red vermillion:  marriage and luck in Asian cultures
  • black: means purity in Islamic cultures
  • white purity. turns away other colours.

Colour harmony

Colour harmonies have conventionally been categorised as:

  • Monochromatic: a single hue with its tints and shades produced by mixing with white, black (or its complement)
  • Analogous: three or more hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel. Analogous schemes are most emphatic when the common hue is primary. They are most harmonious when the middle hue is primary (eg red-orange, red, red-violet rather than orange, red-orange and red).
  • Complementary: colours opposite each other on the colour wheel. But different artists may use different colour wheels, complements are different between RGB and CMYK.
  • Split complementary: a colour and the two colours surrounding its complement.
  • Triad: equidistant on the colour wheel. These result in a dominance of warm or cool.
  • Quadrad: where the four hues are equidistant on the colour wheel.

However in recent years colour choices have become much more varied, partly because of artist experimentation to ‘break the rules’, different cultural influences and also because of the rise of digital software that enable the rapid generation of a range of colour options – for example Adobe colour.

Colour interactions

Itten and Albers studied the interaction between hues and the ways in which our perception of hues and tones is altered radically by the other colours surrounding them. The effects of interactions can be altered by using coloured strokes around shapes.

  • Successive contrast: perception of each colour is followed by perception of its complement as eye and brain adapt – this is seen by staring at a colour for some time then closing one’s eyes.
  • Simultaneous contrast: where adjacent colours interact with each other. Simultaneous contrast is most intense when the two colours are complementary colours.
  • Vibration where certain hues meet: Disappearing boundaries: where analogous hues meet. Dissolving boundaries: where broken hues meet
    This can be used to create mysterious effects. Or combatted using sharp edges.
  • Discords play a supporting role – they are easily overshadowed by colours that are not discorded, but they stop the tendency of hues to spread visually. Large areas in discorded colours should be avoided as they weaken a composition. But small areas reduce monotony. Light discords also produce the best highlights (because they are unexpected and attract attention??) The discord chosen should be based on the primary colour closest to the object featured in the highlight, or the next closest primary on the colour wheel.

When colours or shades of grey are sequenced in a composition leading from light to dark or dark to light then the eye is comfortable. But when the sequence is broken eg grey background, followed by white then black then the effect is jarring eg dramatic skies. El Greco View of Toledo.

Rhythm, repetition and movement

Repeating colours can lead the eye through a composition and create a sense of movement.

Emphasis can be accomplished by using colour in a number of ways

  • colour contrast: bright/dull, light/dark, warm/cool
  • area size: large areas of a colour versus small
  • texture: rough versus smooth
  • use of arbitrary colour
  • unusual detailing
  • contrast with surroundings

Harmony can be achieved through:

  • repetition
  • similarity
  • use of tonality
  • surrounding a colour with a neutral colour



Albers, J. (1963). Interaction of Colour. New Haven & London, Yale University Press.

Barringer, T., et al. (2012). David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. London, Royal Academy of the Arts.

Batchelor, D., Ed. (2008). Colour. London and Cambridge Mass., Whitechapel Gallery and the MIT Press.

Britain, T. (2013). Gary Hume. London, Tate Publishing.

Davis, G. (2008). 2000 Colour Palette Swatches : The Designer’s Toolkit. East Sussex, UK, ILEX.

Dobie, J. (1986). Making Color Sing : Practical lessons in Color and Design. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications.

Eiseman, L. (2000). Pantone Guide to Communicating with Colour. Cincinatti, Ohio, GRAFIXPRESS.

Feisner, E. A. (2000). Colour : How to Use Colour in Art and Design. London, Laurence King Publishing.

Gage, J. (1999). Colour and Meaning: Art, Science and Symbolism. London, Thames & Hudson.

Greenwood, K. (2015). 100 Years of Colour : Beautiful Images and Inspirational Palettes from a Century of Innovative Art, Illustration and Design. London, ILEX.

Hornung, D. (2005). Colour : a workshop for artists and designers. London, Laurence King Publishing.

Hudson, T. (2004). Hockney’s Pictures, Thames & Hudson.

Itten, J. (1961). The Elements of Colour. London, Wiley.

Jennings, S. (2003). Artists’ Colour Manual, Collins.

Livingstone, M. (2005). Patrick Caulfield. London, Lund Humphries.

Lynton, N. (2007). William Scott. London, Thames & Hudson.

Parker, A. (2005). Seven Deadly Colours: the Genius of Nature’s Palette. London, Natural History Museum.

Parker, S. (2016). Colour and Vision through the eyes of nature, London, Natural History Museum.

Roque, G. (2009). Art et Science de la Couleur: Chevreul et les peintres, de Delacroix a l’abstraction, Gallimard.

Sausmarez, J. de. (2008). Basic Colour : A Practical Handbook. London, Herbert Press.

Stevens, C. and A. Wilson, Eds. (2017). David Hockney. London, Tate Enterprises.

Wilcox, M. (1987). Blue and Yellow don’t make Green: How to mix the colour you really want – every time. Penrith, Australia, School of Colour Publications.

Zelanski, P. and M. P. Fisher (1989). Colour. London, Herbert Press.

Useful links

Color Matters wide general overview

Cambridge in colour – technical notes on colour perception, colour harmony and colour management for photographers.

Color Art has notes on vision science and art