Exercise: Illustrating visual space


“Using internet searches or your own visual references select an image of each of these

  • A tree
  • A child running or walking
  • A building

Photocopy them in black and white at different scales and sizes so that you have several versions of each image. Cut them into individual items with which to work. Working with a square format, arrange some of the cut-outs to create a representational image. You may use the distortion of the scale of one element compared to another to create an image which is interesting visually. It is not important that the image is ‘real’ as a photograph would be. Move the fragments so they are not always vertical or horizontal to the frame.”

Below are my series of four images. In each one, I have altered the scale and perspective of each item to create differences in the visual space. I did not have the means to create these images described in brief, so I have created these using InDesign with transparent png files downloaded from the internet.


Scan and print or photocopy these designs or do a quick trace of each design so that you can compare the visual impact of one with another. Then in your learning log make notes in answer to these questions:

  • How does your sense of the image and it’s meaning change when the figure is smaller than the other elements?

When the figure is smaller than the other elements in the image, the focus shifts to a broader viewpoint allowing the artist to bring scale and structure to both character and the surrounding environment.

  • If the elements are at differing angles to each other and at an angle to the frame, what dynamic is suggested?

Again this gives the visual appearance of distance between objects, but can also suggest a path in which to view the objects. This could also be used to show a chaotic situation or scene.

  • If all the elements are completely horizontal and vertical in relation to the frame what dynamic is suggested? What is your opinion about this image and what sensation does it communicate?

This creates a very clear perspective. Objects are to scale, giving the viewer a good sense of validity within the image. With this in mind, when an image is composed this way, it conveys truth to the audience, with nothing exaggerated in scale or perspective, it makes the image feel more honest and real.

  • Which is your favourite composition? Explain why you feel it is most successful.

My favourite composition is the image of the child in the foreground with the house and tree together on the horizon line. I think that the house and tree nested in the background give the image good depth and also allows the figure to stand out. With the figure entering the frame, it does not take too much away from the more distant objects. The slightly angled horizon line also adds a nice perspective.


This was a beneficial exercise, and I enjoyed creating different scenes by positioning and scaling the objects. This is an excellent tool for visualising the layout of my work and getting a sense of depth, scale and perspective into my illustrations.