Part 3 Exercise

Exercise: Reading an image

Reading an iamge.jpg

I have been given the above image to analyse. The image contains:
  • A LARGE RED DRAGON, CURLED UP SLEEPING
  • TWO CHARACTERS, MOST LIKELY CHILDREN, ONE CARRYING A TORCH, THE OTHER POINTING OUT OF THE IMAGE, AWAY FROM THE DRAGON.
  • LOTS OF GOLD COINS AND OTHER TREASURE BEING GUARDED BY THE DRAGON.
  • A CHAIR/THRONE IS ALSO BEING GUARDED BY THE DRAGON
  • STACKS OF WEAPONS
  • ALL LOCATED IN A CAVE

What is it saying?

The two children have entered the cave and discovered a sleeping dragon, that is guarding a mass of gold. The dragon is also protecting a large chair/throne which might indicate it belongs to his master or former ruler that owned the gold.There are piles of weapons around the dragon, which might indicate previous failed attempts to get the treasure.

Work our the narrative and identify the story

I believe this is a children’s adventure story and is telling us of two children that have entered a dark cave and stopped suddenly when they see the large red dragon, curled up and sleeping in the corner of the cave. It may have been intentional to find the dragon and treasure or it could be that this is something they have stumbled on. The light of the torch that one of them is carrying is lighting up the cave – this child seems curious to see more of the cave and has pushed her arm forward holding the torch so she can see more of the weapons and treasure. The non torch holding child seems not keen to be in the cave and is indicating to leave by pointing to the exit, or back the way they came in. The piles of weapons could indicate that others have known about the treasure and the dragon guarding it so have come prepared, even if they ultimately fail to get the treasure – this means the unprotected children are in danger which adds an ‘uh-oh’ to the tension in the image.

Describe the palette and tonal range which has been used. Note if the colours are hot or cold, whether the elements are detailed or textural and where these approaches are used.

The image is full of bright and vivid colours, almost a little gairy in its amount of contrasting colour use. The hot colour of red is used for the dragon and the light on the cave wall from the torch, which indicates danger and warning and heat/fire means your eyes are immediately drawn to it.

 The cooler blues and purples of the cave walls and floor indicate a colder, darker space and add the fear factor to the image. These colours act as a good background to propel the red out of the page. Cool greens are used to highlight other objects like the weapons, children’s clothing which your eye gets to last. The children seem to be looking at the throne/chair which is a bold green (containing yellow) which is offset by the dragon’s red.  This is a hot spot on the image.
Is there any connection between hot colour and the importance of the element in telling the story?
Yes. The hot red colour is the main, dominant colour of the image. You see a red dragon, you fear a red dragon. The light and fire of the torch also being red makes you think of a fire breathing dragon so that again draws your attention.
 Creating tension in this story is important so cool blues around the dragon are important in helping that.
Identify the hierarchy within the image. Which are the most important elements in terms of carrying the narrative or conveying the ideas and how have these been treated?
The first thing you are drawn to in this image is the dragon due to its scale within the image and its hot red ‘danger’ colour.
Once you have locked onto this colour you immediately see the light from the torch reflected on the cave wall and also on the children’s faces. Then you realise there are two children in the picture and you get a sense of discovery tinged with fear.
You then readdress what the children are looking at which is the dragon primordially but also the treasure/throne it is guarding.
Finally you notice the less active parts of the image which is the space in the cool, dark cave and also the piles of armour which leads you to think about characters that aren’t shown but may have been in this cave before. This is an secondary thought process to the immediate story of the image.
 What appears to be a simple illustration of a well known type of children’s adventure story is actually telling us a lot more due to its composition, use of scale and colour.

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