book review: picture this, how pictures work

Last month I finished Picture This: How Pictures Work. Written by Molly Bang, it’s a brief book about composition in design that describes our reactions to various design elements. I liked it very much because it’s clear and easy to read. I gained many insights from the author’s experience, including how color, shape, and placement on a page impact our perception of images.

One principle that I found interesting was this: “space implies time.” To demonstrate this, Bang shows the following two images.

From the first image, she observes that the closeness between the two figures (victim and attacker) could imply that they’re merely having a chat.

When in the second image, there is more space between the two figures, one has “more time to be scared. . . To put it in purely formal terms, there is more tension in the picture because the objects are ‘on edge’ at the two poles of the page, separated from each other by the vast, diagonal empty space cutting through the center, but associated and drawn together by color.”

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