Key Steps in Illustration: Illustrating Visual Space

This exersice asked to work on composition and viewpoint when illustrating visual space to better understand how elements relate to each other. Due to the lack of a printer, I worked on this exercise digitally, which I think also works well because I’m able to scale the elements differently and try out more options.

Firstly I look at some graphic design concepts, and read about perception and visual weights, e.g. on Manifesto’s websiteSmashingmagazine and Thoughtco. While their article is more to s certain extent related to graphic design and web design, I think it still helped me to get an idea on when elements can be considered “heavier”, how to create balance with different elements, how to create rhythm or movement, and how the eye is drawn to the element that is different to the others.

I found three source files from my own picture archive, and created three basic cut outs which I varied in scale and size with Photoshop. I created a range of versions and played around with several perspectives, and composition. Here are the results:


Taking a closer look at the different versions, I think some work better than others.


This one can be considered the most classic one, with a horizontal line, and the elements in a normal scale to each other. However, I think it is also rather boring to look at because they dynamic in the image is missing.


kat-illustrates-visual-space (02)

Repeating elements in varying sizes add a kind of perspective to the image, without the necessity of having a horizontal line. The elements are in a right scale to each other, and the proportions are right. The elements further to the back are smaller compared to the ones in the front, so this composition is more natural. The kid and the tree are also in a right proportion to each other, which also makes it more real. The only thing is that the elements float in space, especially the kid because it does not have a street or ground to walk on, so this is somewhat distracting for the viewer.

kat-illustrates-visual-space (11)

In contrast, this version features the building enlarged as background. I feel that it also works because it appears rather natural, because the scale of the kid is correct. However, the tree is so small that it does not feel right anymore.

kat-illustrates-visual-space (05)


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This version looks rather surreal because the tree element now works as backdrop, and the kid is walking on top of the tree. I think it could even be considered as an abstract ground with the branches being some ways or steps. I think in its own way it somehow works well.

Making one element a lot larger than the others, places the emphasis on this element. For example, in this case, the kid is a lot larger than the tree and the building, so the viewer’s eye is instantly drawn to the kid, and only later the other elements come into vision. The diagonal angle makes it somewhat more dynamic, compared to a “correct” horizontal line.

kat-illustrates-visual-space (03)


I also think having a “wrong” scale is quite interesting to look at because it challenges the viewer to combine the elements themselves, and how they relate to each other. In this example, the line to creat the perspective is diagonal, which creates kind of creates a certain movement. However, the fact that the objects are placed in an opposite way to each other, makes it visually more interesting.

kat-illustrates-visual-space (07)

My favourite one is actually a “more experiemental” one where I used multiple elemends of the kid walking, and created a circle shape, walking away from the upside-down house in the upper right hand corner. I think it creates a nice dynamic for the viewer and conveys a notion of movement, yet is not as overloaded as the version which also includes some tree elements.

kat-illustrates-visual-space (14

I think this exercise relates to one of the previous exercises that asked to work on black-and-white designs and experiment with different effects. I think it is a good way to understand how important it is how elements are placed in a composition, and to note how they relate to each other. Also, it gives me a better idea how the meaning changes when elements are made bigger or smaller compared to the other ones.



Manifesto. “Design principles – Gestalt, white space and perception” by  Barbara Marcantonio.  Published on Feb 6, 2015. [Accessed on Jan 21, 2018]. URL “The 7 principles of art and design” by Lisa Marder. Last updated on May 5, 2017. [Accessed on Jan 21, 2018]. URL “Design Principles: Visual Perception And The Principles Of Gestalt”. Published on May 29, 2014. [Accessed on Jan 21, 2018]. URL

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