Reading an image (Exercise)

For this exercise we were asked to study this image:

Reading an image

Breaking the image into its constituent parts:

Dragon – flame breather – it is sleeping – it is guarding golden/treasure/throne chair – it is quiet now but will be ferocious anytime

2 children – a girl – a boy – adventurer – narrative

Treasure/golden/throne chair – The cause of the story

Cave/ cavern – background of the story – dark/cold – deeply

Armour/weapon – failed attempts

Firebrand/reflection – yellow red hot colour

Mouth of the cave/cavern – it seems moonlight came in

Floor – shadow of the children – shadows of armour/weapon – from moonlight the deep dark

Colours – red dragon – yellow golden/treasure – green (with reddish frame throne chair) – yellow red firebrand – dark cave

And answer the questions:

1. What the image is about. What is it saying?

This image seems to be talking about two children’s adventures. They are in a cave where a dragon is sleeping, but is still guarding the treasure/golden/throne chair. The dragon could awaken and attack them anytime. At the moment they are talking about what they are going to do because they are seeking something. Maybe something that has been protected by the dragon?

2. Work out the narrative and identify the story.

The boy is behind the brave girl and the girl suggests to just go and steal the things while the dragon is still sleeping. Her right hand shows that she is sure something maybe just down by the side of the dragon. But the boy doesn’t agree with her derring-do because it is too dangerous. He is pointing to outside the cave maybe he want to return for a tool to use (something they can use so they don’t have to get close to the dragon). The firebrand in the girl’s left hand (yellow and red hot colours in the reflection) is very bright and has made everywhere very clear to see in the cave. The armour and weapons that are on the floor are from previous failed attemps to defeat with the dragon. Perhaps they were here in the daytime but they just came back when the dragon is going to sleep at midnight with a clever plan to drive it away.


I have found out this image came from the children book  “Tom’s Clockwork Dragon”  illustrated by Mark Oliver.

Tom's Clockwork Dragon-1 Tom's Clockwork Dragon-2 Tom's Clockwork Dragon-3

When Tom, a young toymaker, offers to rid the kingdom of a ferocious dragon, the king just laughs in his face. But then Tom meets Lizzie, and together they come up with an extraordinary plan.
The two children wind-up in a thrilling adventure in which the dastardly dragon finally meets his match.

3. 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 palette are used the mostly dominant reds (hot) and blues (cold) to contrast each other.

The hotter area works out for the foreground. The cooler areas sit further back in the visual hierarchy for this image.

a. The hotter areas:

The tonal range for the dragon is from yellow red to purple with primary colours. The treasure ranges from lemon yellow orange to reddish brown. The Flaming of the torch from yellow orange to red. Then the slightly hotter area of the 2 children’s faces and hands is yellow orange and red.

b. The cooler area:

The middle of the cave has red in grey blue ceiling, cooler blue for the shadow of dragon. Turquoise starting from the mouth of cave getting cooler with grey blue as it gets deeper into the cave.

c. The green colour:

The illustrator used green for the throne chair, the girl’s dress and the armour and weapons

Overall the colours are highly saturated for the elements so you can feel the heat of a ferocious dragon from the hot reds. The detail on the dragons face was painted in different hues of red to show it is sleeping. The treasure is gold and stunning yellow. The reflection of torch is lighting the ceiling of cave showing that  the texture of the cave is probably uneven or dripping water.

4. Is there any connection between hot colour and the importance of the element in telling the story?

The hotter colours link to the story to creating the important elements to convey and atmosphere the narrative for the image. The hotter colours are the first thing that you focus on and your eyes are drawn to the image. The red colours make the dragon look ferocious, emphasising its power and you can imagine that when it wakes up it will be a  fire breathing dragon.

The reflection of torch is also reflected on the 2 children’s faces and hands to convey they are tense in the situation.

Refer back to 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?

I think the most important elements of carrying the narrative are:

a. Dragon  b. children   c. glowing fire

The dragon is the most delicate depiction, has largest size and is also highly saturated with primary colours in this image.

The 2 children’s poses and facial expression help to convey the narrative of the story.

The glowing fire helps to express that the adventure is a dangerous trip.

Overall these elements are all formed with red colours.


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