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Essay on Visual Cues

Visual communication is the act of using visual elements such as charts, graphs, and diagrams to effectively and efficiently pass information or ideas. However, for visual; communication to occur, the eyes must be functioning normally, and the brain must be able to interpret all the received sensory information. Generally, research shows that any curious mind should be able to remember and utilize visual messages in meticulous and innovative ways. Notably, if an image produced by an artist has to be memorable, they must possess compelling and strong literal and symbolic messages. The aforementioned is achieved through proper utilization of the four visual cues, that is, color, form, depth, and environment. Accordingly, these visual cues are significant in attracting the attention of a presentation when done on a screen or a print. This paper describes the four visual cues and outlines how they can be utilized to effectively convey information or ideas.

Color is one of the most important cues in effective visual communication. Scientists and philosophers have attempted to expound on the nature of color. For instance, Aristotle elucidates that light and color are two different names that have been used to describe the same visual phenomena. Consequently, Leonardo da Vinci, one of the great masters in painting, articulated six primary colors that are unique and independent: white, black, red, yellow, green, and blue (Lester, 2020). Experimentally, he proved that if the six colors were mixed in varying degrees, they would efficiently create all colors visible to any human being. Graphic designers in print and screen media are cautious about their choice of colors whenever they need to grab people’s attention. They are considerate of the symbolic meaning of colors and the momentousness in the crowded media market. Consequently, the designers consider the people with low vision and color deficiencies by avoiding highlighting text in red and green colors since they are not easily visible. Therefore, color is a powerful and subjective means of visual communication.

Furthermore, form is another attribute of images that the brain quickly responds to. The form attribute is comprised of dots, lines, and shapes. Dots are considered the simplest form as they can easily be written using a stylus (Amare, 2013). Inclusivity of a dot within a framed space is fundamental in visual communication. When one or two dots are used in an image, they are likely to elicit tension and may make the layout seem out of balance. However, when the dots are more, people naturally connect them to create a line or a shape. A line appears when dots of equal size are closely packed together, limiting their space. If the outcome of the dots is a straight line, be used to imply stiffness and rigidity message. Also, if it is a horizontal line, the image might elicit feelings of confinement. A combination of dots and lines creates different shapes, such as triangles and circles, implying different meanings in distinct cultures.

Depth is another visual cue that is fundamental in visual communication. Naturally, human beings are created to see with two eyes that are apart from each other. As a result, we see depth, length, and width in three dimensions. According to Charles Wheatstone, our two eyes make us have distinct views and have depth illusion. Therefore, space, size, color, texture gradients, time, and perspectives are the eight factors that elicit the depth illusion in views (Shadlen, 2005). When these cues are concurrently used with our eyes, we can distinguish an object that is far or near to us. For example, when an object is drawn with bright colors and has a great difference between light and dark tones, it is perceived by our brain to be closer than the one drawn with neutral colors.

Movement is the last visual cue constituted by color, form, and depth. In any virtual context, if the cells have to respond to a stimulus, these principal qualities of images must be utilized. Therefore, the artist has to ensure that the viewers can distinguish between a moving object or one that is farther away. Notably, there are four types of movement; graphic, real, implied, and apparent. For instance, to achieve apparent movement in films, graphic designers sequentially align still images then move at a fast speed in viewing devices (Lester, 2020). Besides, graphic designers achieve graphic movement by positioning the various graphic elements in a layout. This ensures the viewer’s eyes can scan throughout a layout with ease and notice the important parts.

Conclusively, it is evident that the four visual cues, form, color, depth, and movement, have been used by visual communicators to convey information effectively. They have achieved this communication by easily grabbing the viewers’ attention with pictures that are easy to memorize. Therefore, all graphic designers should know that the brain cells are stimulated whenever there is a relative distinction between visual elements in terms of their intensity.


Amare, N. (2013). Teaching form and color as emotion triggers. Designing Texts: Teaching Visual Communication.

Lester, P. M. (2020). Visual communication images with messages (9th ed.). Lex Publishing.

Shadlen, M. (2005). Faculty opinions recommendation of reaching for visual cues to depth: The brain combines depth cues differently for motor control and perception. Faculty Opinions – Post-Publication Peer Review of the Biomedical Literature.


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