Visual Techniques: An Index

Please comment if you can think of any to add or don’t understand what something is.


Background – what is placed at the back of the image

Body Language


Bullet Points


Font – the size and style of the text; bold, italics, underlining

Foreground – what is placed at the front of the image

Caricature – a drawing that exaggerates the features of its subject, often to parody

Chiaroscuro – the dramatic use of light and dark

Close Up Shot

Clothing/costume – what is worn by the characters

Composition – the way things are arranged and placed in the visual text


Colour – this can be symbolic, create contrast, draw attention etc.


Crane Shot – a camera shot taken from above, similar to bird’s eye view



Depth – the distance between the foreground and background

Editing – the omission of certain words/images/sounds from the original

Facial Expression – expression on a character’s face to convey emotion

Fade out/in – often used at the beginning/ending of a scene to transition

Focal Lines – same as Vector

Focal Point – where our eyes are drawn to

Focus – the clarity of the image (eg. sharp, blurry etc)

Font – bold, italics, size, typeface, underline

Foreground – the opposite of background, the elements that are at the front of the scene

Frames – this is used in cartoons

Gestures – posturing or movement of the body to express and idea/emotion

Hand held camera

High Angle Shot



Lighting – soft, harsh, backlighting


Logo – symbol of an organisation, company, group, government etc

Long Shot

Low Angle Shot

Manipulation – for example, cutting and pasting a head of someone onto the body of a dog

Medium Shot

Mime – silent acting that depends on gestures rather than words



Numbered Points – to create an ordered list, tends to emphasise the importance or priority of each item

Palette – the range of colours used by the composer




Point of view shot

Salience – the features which stand out (ie. the focal points)



Size – how small/big something is


Tracking – the camera follows a character’s movement by moving with them

Vector – an object that directs our eyes towards the focal point. E.g. the subject in the visual text is pointing or looking towards a certain direction. Our eyes will follow the direction that they are pointingor looking in.


The Grammar of TV and Film – a great explanation of numerous TV and film techniques

20 comments for “Visual Techniques: An Index

  1. Ormo
    February 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    A good thing to remember is that sometimes their are different visual techniques for different forms. Documentaries for instance have a few techniques reasonably specific to that genre.

    • doco
      October 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm

      Would you be able to tell me what these techniques would be for documentaries?

    • abc
      November 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      mmm yesyesyes

  2. Chloe
    May 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    thanks for the list

  3. joe
    August 16, 2010 at 12:41 am

    this is very informative thank you

  4. Aurora
    November 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Salience could be added to the list as a technique or another word for focal point.

    • tutortales
      December 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks – added it now. TT

    • xoxo
      March 6, 2011 at 9:50 am

      This helped with my project but you should have put notes on symbolism

  5. dean
    April 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    synecdoche: a part representing a whole. e.g a picture of hands represents people.

  6. Amelia
    June 18, 2011 at 10:58 am


    • Amelia
      June 18, 2011 at 10:59 am

      I do think u need to do examples of all the techniques do it okay plz

      • someguy
        March 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

        dictionary normally helps if you dont know words 🙂 (life tip)

  7. Tik
    July 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    what does lines mean?

  8. Jorg
    July 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    You should also add Demand (meaning – when someone looks directly at the viewer), Offer (meaning – when someone in the image does not look at the viewer) and Mood (meaning – reading visual images in terms of gaze through the codes offers and demands)

  9. Amelia :)
    August 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    THX SOOOOO much! tots needed that! :)))))

    great job 2 b bothered 2 do that! <3 <3

  10. morey
    September 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    there is also juxtaposition

  11. bob the nob
    November 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

    motif – a recurring symbol

  12. hamzah
    April 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    You should add camera angle, given & new, ideal & real, offer and demand.

  13. Dovahbear
    October 31, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    There are some visual techniques that need a definition.

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