Exercise 15 – Reading An Image



For this exercise we are practising how to read an image and about image hierarchy.

First we are asked to list the content of the picture:

  • A dragon
  • Two children
  • Two piles of armour and weapons
  • A lot of valuables and treasure
  • A cave setting
  • A fire torch

and then answer these questions:

What the image is about. What is it saying?

The image seems to be about two curious children who have discovered a dragon and treasure in a cave.  The dragon is sitting on top of and wrapped around a large pile of treasure.

Work out the narrative and identify the story.

Two children had the idea of finding some lost treasure in a cave and discovered that a large dragon was there.  One of the children wants to leave after seeing the dragon, but the other child seems eager to explore further. The dragon is apparently sleeping and has wrapped itself protectively around the treasure.  It seems impossible that the children would be able to retrieve any of the treasure without waking the dragon. The piles of armour and weapons seems to suggest that other people in the past may have tried to steal the treasure away from the dragon, but failed and lost their lives.  The dragon is sleeping contentedly with a pleasant look on its face, rather than a scary menacing expression.  Should they try and take some of the treasure or should they turn around and leave?

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.

This image has both hot and cold colours present although the hot colours are dominant.    The warm red/orange colour of the fire torch casts a warm protective glow around the children and echoes the colour of the dragon suggesting that the dragon may be a hot creature, that it breathes fire or that it’s dangerous.  It could suggest all three.  I like the black and white horns which in my opinion add a touch of whimsy and fun. The cave has a lot of texture all around and behind the dragon looks darker than the entrance to the cave.  The dragon’s skin looks smooth in some places and scaly and rough in others. The amount of smoothness on the dragon’s skin for some reason suggests to me that it is not necessarily an unfriendly, dangerous dragon but in contrast, the dragon has visible claws, teeth and horns which could mean that anyone approaching the dragon should be wary.

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

Yes, the red orange colour is definitely the dominant colour and seems important in suggesting that maybe heat is central to the overall story.  There is a strong possibility that the dragon is a fire breathing dragon.

Begin to identify 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?


The most dominant element of the image seems to be the red/orange colour which immediately makes me think of heat and the fact that the colour cast by the torch seems to lead directly to the dragon which is also covered in this colour, suggesting that the dragon itself is an important element too.  The small children seem to be next in importance as they curiously enter the cavern where the dragon is.  The colour of their clothes are much cooler although the hair colour of the child in front is also fiery warm colour which may suggest that this child is bolder and more daring.  The contrasting cooler colour of the surrounding cave nicely balances out all the hot colours.


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