Modes of Visual Representation

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The Iconic, Photorealistic and Abstract are three distinct modes of artistic representation that have particular relavence in the genre of comic books. Scott McCloud describes these three modes through the use of a triangle, placing the iconic, photorealist and abstract representations at the three corners. In this way, he describes the three ideas separately, while explaining how each is able to blend into the other two through the side of the triangle they share.

Iconic Representation is a mode of artistic representation which uses ideas and symbols in order to portray something real in a simplified way. For example, the most simplified way of representing a human is the stick figure. This is the most iconic way of portraying a human and therefore is arguably the easiest to identify with. Since everyone has a head, limbs and torso, a stick figure is theoretically able to represent everyone, allowing a wide spectrum of people to visually identify with it.

Photorealistic Representaion is a mode of artiscit expression in which the image attempts to portray real life as accurately as possible. The artist attempts to recreate a photo image. Although this type of art looks the most 'real', McCloud argues photorealist art is more difficult to identify. He explains this is because photorealism portrays only one object rather than a broad range of objects. For example, a photorealist drawing of a person would resemble a photograph of one distinct person, making it hard for all other people to identify with the picture as one of themselves.

Abstract representation is...