This essayist (who took my class in the Spring of 2000) decided to answer question two on the paper assignment. Notice that the first two sentences offer a thesis statement, and observe that each paragraph has a topic sentence at or near its beginning, backs up its claims with examples, and takes care to tie claim (topic sentence) to the evidence it presents. Also, when the paper was turned in, the image (size 8.5 x 11 in.) was paper-clipped to the essay. I have placed it on the same page so that you can see it while you read; to view a larger image, click on it. Finally, please note that your own paper should be double-spaced. Since it's virtually impossible to double-space in html, this example is single-spaced. But yours should be double-spaced.

Shannon Winter
Dr. Phil Nel
ENGL 355 TU 9:30
Paper 1, Option #2
February 20, 2001

         My picture contrasts the dark, sharp, menacing objects with the light, calm, serenity of the hand. Using Molly Bang’s ten principles, I was able to depict this evil and suspenseful moment from the story, "Sleeping Beauty." Molly Bang’s ten principles teach us how to illustrate moments from stories or poems with abstract shapes and basic colors. By applying these principles, any emotion can be expressed.

         Maleficent was the most challenging object in the picture. Since the whole purpose of the picture is to represent evil and suspense, I knew that she had to be black. First, she had more rounded corners and her cape was straight up and down. I obviously needed to make her look more evil. So I sharpened up every corner of her and brought her cape to a point. According to Molly Bang, "We feel more scared looking at pointed shapes; we feel more secure or comforted looking at rounded shapes or curves" (70). The extended triangle to the right represents her outreached arm. I thought this made her look as if she were in authority over the situation. This makes her appear more powerful. Generally, powerful rulers and kings extend their arms as a representation of power and authority. The more I looked at this outreached triangle and its relationship to the picture, the more I thought of her cunning and conniving ways to hide this from others. Instead of just bringing the cape straight down off the page, it is more interesting to bring it to a point. Bang says, "Diagonal shapes are dynamic because they imply motion or tension" (46). Because the pointed cape implies motion, Maleficent looks as if she is ready to pounce on Sleeping Beauty or grab her immediately after she touches the spindle. It shows that Maleficent is in suspense and on the edge of her feet waiting for Sleeping Beauty to touch the spindle.

Sleeping Beauty by Shannon Winter
(Actual size 8.5 x 11 in. Click to enlarge.)

         Some other details that make Maleficent stand out and look evil are her horns, size, location, and her eyes. It is obvious that the horns give her away as having the characteristic of evil and menacing. Horns are associated with the devil; therefore, these become an essential part of depicting her. Her size and location portray triumph and power. She looks as if she is secretly peering down upon Sleeping Beauty. "An object placed higher on the page has greater pictorial weight" (54). The finishing touch to Maleficent was her eyes. They are the same color as the spindle. According to Bang, "We associate the same of similar colors much more strongly than similar shapes" (76). Also, since the eyes and spindle are both red and sharp, it makes it seem as if she is empowering the spindle with her evil.

         The spindle is the focus point of the picture. Not only is it the focus point of the picture, it is also the focus point for Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty. It is in the center of the page because it is the center of attention. "The center is the point of attention" (62). Without the spindle, the picture’s entire meaning would be lost. Along with its location, it also points up. According to Bang, "Vertical shapes are more active. They rebel against the earth’s gravity" (44). I chose red because it symbolizes fire and evil. The sharp red spindle and Maleficent’s sharp red eyes help you associate the evil within the picture. To go along with the whole "evil theme," I chose a gloomy gray background. It is dark, but light enough to contrast the darkness of Maleficent. I then became aware that this color seemed to signify boding darkness; the stage directly before complete and utter evil.

         Amongst all of this evil and darkness, Sleeping Beauty’s hand is very light, calm, and serene. The light color of the hand contrasts well with the other dark objects. Bang says, "We notice contrasts; contrasts enable us to see" (80). The color white could be used, but it is too overpowering in comparison with the spindle. A flesh-tone color is more appropriate. It is a soft and innocent color, but still contrasts well with the picture. To contrast shapes, I made her hand with rounded corners. "We feel more secure or comforted looking at rounded shapes or curves" (70). Another characteristic of the hand that aids in its stability is the top of the hand. According to Bang, "Smooth, flat, and horizontal shapes give us a sense of stability and calmness" (42). But, the hand is placed diagonally. "Diagonal shapes are dynamic because they imply motion or tension," says Bang (46). Because of the shape and location of the hand, it portrays her reaching out to touch the spindle. This implies some instability. She may be unsure of whether or not to touch the spindle.

         Molly Bang’s ten principles are very effective by teaching the use of colors and shapes to represent good and evil. Emotions from a particular event or moment in time can become evident through the placement and size of the various colored shapes. When I referred to the boding darkness of the background in my picture, I immediately visualized the next scene with a black background. After Sleeping Beauty touched the spindle, black would appear to exemplify that the deed had been done. Applying Molly Bang’s principles has triggered my imagination to visualize the consequential scene. I believe her principles can enlighten anyone’s imagination.


Bang, Molly. Picture This: How Pictures Work. 1991. New York: SeaStar Books, 2000.

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This page was last updated on 28 February 2002