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Fine Art: Illustrations and Captions

Using Illustrations

In most visual culture assignments, you will be expected to include illustrations.

To do this you need to remember four things:

  1. Caption: Below each image include a numbered caption, giving details of the image and a citation of where it's come from
  2. List of illustrations: At the start of the essay include a list of all the images you have used in your text.
  3. Reference list: As part of your reference list, give full details of all the sources of the images you have used.
  4. Refer to the image in your essay: In your essay, tell the reader when to look at an illustration you have included.

1. The Caption


Name of artist, Title of artwork, date. [medium and size (if known)] Collection where the work is held, details of secondary authors such as photographers where available (Source, author, year, page number).

Fig1: Phillip Lim, Dress, 2007 [synthetic, machine stitched] V&A.

2. List of Illustrations

Fig. 1: Phillip Lim, Dress, 2007. [Synthetic fabric, machine stitched] V & A...........................Page 2

Fig. 2: Richard Rogers, Lloyds Building, 1 Lime St., London, 1986. Photographed by Welch, A. (‘Lloyds of London Building’, 2008) .........Page 4

Fig 3: Alvar Aalto, Model No. 41 Paimo chair, 1931-2 (Coles, 2005), p.51.........................Page 5

4. Refer to the Image in your Essay

For example:

An examination of Lim's dress (see fig.1) shows exaggerated motifs...

3. Reference List

Coles, A. (2005) Designart . London: Tate Publishing.

Lim, P. (2007) Dress. V & A. Available at: (Accessed 20 August 2018)

Welch, A.(2008) Lloyds Building. Available at: (Accessed 13 November 2019).

Printable Guide to Using Illustrations and Captions

Primary and Secondary Sources

As good designers, it is important to find  quality images to use in your work, whether it is an assessed assignment or practice-based research for your studio projects. Where you can, it is sometimes best to use primary sources. A primary source is an actual garment, design or artefact you are viewing yourself in a museum, gallery, shop or archive. You are looking at the physical object, and recording it in some way yourself - by photography, video, drawing, description in words. It is a direct interaction between you and the object.

A secondary source is one where you are looking at someone else's response to an object, it may be in a book, a magazine,  journal article, video, website.

The difference between using a primary or secondary source could be summed up by thinking about an exhibition at the V&A. If you visited and looked at a dress on display, took your own photographs and  wrote about your responses to the garment, you would be using it as a primary source. If you looked at the exhibition catalogue and read  what the author had written about the dress, you are using a secondary source.