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5 Different Types of Aesthetics

The word “aesthetic” first appeared in the 18th century under the study of philosophy. British philosophers used the word to refer to “a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a kind of attitude, a kind of experience, and a kind of value.” It was derived from the concept of taste in reaction to the rise of rationalism at that time.

Whether you judge based on rationale or based on your taste, we can all appreciate what we consider aesthetic no matter what form it takes or what field it may belong to. Here are the different types of aesthetics:


Art and Technology

Movie reel, action board, movie tickets, lighting, and director's chair.

Making a movie requires expert ability, in both the technical and the artistic sense, because it takes both of these skills for a movie to come out just right. Technology plays an integral part in movie-making, especially when it comes to your artistic options. For example, take a look at the following techniques.

Movie-makers can change the focus of various characters, depending on who they want the audience to focus on. When a main character is speaking, he is in focus, but the people in the background may be fuzzy. If one of them has an important line, the camera suddenly focuses on that individual.

This is called racking focus, and it involves changing the focus at several points during a specific scene. If more than one character is to be emphasized in the scene, they are both shown in focus. Movie-makers use three main methods to get the right focus, including:

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  1. The distance between the lens and the subject – the closer they are, the narrower the depth of field is
  2. Their lens choice – the longer the lens, the narrower the depth of field appears
  3. Their aperture choice – which controls the amount of light that falls on the subject

Frame, Flux, and Sound

Film crew working behind the camera while shooting outdoors.

These are broad areas, but they are the main factors when making a movie. Here is a description of each of these three terms.

  1. Frame. This is usually a rectangular frame, and it contains a specific image. The most important factor centers around what you wish to accomplish in the end. What do you want the audience to be looking at when they go see the movie? Are the colors and tones realistic? Is the scene well-lit, and most importantly, is it realistic?
  2. Flux. This refers to the changes occurring over many different frames. Is the camera moving, or just the actors? What techniques are you using to transition from one scene to the next? Does the lighting change between scenes? Does the sound change? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered for good aesthetic value in the end.
  3. Sound. Again, you have to consider what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want sound that fits nicely with the scene, or something which contradicts it? Are you going to use narration, music, or both? Are the sounds the audience hears realistic? Most of all, how is the sound you choose to use going to affect not only that scene, but the entire movie?


On set while filming at an indoor location.

This is a French phrase that means “placing on stage,” and it refers to all elements which end up in a specific scene.

This includes how the elements interact with one another, what they look like and how they’re arranged, and what their part is in achieving the goal of the movie-makers. It’s a term rarely verbalized, but which all movie-makers consider crucial to getting the outcome they desire.

Point of View

A man looking intently behind the camera.

Every shot in a movie is taken from a specific point of view, or POV. Most stories are told from a particular point of view, and the relationship between the observer and the character will determine which POV you choose. Below are two things to consider.

  1. Camera POV. Most often, either outside or inside POVs are used. Outside points of view can go anywhere at any time because they are not a part of the scene’s action. If a marching band scene is filmed from up above so that the audience can see the entire band, this is an example of an outside POV. On the other hand, if you want the audience to empathize better with the character, you may want an inside POV. It might limit the view to the audience, but it also allows them to see things through the character’s eyes, which helps them relate to the character much better.
  2. Story POV. This area has more to do with the script itself than anything else, and as with camera POVs, it can change throughout any given movie. If you’re trying to decide which POV to use for any of your scenes, things to consider include whose eyes the POV is going to be from, because the story POV is actually a higher level POV. For example, one movie can be seen and told from many different points of view, which means each character will tell a different story. This is due to the fact that people’s perceptions always differ from one another, which affects how they tell the story. This is why often, no two people relate a certain event the same, and the same can be said for different characters in a movie.

If you want to choose a POV, here are the main types:

Film crew shooting a scene outdoors with a hooded guy in front of the camera.
  • Complete first person. This story is seen, literally through the main character’s eyes, which means the audience may not even see the character unless he or she looks in a mirror.
  • Complete omniscience. Because the cameras and the story go everywhere, the audience knows more about what is happening in the story than the characters do.
  • Limited omniscience. This happens when the ending of the story is withheld from the audience, so they have no idea what is going to happen in the end.
  • Quasi-first person. Usually involving the main character, the audience sees everything from that person’s perspective, which means they know everything the character knows, and usually nothing else.

As with story or camera POV, many movies use many different types of points of view throughout the movie, depending on which ones the movie-makers think will do best.

If you wish to explore any of these factors individually so that you can learn more about them, simply watch a movie scene by scene, frame by frame, and so on. Look at the POV, and ask yourself why the movie-makers made that particular decision regarding color, music, transition, pace, and overall effect.

Ask “why” a certain option was used, as well as “how” it was used. The more you study these factors, the more you’ll learn about them, which means the better you’ll be when it comes to making a movie of your own that shows the best aesthetic value of that movie.

Landscape and Literature


Cows on green field under a blue sky with clouds.

When you think of the genre known as pastoral, you likely picture the pleasures associated with rural life. Picture shepherds and milk-maids, as well as celebrations of the simple pleasures in life.

The pastoral aesthetic is often used to indicate a “natural” or nature-based setting. One expert claimed that this type of aesthetic conceals the negative side of a person or setting because when someone is trying to portray a pastoral aesthetic, they want only good connotations, not negative ones.


Black and white deathbed scene of an old man lying in bed surrounded by men in different uniforms.

Sensibility merely refers to people’s capacity to feel and how they experience various emotions. Often, if you have a stronger sense of feeling emotions, it is just as having a greater sense of taste, because a higher sense of emotions affects all of your senses. Thus, in literature, sensibility usually includes strong emotional responses to almost everything.

This is why so many literary texts show so many involuntary displays of emotion, including sighing, blushing, and even fainting. Deathbed and prison scenes are additional examples, as are scenes where the bad boy becomes the good guy or where poor people suddenly strike it rich.

In literature, sensibility is often portrayed as contagious, but it is also about truthfulness and performance.

The Beautiful

If the sublime is masculine, the beautiful aesthetic is its feminine counterpart. Instead of overwhelming people with its power and vastness, beautiful aesthetics are based in softness and powerlessness. It also presents an image of needing to be protected.

Beautiful according to the experts say that people love and submit to them, and it adds symmetry and attractiveness, as well as other qualities.

The Gothic

A Gothic architectural building in Prague.

The Gothic form of architecture represents cultural nostalgia and a fascination with the un-modern, as well as with haunted buildings, superstitions, and even violence. It started in the second half of the 18th century, and it contains obsession with chivalry and anything that exists outside of the social order of things.

Examples include political oppression and psychological repression. Gothic aesthetics are often difficult to represent, assimilate, and even control.

The Picturesque

A picturesque painting of the Venice Canal in Italy.

If you picture a beautiful landscape painting, you can visualize what the picturesque aesthetic represents. Whether it is a painting of extraordinary mountains, the deep blue sea, architectural ruins, a quiet mountain cottage, or a winding stream, this is a picturesque aesthetic in action.

Special hand-held mirrors were once sold just to view a landscape and admire its picturesque setting. The picturesque aesthetic piques the imagination, pleases the eye, and can even create certain explicit images in your mind. You can’t help but admire and enjoy the aesthetic known as picturesque.

The Sublime

Violinist playing a composition.

This aesthetic has to do with a feeling of vastness and power. When you look at the Grand Canyon, for example, you can feel awfully small. If we read lines in a poem that are sublime or view subjects that are sublime, we get a certain amount of satisfaction from them, even feeling like we, too, are a little more enhanced from the experience. We are uplifted and our souls are fulfilled.

Just what conditions contribute to various sublime aesthetic perceptions? Conditions such as power, infinity, the magnitude of the building, uniformity, magnificence, and even terror, not to include basic conditions related to sound, color, light, and discontinuity.

If you’re looking for the sublime in a particular painting, take into consideration the landscape and barrenness. Look for rocks and ruins, and mountains and supernatural forces, such as earthquakes and fires.

The word “sublime” refers to such grandeur and beauty that it inspires as awe and even admiration. Sublime can mean majestic, elevated, and noble. It can apply to many different areas, including philosophy, architecture, literature, and even rock bands.



Oil painting of a young boy in yellow raincoat happily holding an umbrella for his pet dog as they walk through the rain.

With emotionalism, the expressive qualities of the artwork are the most important. There is a vivid quality in the artwork that explicitly expresses feelings, ideas, and moods.

If you see a painting that shows a person with an expression on his face, and you can tell immediately what he is trying to convey to you, or even a piece of artwork that shows the effects of an automobile accident, these are examples of artwork that use emotionalism.

The main point of the artwork is to elicit a specific emotion in the viewer, be it negative or positive, and to communicate an extreme or obvious emotion.

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Emotionalism art is sometimes difficult to make because it requires detail-oriented artwork that has to rely on visual aesthetics to elicit an emotion, and, therefore, it can be quite a challenge to achieve.


Painting of a courtyard garden with trees and fountain.

Formalism is an art form that emphasizes aspects that are purely visual. If you paint something that puts emphasis on lines, colors, textures, and shapes, then that is an example of formalism. This means that other things are considered not as important as its form, including its historical background.

It can be any form of art and any medium you choose, but in formalism, compositional elements are emphasized over social context or historical significance.

Other important aspects include balance and design, so when you look at the artwork, it has exceptional visual qualities and is extremely interesting visually. This is also a fun type of art because everyone enjoys something that is aesthetically appealing and visually exciting.


Painting of the Greek houses overlooking the blue sea in Santorini, Greece.

Also known as representational art, imitationalism is there with the goal of having the art look realistic; in other words, this is an art that represents what real people see in the real world. Therefore, if you’re making a sculpture or painting using imitationalism, the artwork will portray just what you want the viewer to see.

There is nothing subjective about the artwork because it is your intention to paint or sculpt a person, car, sunset, or house. In other words, it is objective, not subjective, and as the saying goes, it is what it is, and nothing else. This art contains objects that are clearly recognizable but are not always exactly how they are in real life.

For example, a tree will be seen as a tree, but it may be colored pink or orange if the artist wishes it to be. The main point is that representational art is easy to recognize and easy to understand.


Abstract painting of a person wearing a bowler's hat and holding a square mirror with the sky and sea in the background.

Instrumentalist art emphasizes a purpose or a specific message; it is very functional and visual, and it has the goal of influencing society. In other words, if the art serves a purpose, it is known as instrumentalist art.

Often called functionalism, instrumentalism relies on the skills of the artist more than anything else, and, as such, it usually refers to art that cannot be mass-produced.

If you see a few billboards or magazine ads with the same photograph or painting, this is not instrumentalist art. Instrumentalist art is unique and one-of-a-kind, and regardless of where the artist’s biggest talent lies, that talent is exemplified through that artist’s work.


Stone formation on a bed of stones.
  • Acid-washed: this technique is used to give the stones a more natural look; it does this mostly by lowering the degree of the sawn marks that are shown.
  • Bush-hammer: this technique produces a very coarse look and utilizes a hammering tool that uses various heads; the heads vary from fine-point to very coarse and usually leave lighter-colored markings on the stone.
  • Face: using a chisel or other metallic object, this technique results in more cleavage and indentations in the stone.
  • Fine-rubbed: this makes the stone free from any type of imperfection, and it is smooth and sometimes has a sheen to it.
  • Flamed (thermal): this process changes the color of the stone; it uses a mechanically controlled device and high temperatures on a plane surface to get uniformity.
  • Gauged: a process that uses a machine to grind the stone so that it ends up a certain thickness.
  • Honed: a technique using abrasive heads to get a dull sheen without any reflections; the sheen can range from light to heavy.
  • Natural cleft: a natural cleft occurs when you are working to achieve a certain thickness and a cleavage face is formed.
  • Planed: this technique usually applies to slate and uses a metallic scraper that removes a layer of the stone, resulting in its being smoother and flatter.
  • Polished: always results in a high gloss and very sharp reflections.
  • Sand-blasted: this technique results in a coarse look; it is achieved by blasting an abrasive and can result in a lighter color.
  • Sawn: this term refers to slabs that come from a gang saw; blades are applied to the stone with fine grit and water.
  • Translucence: very aesthetically appealing; occurs in several marbles that are white or lightly colored; it allows light to transmit throughout the stone in varying degrees and gives it a very attractive look.
  • Tumbled: a technique involving putting stones in a container of sand and rotating the container; this allows a chipped look on the edges and corners of the stone.
  • Variegated (veined): used frequently in stones such as marble; refers to naturally occurring variations in color and style, and it is more fitting when used on your home’s exterior.
  • Water-jet flamed: this type of finish is very uniform and textured; it also allows the natural color of the stone to shine through.

Zodiac Signs

The 12 zodiac signs against a black background.


Concert aesthetic. Examples include large crowds, lots of waving of hands in a crowd, beer cups were strewn all over, fishnet stockings that are ripped, and intense performances, to name a few.


Health is aesthetic. Examples include yoga pants, nature and meditation, bowls of sliced fruit, hair that is in braids, and nuts, and oats, among others.


Hipster aesthetic. Examples include comfortable sweaters, coffee mugs, shirts of plaid, cats asleep in blankets, and large stacks of books, among others.


Pastel aesthetic. Examples include pastel hair, pastel dresses, lace dresses, bows that are very frilly, and phone cases that are highly decorated, to name a few.


Romance aesthetic. Examples include playful wrestling, biting of lips, deep gazes, kissing in the rain, and intimate cuddling, to name a few.


Vintage aesthetic. Examples include gramophones, corsets, anything sepia-colored, aged photos, and garter belts, among others.


Fashion aesthetic. Examples include eye makeup, selfies in a full-length mirror, gold jewelry or rings, costly makeup, and high heels, to name a few.


Black-and-white aesthetic. Examples include horror, animals, gore, bruises or hickeys, and blood, among others.


Nature aesthetic. Examples include decaying buildings surrounded by creepy foliage, broken fences, wildlife close-up, sunsets, and landscapes, to name a few.


City aesthetic. Examples include skyscrapers, street art, blurred crowds, tacky subway stations, and zooming cars, among others.


Grunge aesthetic. Examples include teens hanging out, scraped knees, dyed hair, black lipstick, and neon signs, to name a few.


Disney aesthetic. Examples include modernized Disney princesses, romanticism, crowns of flowers, Disney movie quotes, filters that are soft or in black-and-white, and characters with tattoos, among others.

Definition of Aesthetics

Often called judgments of taste and sentiment, it is the study of subjective and emotional values. Through aesthetics, you can study how artists imagine and create, as well as what people think and feel when listening to music, reading poetry, or looking at art.

It can also describe what people are feeling when they look at art, and it can reflect basic moods and attitudes that are experienced by most humans.

Aesthetics can be used in fields such as architecture, clothing design, literature, art, music, nature, math, and even hate. Some experts have classified aesthetics into different universal signatures that include imitation, criticism, and style, among other facets.