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estalt Theories Of Visual Perception The Gestalt theorists were the first group of psychologists to systematically study perceptual organization around the 1920s, in Germany. These theories attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes when certain
principles are applied. Gestalt means "organized whole") Gestalt means when parts identified individually have different characteristics to the whole (e.g. describing a tree - it's parts are trunk, branches,
leaves, perhaps blossoms or fruit) But when you look at an entire tree, you are not conscious Gestalt Visual Laws of Perception Designers use visual principles drawn from gestalt theory to unify their
ofThis 3) law helps us identify objects (figure) as distinct from their background (ground)
Figures are positive elements, grounds are negative elements Gestalt Law: Figure/ground (2 of 3)
Reading words depends on the Gestalt Law of figure/ground Contrast between the black letters (figure) and white paper (ground) helps us perceive words. Gestalt Law: Figure/ground (3 of
Awareness 3) of negative/ positive space allows us to see layers of meaning.
We see both the plus sign (figure) and the minus sign (ground). Figure and Background Figure and background are not seen simultaneously, so when
we look at this image our eyes have to switch their focus between black fish and white fish, never able to focus on both at any time. In this case, figure and ground are interchangeable. Figure and Background 2 In this image, the eye will first focus on the dogs, as they are initially
seen as the figure. When you change your focus to the ground, or seemingly negative space of the image, the eye adapts and uncovers the image of the Seattle space needle. Figure and Background Figure and Ground
This poster for the film Peter and The Wolf exemplifies the great creative potential in using the figure-ground principle to your benefit. On one hand, you get the image of a long wolfs body. When you
shift to looking at the white in the image (previously ground) as figure, you immediately spot a mans silhouette which we can assume is Peters. Figure and Ground
Gestalt Law: Proximity (1 of 2) Items that are located near each other seem part of a group. The closer items are the more likely the perception they are a
group. Gestalt Law: Proximity (2 of 2) Objects located near each other are perceived as part of a group. Instead of counting numerous distinct circles we see three groups.
Proximity When we look at this image, instead of seeing black spots and yellow circles we group the black dots together because of their proximity and similarity and see them as the figure of a Dalmatian.
Proximity 2 In this image, if the flying black person figures were more spread out thats all we would gather from the image, little flying people. Instead, they are close in proximity, in our eyes forming the shape of a tree. The principle of proximity is
also effectively applied in Unilevers logo. Since the small figures are laid out closely to each other, you can easily perceive the cluster as a U (in Unilever). According to their brand site, their logo was designed to include 25 icons, each of which
represents something important to Unilever. Coke wanted to convey happiness (one of its core brand values) by creating the shape of a smile using bottles. The fact that they are placed near each
other in such a deliberate Proximity fashion helps the viewer perceive that smile.
Gestalt Law: Closure (1 of 2) We have a tendency to visually close gaps in a form. The more familiar the form the faster we visually close the gap. Closure occurs because we seek to make the forms stable out mind
Gestalt Law: Closure (2 of 2) We visually close forms. The O and the U are easily read as letters despite missing parts. Closure
Thought to be a survival adaptation, our brain takes incomplete information and makes it whole. Although the white space between the black animal figures is not outlined or finished, our mind reads them as animals. Closure 2 Although this is seemingly just a group of curved dashed
lines, we perceive this as an image of a circle. We close the space between the lines to make sense of the given and absent information. Closure Closure
Closure Closure Gestalt Law: Continuation (1 of 2) We seek relationships between shapes, especially repeating shapes.
The eye follows along a line, curve, or sequence of shapes identifying visual relationships. Gestalt Law: Continuation (2 of 2) Continuation
occurs even when the eye tracks over negative and positive shapes.
Continuation Continuation The lighter blue line of dots are visually preferred because they move in one direction, the curved line giving it a relaxed feeling even though they are separate shapes.
Gestalt Law: Similarity (1 Visual of 2) elements similar in shape, size, color, proximity,
motion, and direction are perceived as part of a group. This gestalt law draws heavily on the design principle of repetition.
Gestalt Law: Similarity (2 of 2) We seek patterns, easily grouping the black dots into a number 4.
Similarity If this image only contained the rounded crowns, our brain would group them as two different sets, black and white crowns. But theres another element- the one pointed crown. That one is not like the others, so the similarity of the black and white rounded ones is strengthened.
The pointed crown is the outcast. Similarity 2 This image also exemplifies similarity in that the little black people are seen as one group, and the yellow is another. Although all the same shape, our brain organizes then into two groups. One of these things is not like the other.
Our mind perceives the similarly colored circles not as individual circles but as combining to form rectangles,
Similarity squares and lines separate from those Our mind perceives each of the proximate vertical bars to
combine and form a single image of a deer. Proximity & Closure The principle of continuity seems very obvious but we rarely pay conscious attention to it when its used in visual presentation. It indicates that our brain tends to follow continuous lines and unified shapes, even when they are made of disconnected dots and lines.
In an classic advertising example below, our brain perceives the fragmented lines as a Similiarity-Continuity-Proximity & Closur continuous whole, which makes the IBM logo even more iconic and symbolic of unification than its previous versions. Leveraging the law of continuity, the logo made of stripes of the
What is the Principle of Repetition? The principle of Repetition is formed by repeating visual elements such as lines, shapes, images, textures, and so on. Why Use Repetition? (1 of 2) Repeating visual elements forms a visual rhythm Repetition strengthens a design and makes it
more unified and cohesive. Use of repetition implies to the reader that there is a consistent organizational scheme in place. Visual elements do not need to be identical to invoke repetition. Why Use Repetition? (2 of 2)
Visual elements can vary yet still invoke repetition. The gray rule lines vary in thickness, yet still form a repeating pattern. The skeletons are conceptually related and form a unified repeating
motif. Repetition Example (1 of 5) Key to successful repetition is selecting which elements to repeat. Simple changes to letters in a word can change how the word sounds in the
readers mind. Repetition Example (2 of 5) Visual elements do not have to be identical to form a sense of repetition Visual elements that are similar and conceptually related invoke the principle of repetition.
Repetition Example (3 of 5) The illustrations are similar in style and concept (all delicate objects) and give the impression of
repeating elements. Repeating the top of the column in the background and in the logo unifies the design. Repetition Example (4 of 5)
Using repeating elements across two different types and sizes of pages helps unify them.
Repetition Example (5 of 5) Setting and consistently using a typographic master plan unifies designs across single or multiple page documents. A good typographic master plan speeds design decisions and simplifies type choices.
Consistent use of only a few typefaces forms a strong repeating element that dramatically strengthens designs. Too Much of a Good Thing (1 of 2) It is possible to overuse repetition Repeating exactly the same element can result in a crowded and boring layout.
Slightly varying visual elements relieves visual boredom, i.e. instead of one single thickness of line using several thicknesses of lines. Too Much of a Good Thing (2 of 2) Slightly varying visual elements relieves visual boredom.
The left image uses one thickness of line, which becomes overly repetitive. The right image consistently uses several thickness of line, adding visual interest.
Chapter Summary Repetition is achieved by repeating lines, shapes, images, colors, textures, and other visual elements on a page. Good repetition can unify single or multiple-page designs. The principle of repetition works best when used
with other design principles Compare the two logos below. One of the figures has an overall better gestalt and seems more unified? Name 3 of the 5 incidences of repetition in the figure on the right.
Unity and Gestalt (1 of 4) Unity is achieved when all the elements on a page look like they belong together. Unified designs make it easier for a reader to read, remember, and absorb the message. The human eye seeks patterns and the
unifying visual connections between elements. Unity and Gestalt (2 of 4) The principle of repetition draws on the ability of the human mind to see patterns and draw conclusions. When we see things that are the same or
similar, we naturally see visual connections between elements. Unity and Gestalt (3 of 4) In the early 1900s German psychologists coined a term Gestalt to explain why a strongly unified design seems greater than its individual parts. Designers use the term gestalt to refer to a
structure, configuration, or layout whose specific properties are greater and more unified than the simple sum of its individual parts. Unity and Gestalt (4 of 4) The top figure shows individual parts. The bottom figure shows
gestalt in action. When the individual parts are placed in close proximity, we see a face.
American Psychiatric Association: manual of Clinical Psychopharmacology. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc. 2010. Practice Guideline for the treatment of patients with substance use disorders, 2nd edition. American Journal of Psychiatry . 2006; 164-suppl A5-A124. Sigmon SC, Dunn KE, et al.
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