Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exercise 2: Gestalt Principles

The Gestalt principles explain how we use visual organization techniques to create meaning based on what we see.  These five principles, proximity, similarity, continuance, closure, and figure-ground, are demonstrated below.


The principle of proximity states objects or shapes that are close to one another appear to form groups.

The square in the middle is made up of four rows of three individual and unique squares.  Though they can be identified as  small individual squares, our brains tel us that it is one larger square.

The wedges of cheese are arranged into two groups of five.  Our minds instantly group the wedges together in two groups of five, and then, after looking at it for a bit, we notice there are ten wedges.


The theory of similarity is that objects that appear to be similar will be grouped in the viewer’s mind.

Our mind will group the four m&ms together and will then group the three dots, and will group the three periods, the elipsis, together.  While the m&ms and periods are circles, they apear different to ur eyes, so we separate them into different groups.

Our mind divides this image into two sections. The top, larger images, and the lower, smaller images.  Together, they make up a large rectangle, but our brains first register this image as two separate images, the three large ones and the six smaller ones.


Proximity and similarity lead to the idea of continuance.  We are more likely to follow the direction of an established pattern than deviate from it.

The brush at the top of this ad draws your attention down towards the name of the brand and more information.  Our eyes want to travel down the paper, which is created by the paint dripping down onto the curved belt, which then draws our eyes down towards the brand.

The spiral staircase that these two people are standing on causes our eyes to follow the stairs down towards the middle, where we learn the name of the show is 666 Park Avenue.  Then we finally look at the bottom, where we find out that the show premieres, or premiered, on Sunday, September 30 at 10 pm on ABC.


Our mind seeks to complete images. We group images together using the principles of proximity, similarity, and continuance to complete pictures.

The World Wildlife Fund's logo is a panda.  There are no definitive lines that cause our minds to instantly know it is a panda, but our minds add in invisible lines to complete the picture.  Our brains link together the shapes seen to create a panda.

The USA Network symbol also demonstrates the principle of closure.  The "U" and the "A" are awkward shaped when looked at separately, but when combined, we can imagine the "S" being there.


The figure ground is altered by the size and placement of an image.

Generally, when we first look at the FedEx logo, we only see the lettering "FedEx."  If we look a little harder, we can see an arrow in between the "E" and the "X."  Once it is pointed out, it is easy to focus on the image as a whole and focus only on the arrow.

This Snickers ad has one face that can be interpreted in two different ways.  The first, we see a man with a hat and a beard. If we look harder, we can also see a man wearing a turtleneck. (It is also easier to see the two different men if you flip the ad upside down.)  Once we know there are two different ways to interpret the image, we can focus on one or the other interchangeably 

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