What does your eye really see?

What does your eye really see?

Gestalt psychology provides a way for designs to maximize their visual impact through organization.

If you look closely at an impressionist painting, you see a multitude of tiny brush strokes, but it’s hard to grasp exactly what you’re looking at. It’s not until you stand back to look at the painting in its entirety that you understand that it’s a bridge over a pond, or a harbor scene in London. This is the idea behind the famous Gestalt saying: “The whole is different than the sum of its parts.”

But this idea also plays a pivotal role in design theory. Each element and principle of a design works together to create a complete image or object. Although a designer might look at each element or principle individually, the consumer will ultimately look at the design as a whole - so, the whole must be able to communicate emotion and purpose to make a lasting impact.

There are a number of Gestalt laws that explain the different ways our brains might group elements to create a “whole.” The main laws of grouping are: 

  • Proximity and similarity - we perceive elements as a group when they are placed close together or look similar.
  • Closure - an incomplete object can be perceived as complete if enough information is given.
  • Continuation – a design can compel your eye to move past one object and onto another, for example, through a curve or line.
  • “Pragnanz” - the brain has a tendency to simplify irregular or complex shapes to more symmetrical, regular shapes.[1]

Understanding Gestalt psychology principles can ultimately help you design brands that stand out in the noise and ensure your message is heard.

[1] Source: Gestalt

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