Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Your Designs Work - An Overview of Gestalt Principles

This is not the post I was going to write for today, but smack in the middle of my post, I found myself getting off on a tangent about gestalt. In case you're thinking I'm going to be all "psycho-analyst" here today, it's not really about that. 

I first learned about Gestalt in ART class, from one of my professors. But if you think this is just going to be academic yawns, know that we all use it without realizing it

When we realize it, we can use it easier, faster and with greater success!

Gestalt - in German, it means "essence or shape of an entity's complete form" In plain English - a unified whole. 

If you've ever heard the term "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," that was said by one of the Gestalt theorists.

In the 1920's, a group of German psychologists developed some interesting theories about visual perception. The theories attempt to describe how humans tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes by using certain principles. 

Our eye and brain likes to complete things. We like to see order and organization. We like things to flow gently and to relate to each other. Our brain compensates for the missing parts.

Are you feeling smarter yet? Well, you are AMAZING! You were designed to design! 

There are a few simple principles to help you learn, understand and USE the principles of Gestalt to your advantage. You can achieve intentionally what it takes much longer to do just using trial and error until it "looks right." You can understand what is right about your successful designs, and recreate it quickly. 

I have spent some time collecting photos on Pinterest to help illustrate these principles. 

Here are the principles of Gestalt:

When objects look similar to one another. People often perceive them as a group or patternSimilarity can include form, color, size, or brightness. The photo below shows items of a similar form (triangle) and brightness.

Below, there is a variety of different forms of items in different sizes. They become a unit due to the principle of similar color. It also helps that they are arranged in an orderly way that forms a larger shape (square). BUT - we cannot see the corner of this square - we complete the square in our brains. Isn't this cool? 

The items in the photo below are similar. They are also the same brightness (pastel). They are also going the same direction.

The photo below was named "chaos" on Pinterest. Chaos is actually the opposite of Gestalt - there is no order. This photo actually has a lot of Gestalt going on. Can you tell me what it is? Similar form, size and color. 

Again, this "chaos" has a lot of Gestalt happening! Similar shapes and color value, as well as the same font make it non-chaotic!

While it isn't totally chaotic, the artwork below is getting closer to chaos. Notice the differences of shapes, sizes, color brightness, directions, etc. 

Gestalt can be used as a tool to emphasize a non-similar object.

Closure occurs when an object is incomplete or a space is not completely enclosed. If enough information is indicated, we perceive the whole by filling in the missing information.

Here's a prime example of closure:

Ever see one of those "cut along dotted line" things? You're using Gestalt.The panda illustration above is a famous example. Here it is again:

Even unrelated items that are close to each other will be perceived as a group. Adversely, similar items with enough distance between them will appear to be singular and not part of a whole group. The books below are warm, bright colors. Though they are going different directions, they still form a visually pleasing and cohesive unit.

Likewise the groups of painted stones are lovely singularly, but have a more dramatic effect when grouped.

Symmetrical images are perceived as a related group in spite of distance between them. Symmetrical means the design is exactly the same on both sides. Here are some examples of symmetry:

Asymmetrical Symmetry is balanced, but not the same.

Asymmetry is the most difficult look in which to achieve balance. When done well, it is very interesting!

Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a unit.

The mind continues visual, auditory, and kinetic patterns.The eye is compelled to move through one object and continue to another object by inserting another element to connect them. 

My next post will include examples of room arrangements and home decor that illustrate the principals of Gestalt. I hope you'll check back!

Word for the Day:

Genesis 2:1-2

 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested[a] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

May you be able to see all creation in it's complete form as through the eyes of Jesus Christ, who sees you in your completed form!


Linking with:
Sunday Bloggers Party Hop
Monday Motivate Me Monday Making The World Cuter Monday
Wednesday Inspired by YOU Wednesdays Wow Us Wednesday - What’s It Wednesday
Thursday Suzy's House Party Transformation Thursday Share Awesomeness Thursday - Thursday Favorite Things



Best blog post I've ever read. I'm not just saying that!

I love this kinda stuff!!!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for new info...I will be seeing Gestalt everywhere now! haha


outjunking said...

You are really making me use my brain cells. Thanks I think! No I did enjoy that, we should never stop learning.
Have a great week,
P.S. can't wait for your next post.

Anita at Cedar Hill said...

Very cool. Iove this post too. I didn't really study design so this is all new to me. But I know that a grouping of things with a similar element works. I look forward to your next lesson.

Cathy said...

Clever, clever girl! You share your knowledge and experience so freely and fetchingly. Here's to the most creative person I've ever known! Love it! Love you. :)

Ann @ makethebestofthings said...

Great post! I "knew" this without knowing it. The "unified whole" is a great synopsis. I know that when I'm making/writing/painting I have the innate feel when it's right. Thanks for clarifying.

Ann said...

This is a phenomenal blogpost. Wow! I learned a lot and now have a better understanding about why I like somethings I try to put together and absolutely hate others. I've bookmarked this for future reference. I'm now following.

cathy@my1929charmer said...

What a great post, and really learned a lot. Thanks so much for sharing you have really enlightened me. Thanks for sharing your creative inspiration over at Sunday's Best Par.tay.

Kathryn Ferguson Griffin said...

Very simply put! Loved it! And, yes, I'm a month behind in my blog reading. lol. Hope all is well. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse