Gestalt is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Gestalt refers to theories of visual perception that attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes: A unified whole is achieved when a completed arrangement of all of the elements in a design becomes coherent.
The mind visually perceives objects in a certain way collectively. When you look at something the mind organizes all of the visual information available into a single whole, in an effort to provide meaning to elements in a sea of chaos.
In art, we use gestalt principles to make designs more appealing. By applying the gestalt effect, the beholder will generate whole forms from groupings of line, color, space and shape.
Gestalt principles are important because they are the foundation of design, understanding how people visually perceive objects. Here's some examples of Gestalt psychology in iconography:
Similarity occurs when forms, colors, sizes or objects look enough alike to be perceived as a group or pattern in the viewer’s mind. All these different elements give a sense of rhythm and will connote harmony.
This effect can be used to create a single illustration, image or message from a series of separate elements.
Continuation is the principle through which the eye is drawn along a path, river, beach, fence, steps, line or curve, preferring to see a single continuous figure than separate lines.
These compositional elements are very important because they provide a way for the viewer to travel around the frame to a secondary element.
Closure is a common design technique that uses the human eye's tendency to see closed shapes. By having the viewer work at filling in the missing pieces in an image, they become an active participant and will gaze at the work of art for a longer period. When the viewer forms the closure, a sense of pleasure exists.
This technique is often associated with stenciled artwork, but it is also closely associated with logo forms.
Items that are near each other tend to be related. Proximity uses the close arrangement of elements to create a group association between those objects.
If individual elements are also similar, they will tend to be perceived as a single whole, even though they are separate elements.
For example, when a person is standing and looking at a tree in the distance, it is understood that the tree is not part of the immediate reality closest to them. However, the third dimension, depth is lost in a photograph. It is just a two dimensional representation of the three dimensional reality.
This principle describes the eye's tendency to see and separate objects from their surrounding background. Our mind separates the visual field into the figure (the foreground) and the scene (the background).
Sometimes, it’s easy to pick out the figure or the object (the positive space) from the ground, which is everything else (the negative space). However, other times it may be difficult to pick out the difference.
It’s important to keep a balance between the negative and positive space or make a clear distinction between the two.
The law of symmetry is the idea that when we tend to perceive objects as symmetrical shapes that form around their center.
This principle states that a composition should not provide a sense of disorder or imbalance. Otherwise, the viewer will spend time trying to locate the missing element or fix the problem, rather than focusing on the message or instruction.
This conforms with the way we live our lives because we are accustomed to receiving information in a systematic and organized manner and will be frustrated by material that requires too much work to comprehend.
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