Mandatory Assignment 01 – Design Principles, week03

The Gestalt theory gives us principles based on how our brain perceives objects. We make better designs when we know how the brain operates.

In this assignment, I went online to research the principles, and I choose three principles that I found particularly interesting and developed a design for each, using only the tools and materials given in the assignment.

I found a thorough article here, in three parts:

An other interesting page is this one: This explanation of the principles I found perticularly helpful:

The central principle to the Gestalt theory was neatly summarized by the Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka: «The whole is other than the sum of the parts.» The human eye and brain perceive a unified shape in a different way to the way they perceive the individual parts of those shapes. This global whole is a separate entity that is not necessarily formed by the sum of its parts.

In the book Graphic Design: the new basics, in chapter Gestalt, we find this quote:

The ability to create and evalueate effective figure/ground tension is an essential skill for graphic designers. Train your eye to carve out white space as you compose forms, Learn to massage the postive and neagative areas as you adjust the scale of images and typography. Look at hte shapes each element makes, and see if the edges frame a void that is equally appealing.

In his article about design principles, Jon Hensley gives a thorough presentation of concepts we are studying this week.

  • Figure / Ground: What is in the foreground and what is in the background?
  • Continuation: (Continuity: We follow the lines) Once the eye begins to follow something, it will continue in that direction until it encounters another object.
  • Closure: Viewers can fill the gaps to see the full picture.
  • Proximity: Related elements are grouped together to form a whole. (Grouping: We tie objects that are near each other together.)
  • Similarity: We link similar elements together.
  • Common Fate: Elements that move in the same direction are seen to be related. Think of a flock of birds.
  • Prägnanz: We tend to reorganise complex shapes into a simpler whole.

Having researced the principles, I choose to make a design for the concepts Figure/Ground, Symmetry and Continuity. The ground rules for the assigments are limited to paper, pencil, a knife, paper and relevant materials. The dimentions have to be 25 x 25 cm.

When developing new ideas, I like to collect all the requirements and elements and almost feel them dictate the direction of the project. The physicality of working with paper and with the tools given lends itself towards cutouts. I thought it would be interesting to represent the concepts using the actual words. I have taken photos of the illustrations to show their physical nature.


Continuity let the eye travel along a path until it is distrubted. I use contrasting colours, the cut out of the last letter and the breaking of the line to show this principal in a simplistic form.


Symmetry repeats a pattern on both sides of an axis. I cut the shapes of the letters and created this effect by bending the paper. The nature of the paper gave me a shadow and in imperfect shape, which I actually felt contributed to the subject, as a slight lack of symmetry can illustrate the principle too.


Which shapes the brain interprets as close or distant can be influenced by warm or cold colours, overlaps, relationships to edges, sizes and other shapes. I decided to use colours, cutouts and play around with it.

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