Archive for May, 2014

Grouping is a major element in Gestalt and can be influences the visual center of an image.

The different types of grouping are: proximity, similarity, continuity, closure and pragnanz. Each is discussed below.

This topic of Gestalt may seem overly simplistic, but it explains the actions of the unconscious mind during the act of viewing and it will become clear how it supports the principles of art and Elements of Design.

Proximity:-The principle of proximity or contiguity states that things which are closer together will be seen as belonging together. 

Looking below you will see how a grid of evenly spaced objects is nothing more than a grid of evenly spaced objects. It has balance and logic. Therefore, it is comfortable to the brains and the eyes can rest on it easily.


In the second image below, we still have an image of similar objects, though of the same shape. but brain considers them as belonging to different groups. Can you explain why? There is still a balance in the logic; it is just a bit more complex.


Proximity also works for dissimilar groups of objects, as shown below.


Proximity of shapes affects the visual relationships of shapes within a frame, but the illustration may be a bit too simplistic.

We now see 3 shapes of blue and 1 shape of grey.  When we consider the whole page, all shapes may appear as one single group. but when we consider them separately, the square is grouped with the 2 overlapping blue shapes. The single blue shape on the upper left is likely grouped with nothing.  This changes their reference and logic, so the brain may see them in either light.


Having too many things in close proximity can affect the  image negatively. This leads to incoherence, not allowing for the eyes to find a comfortable point of focus.

Grouping of this sort can be achieved with:

  • Tone / value
  • Color
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Or other physical attributes


  • Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam demonstrates the expressive power of proximity. The hands appear to be touching, although they are not when closely observed
  • Areas of use:Well, it is pretty easy.If want two, or more, objects to be conceived as a group, then place them close to each other. The human mind does the finishing work for you; grouping them. Remember the constellation of stars (big bear) , we name them as we perceive them as one group due to proximity in a sea of stars of similar shape and size

    For instance; if you have a dominant visual element, and a logo that you want perceived as being one unit, then place them close to each other. If you have a text, and you desire to link themes, then one of the ways you can do that, is by grouping the themes in the text (all others things being equal).

    Proximity is one of the principles often used in the field of web design because it allows for organized layouts to be created, with just enough white space to guarantee the desired visual perception.

    Can you identify the principle of proximity in the following images

    And you can play around with the proximity factor. Use it straight forward for straight grouping, or once you have established the group, then play around with it for different effects.

Some of my picture in which you can see the principle of proximity.

In the first picture although pitcher and sprinkler are two different things but just being close to each other, they are perceived as belonging to one group

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In the following picture, boy and girl sitting together appear to belong to one group


Using Gestalt principle of proximity, decide which would work as a smiley



And finally use of Gestalt principle in designing from Lexi



The principle of figure/ground is one of the most basic laws of perception,  used extensively to help us design our photographs. It refers to our ability to separate elements based upon contrast–that is, dark and light, black and white. This simple biological law explains our understanding of  abstract concepts such as subject/background and positive/negative space.


but  in the figure below, you can see him now, because there is sufficient contrast for your eye to perceive him against the background.This is a simple use of the principle of figure/ground.


In photography, we expand the concept to include color and content, not simply black and white values. In following picture, the white structure stands out against the background because of different colors. This separation may be achieved by throwing the background out of focus.



Similar to balancing negative and positive space in achieving a pleasing composition, we can also balance the two elements of figure and ground to help us create a successful image.Often our identification of the figure is helped by its position within the image. Most often, the figure is in the foreground as in above picutre.

Sometimes the figure/ground distinction is blurred on purpose. What do you see in the image on the right? Faces?  Or a goblet? When the figure and ground are equally balanced, we can be confused by the result.


The following is my own image


Throwing the figure/ground relationship off balance has various repercussions which can create interest in your photograph. In this photo, the ground overwhelming the figure helps reinforce the feeling of isolation and loneliness.



The opposite can create a feeling of intimacy.


Types of figure-ground relation

1. Simple

2. Figure-ground reversal (used in logo formation)

3. Figure ground ambiguity

Using Figure-Ground in composition

The mind tends to seek distinctions between the figure (the subject of the design or image) and the ground (the background). A designer typically wants the figure to demand attention; the ground should support the figure and not distract the viewer. A good design creates a balance in that the ground helps define the figure – whether through creating lines that define the shape of the figure, adding color that creates a mood, or establishing a reference point like place – but the figure is what the viewer notices and processes.

Distinctions between figure and ground can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Contrast of color
  • Blurred or out of focus background
  • Placement of the figure in the image
  • Magnifying the figure so that the ground is virtually non-existent
  • Minimizing the figure so that the figure appears to be isolated or insignificant

In addition to interesting optical illusions, figure ground ambiguity can be used to emphasize the ground while the most obvious figure is made less prominent. An example might be sightseers against a landscape in a travel brochure.

Care should be taken, though, to avoid images where the figure is camouflaged unless the intention is to require the viewer to search the image for the figure.