» Gestalt Psychology Introduction – Part I

Gestalt Psychology Introduction – Part I


Photo by Roe Ethridge. Do you see an awkward pose, or is she trying to create the illusion of a leg coming out of her groin to represent masculinity? This refers to the Law of Pregnanz


Gestalt Psychology is basically how our brains simplify our perception whenever possible. The whole is different from the sum of it’s parts. Knowing these interesting laws will help you incorporate more intuitive designs into your art, and also avoid potential confusion. Some very important Gestalt laws have already been covered such as Figure Ground Relationship, Law of Closure, and the Law of Continuity. I will briefly list the others (not all) which are important for artistic understanding. Sadly, if you search the internet for any of these Gestalt Psychology principles you are usually met with simple black and white diagrams that are vague and don’t really show how it is incorporated into art. Hopefully, in the following days, I’ll be able to clarify the method of use in art with in-depth examples and descriptions.


Law of Pragnanz-we see the simplest forms possible. We do not see the little mistakes in pictures, sentence structures, etc.. We understand what we perceive at first glance…without much thought. In this image do you see a man standing in a crumbling building or do you see the Star Trek logo?

startrek2poster-jpg_155636 Law of Similarity-we will perceptually group objects together when they are similar, which can be in terms of shape, color, shading or any other quality. In this case, Millet paints the peasants with soiled clothes while the masters are in nice clean clothes. They are grouped by similarity, not by sex, age, or race.

IMG_0046Law of Symmetry-the mind likes to perceive objects as being symmetrical and formed around a central point, and also likes to divide objects into symmetrical parts. We are constantly trying to visually balance our art either asymmetrically or symmetrically. Michal Karcz demonstrates perfect symmetry in this piece.


Law of Proximity-we group things that are in close proximity and see it as one shape which unifies them. In this photo by Aleksandr Malin he plays with the Law of Proximity to create an illusion.

James Cordeiro

For more examples of each, and a better understanding, stay tuned because we’ll be covering this throughout the 365.

To be continued…

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