» Law of Pragnanz and Gestalt Psychology Best for Artists [Powerful!]
  • Vikings S05E01 – ANALYZED CINEMA
    #498 Welcome back everybody, huge thanks for the continued support! You keep in-depth articles like this coming. Much love! As artists, we can learn a lot from cinematography. If a film has an experienced cinematographer, like P.J. Dillon of Vikings, they will present the majority of scenes with nice lighting, composition, and design. All which […]

Law of Pragnanz and Gestalt Psychology Best for Artists [Powerful!]

What is the Law of Pragnanz?

The Law of Pragnanz is a Gestalt psychology principle that elite artists can use to create powerful illusions in their art. With the generic examples floating around the internet, it’s hard to understand how these Gestalt theories can be incorporated into our art. They won’t teach these techniques in expensive art schools either. Rest assured, I’ll give plenty of real world examples found in master paintings, photographs, and designs.

Once we understand the Law of Pragnanz, we can also avoid creating unwanted illusions. Salvador Dali and Vladimir Kush are both surrealist artists that are masters of illusion. They incorporate the Law of Pragnanz in almost every painting!

Some people even experience humor when the Law of Pragnanz messes with their mind.  We can see this in the celebrity photo below, which is compared to a similar looking animal.


How can we create illusions or avoid them?

First, we have to understand how the mind perceives visual stimuli. Just like the other Gestalt psychology techniques, the Law of Pragnanz plays off of the laziness of the mind. In particular, this principle plays off of the familiar symbols we’ve been developing since childhood; cars, animals, numbers, letters, faces…things like that.

The human mind loves to simplify, and quickly make sense of objects. It doesn’t want to sit there, wondering what is in front of it. That’s too much work! So, the initial glance upon a piece of art is the window of opportunity to manipulate the way the viewer perceives the art. To take advantage of the power to create an illusion!

Examples of the Law of Pragnanz in Art

A great example of the Law of Pragnanz being used in art is the painting below, by Salvador Dali, where he creates an illusion of a dog and face. Now, depending on your life experiences and the symbols you’ve developed, the illusion might hit you differently, or not at all. Generic symbols, such as “dog” or “face” will usually work for everyone though.

Initially, the mind sees the face and the dog, but when looking further it sees the individual parts that make up each object. The basic concept for the Law of Pragnanz, and the other Gestalt principles, is that we see the whole image, before the sum of it’s parts.


Since the Law of Pragnanz is playing off of our developed symbols, look at what happens when we turn this painting is flipped. We lose all sense of illusion!

We just see shapes and colors. The mind can’t easily group them together to simplify the visual stimuli. Cool, right!? That’s why some artists turn their drawing upside down…to eliminate the generic symbols they are seeing.


Some pieces of art are created to be understood in both ways. Like this image of the lion and mouse.


As mentioned, this can be incorporated into photographs as well. In the image below, I captured the model crawling in the bright sun. Later, the shadow was manipulated to create an illusion of a cat…creating a secondary story for the viewer.

Wanna learn more about how to control the way people see your photos or paintings? Consider grabbing the Gestalt Psychology video collection. You won’t find anything else like it in the world, and it will seriously make you see things differently…forever.

Law of pragnanz gestalt psychology cat shadow illusion-tavis leaf glover

Artist Statements About Gestalt Psychology Principles

Here are some inspiring emails from artists wanting to advance to the master level!

Hi Tavis,

Thank you so much, I can’t wait to get started! A couple of months ago I read an article by New York photographer Chris Knight (also boyfriend of fashion photographer and CreativeLive educator Lindsay Adler) which mentioned the Gestalt theory and triggered my curiosity. Through quite a lot of searching for more information I ended up on your site and to be honest, I’m probably more excited than on the day someone told me very kindly I needed to learn about lighting.

As a photographer I have always (until now) focused on technique, lighting, posing, expression, etc, etc, to improve my images,  but always relied on “intuition” and the rule of thirds for composition. So I am very grateful for your information on the matter, especially as it seems to be overlooked by many of my colleagues.

Very best wishes,


Hi Tavis, I have been diving into your work religiously in my off time and I can already tell I’ve struck gold. What you have created is exactly what I was looking for which I couldn’t find elsewhere. I remember stumbling upon some gestalt info in the past but it was related to graphic design and I dismissed it because I couldn’t easily relate it to my own art, but you go through and show exactly how it relates to 2d art in a way that is easy to digest and apply, and the dynamic symmetry has been blowing my mind. It’s one of those moments where I can tell my art is going to take a quantum leap forward as long as I do everything I consciously can to master this methodology. I am truly thankful for your work and effort in creating this, my friend.

Thanks again Tavis!

Daniel Dust

Hi Tavis,

I was able to download the rest of the Gestalt Video Collection! Watched them all already. Can’t wait to start applying them to my work!

Thank you once again, 🙂


Law of Pragnanz – What the Video Covers

This fifth video covers the Law of Pragnanz, a technique used for mastering composition. With plenty of examples and an on-location photo session (photos below) we will demonstrate how to effectively use this visual technique to create illusions from ordinary objects. The Law of Pragnanz video also touches on other techniques like dynamic symmetry, gamut, and arabesques to create a masterpiece. These are all the same techniques used by master painters and they can be applied to your art, whether it’s photography, painting, or sculpting, to clearly communicate to your viewer with power. This Law of Pragnanz video will take you one step closer to the master level!

*Pre-Requisite – since Gamut greatly relates to the dynamic symmetry of root rectangles (see Day 14) it would be beneficial if you familiarized yourself with it a bit. Not necessary, because the techniques in the video still apply, but it would heighten your level of comprehension. Alternatively, I have several videos on YouTube that explain dynamic symmetry.

Learn About the Other Priceless Videos

  1. Law of Continuity
  2. Figure-Ground Relationship
  3. Law of Proximity
  4. Law of Similarity
  5. Law of Pragnanz (current page)
  6. Law of Closure
  7. Law of Symmetry


On-location photos from the Law of Pregnanz video.


Gestalt Psychology Video Collection

EMAIL Download includes:
7 HD videos- Law of Continuity, Figure-Ground Relationship, Law of Proximity, Law of Similarity, Law of Pregnanz, Law of Symmetry, Law of Closure

After purchasing the collection, you will receive an email within 1-8 hours that will include your download links. On a MOBILE DEVICE? No worries! With the link in the email you can get the goodies when you’re back at your main computer.

Total Running Time: 1h 32m
Quality: 1080p HD
Download Size: 5.8GB

$184.99 $99.99 SAVE!



IPOX studios, LLC - Canon of Design - Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. Up