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Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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Gestalt Principles

The form of an object is not more important than the form of the space
surrounding it. All things exist in interaction with other things.
In music, are the separations between notes less important than the
notes themselves? Malcolm Grear

Perception is an active process. We separate figures (forms) Figure/ground, also known as


Human cognition simplifies from the space, color, or patterns positive and negative space, is
an enormous range of stimuli that surround them (ground, or at work in all facets of graphic
into understandable units. The background). We see letters against design. When creating logotypes
myriad colors, shapes, textures, a page, a building in relation to its and symbols, designers often distill
sounds, and movements that site, and a sculpture against the complex meaning into simplified
confront us from moment to void that penetrates and surrounds but significant form; the resulting
moment would be overwhelming it. A black shape on a black field is marks often thrive on the interplay
and incomprehensible if the brain not visible; without separation and between figure and ground, solid
didn’t structure the so-called contrast, form disappears. and void. In posters, layouts, and
sense data into coherent objects People are accustomed to screen designs, what is left out
and patterns. The brain actively seeing the background as passive frames and balances explicit forms.
breaks down and combines and unimportant in relation to a The ability to create and
sensory input. It merges what we dominant subject. Yet visual artists evaluate effective figure/ground
see with what we know to build become attuned to the spaces tension is an essential skill for
a coherent understanding of the around and between elements, graphic designers. Train your eye
world. Building on memory and discovering their power to become to carve out white space as you
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

experience, the brain fills in gaps active forms in their own right. compose with forms. Learn to
and filters out extraneous data. Graphic designers often seek massage the positive and negative
By exploiting the brain’s a balance between figure and areas as you adjust the scale of
capacity to find and create order, ground, using this relationship to images and typography. Look at the
designers construct simple, direct bring energy and order to form and shapes each element makes, and
logos, layouts, and interfaces. In space. They build contrasts between see if the edges frame a void that is
addition to seeking out clear, direct form and counterform in order equally appealing.
communication solutions, they can to construct icons, illustrations, Recognizing the potency of the
also use the processes of perception logos, compositions, and patterns ground, designers strive to reveal
to invent surprising forms that that stimulate the eye and mind. its constructive necessity. Working
challenge viewers to fill in the gaps. Creating ambiguity between figure with grouping, patterns, and
Visual perception is shaped and ground can add visual energy figure/ground relationships gives
by figure/ground relationships. and surprise to an image or mark. designers the power to create—and
destabilize—form.
Figure Sky These photographs use urban
buildings to frame letterforms. The
empty sky becomes the dominant figure,
and the buildings become the background
that makes them visible. Lisa Rienermann,
University of Essen, Germany.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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100  Graphic Design: The New Basics

Bubble Dot Typeface


The letters of
the alphabet are so
ingrained in our
memory that they are
still recognizable
when fragmented
or distorted. Typeface
by Cornel Windlin.

Sense Data + Experience How Many Cars? We


perceive two cars, a red
In the act of perception, the brain puts
car and a blue car, even
together past experience and though our sensory
immediate sensory input in order to information about the
successfully navigate the environment. red car is incomplete.

We know a chair has four legs, even


when some of them are hiding. When
we see the top part of a face, we
reasonably expect a mouth and chin
to follow. Designers crop, overlap, and
fragment images to create dynamic
forms that exploit the brain’s powerful How Many Legs? Based
on our knowledge of
ability to fill in missing information. chairs as well as the
Typography is an especially sense data provided by
powerful system of sensory objects. the picture, we intuit
that each chair has
Because reading is such a deeply four legs.
ingrained habit, we immediately
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

recognize the shapes of letterforms.


It is difficult not to read a word sitting
in front of us. Yet letterforms
are also abstract symbols built from
lines and curves. They make no
The Power of the Gaze
sense outside the regime of literacy. The human brain
By blocking, cutting, or distorting is keenly attuned
letterforms, designers exploit to facial features,
especially eyes.
the tension between meaning and
Designers often
abstraction, familiarity and strangeness. focus our attention
Perception isn’t just visual.1 As on the eyes. Blocking
we walk through a city street or shady the eyes can create
emotional tension.
forest, layers of sound surround us.
We navigate this complex sensory
environment by intuitively associating 1. For an outstanding introduction to the
sounds with objects, from the science of perception, see Michael
drumbeat of footsteps to the song of a Haverkamp, Synesthetic Design: Handbook
for a Multisensory Approach (Basel:
bird and the shriek of an ambulance. Birkhäuser, 2013).

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
101  Gestalt Principles
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Fill in the Blanks Our brain connects the Denying Eye Contact The blocked eyes
parts back into wholes in this logotype for an produce a sense of psychological erasure.
exhibition. Philippe Apeloig. Paula Scher, Pentagram.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
102  Graphic Design: The New Basics

....
.... ....
....
....
.... ....
....
Simplicity We see two Similarity We see two Proximity We see two
circles rather than three groups based on the size groups based on the
odd shapes. of the elements. closeness of the elements.

Closure We close the Continuity We see two Symmetry We tend to


gap in the shape. long lines crossing close symmetrical forms
rather than four short to make a single object.
lines converging.

Grouping Project: Six Modes of Grouping


In human perception, grouping serves to both combine and Psychologists have identified various
separate. As a process of combining, grouping transforms principles of grouping; six common
multiple elements into larger entities based on size, shape, ones are diagrammed above.
color, proximity, and other factors. For example, we might Designers often manipulate one or
group three blue circles and three yellow circles into two more principles of grouping in order
clusters. Interface designers use the principle of grouping to to create images or compositions
color-code buttons with related functions (similarity) as well that are clear and focused or
as to position related buttons close together (proximity). unsettled and surprising. Interesting
As a process of separating, grouping serves to effects emerge when we use our
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

break down large, complex objects into smaller, simpler powers of perception to reassemble
ones. When we simplify criss-crossing marks into a lines, shapes, or images that have
few overlapping lines or shapes, the mind turns complex been pulled apart or interrupted.
sensory input into more manageable objects. Grouping prompts the observer to
build parts into wholes.
Designers were challenged to
create a series of diagrams that use
a common language of line, shape,
scale, and/or color to demonstrate
six principles of grouping. As a
starting point, designers researched
the range of diagrams typically used
by psychologists to demonstrate
these principles, such as those
shown above. Nick Fogarty, Laura
Brewer-Yarnal, Angel Kim, Trace
Byrd, Typography II. Ellen Lupton,
faculty.

Grouped for Function This digital control


panel groups related actions together.
Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
103  Gestalt Principles
Simplicity Similarity Proximity
Simplicity

Closure Continuity Symmetry

Symmetry
Similarity

Symmetry
Similarity

Simplicity
Simplicity Proximity
Proximity Similarity
Similarity
Simplicity Proximity Similarity
Proximity

U
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

U
Continuity
Proximity

Continuity
Proximity

Simplicity Proximity Similarity Closure


ClosureSimplicity
Simplicity
Simplicity Continuity
Continuity
Proximity
Proximity
Proximity Symmetry
Symmetry
Similarity
Similarity
Similarity
Closure Continuity Symmetry
Similarity

U
U
UU UU

U
Simplicity

Simplicity

Closure

Closure

Simplicity Proximity Similarity Simplicity Proximity Similarity


Simplicity
Simplicity Proximity
Proximity Similarity
Similarity Simplicity
Simplicity Proximity
Proximity Similarity
Similarity
Closure
Closure
Closure Continuity
Continuity
Continuity Symmetry
Symmetry
Symmetry
Closure Continuity Symmetry
UU
UU
UU

UU

Closure Continuity Symmetry


Closure
Closure Continuity
Continuity Symmetry
Symmetry
Simplicity
Simplicity Proximity
Proximity Similarity
Similarity Closure
Closure Continuity
Continuity Symmetry
Symmetry
Closure Continuity Symmetry
Simplicity
Simplicity Similarity
Proximity Proximity
Similarity Closure Continuity Symmetry
Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
Freedom
Freedom
Closure
104  Graphic Design: The New Basics

from

torture
Freedom from Freedom from and

degrading treatment
& D I S CRIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDIS
DISCRIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRI
DISCRIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRI
RIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRIMIN from
ISCRIMINATIONDIS C R I M I NATIONDIS torture
MINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRINATIO
DISCRIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRI and
r e TIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRI N A T I O N degrading
treatment
DISCRIMINATIONDISCRIMINATIONDISCRI
Proximity The disordered letters cluster
Proximity
proximity-- block of letters is read as one, whereas widely spaced Continuity The converging words read as
simplicity-- reads as x (x is a symbol of no entrance; we refuse acceptance of others)
closure-- forms letter I in counter space (we all participate in judgement)
parts stand out
together to form words. Devon Burgoyne. two lines crossing. Laura Brewer-Yarnall.

Freedom Freedom
Freedom from Freedom from

noitanimircsiDDiscrimination

torture
from
tor ture

symmetry-- discrimination goes both ways between people similarity-- capital and indented stands out as one
and degrading treatment
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

from
torture and
Closure Our powers of degr
perception close the gaps in
the letterforms. Angel Kim.
treat

Project: Grouping + Typography Each student creates multiple


At its most basic level, all interpretations of a given text by
typography employs principles using spacing, composition,
of grouping. Letters cluster into and alignment. Designers explore
words (proximity). Shifts in weight, the impact of principles such as
style, or size signal differences and proximity, similarity, continuity,
hierarchies (similarity). When we and closure to create new patterns
create “lines” of text out of letters of meaning that exploit the mind’s
and words, we exploit the power ability to reconnect fragments and
of continuity, which sustains the build wholes out of parts. The text
illusion of a single gesture or path. in this project comes from the Bill
This project encourages of Universal Human Rights.
designers to experiment with the Typography II. Ellen Lupton, faculty.
basic principles of typography.
Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
105  Gestalt Principles
Proximity The letters in this neo-Dada poster
have been scrambled and mismatched, yet
they still read as words because they cluster
into groups. Designers United.

KüNSTlEr
KUNSTlEr Careers Service

gESprach E
MiT
TOMEK 16. 11. 20.00

pE MzyK
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

28. 11. 18.00

TEr p i l l E r
arTUr 12. 12. 20.00

ŽMijEwSKi bETTi

Das Copyright der Bilder liegt bei den jeweiligen Autoren und Künstlern
lOcKE Na
Broken Curves The lines break into panels Die Künstlergesprächsreihe STUDIO REAL — KUnST UnD DOKUmEnT stellt
KünstlerInnen vor, die unterschiedliche dokumentarische materialien
und Themen in ihrer Arbeit fokussieren. Künstler wie PETER PILLER, der in

of color wherever they cross over other lines,


seiner Arbeit u. a. auf Zeitungsbilder aus Regionalzeitungen zurückgreift,
ARTUR ŽmIjEwSKI, dessen provokanten Video- und Fotoarbeiten gesellschaft

11. 01. 20.00


liche Konflikte thematisiert und Kurator der 7. Berlin-Biennale 2012 ist,
sowie der Fotograf TOmEK mZyK, in dessen preisgekrönten Arbeit »Outopia«

yet our powers of perception make them


Utopien der 70er jahre im mittelpunkt stehen, sind eingeladen über ihre

M aN N
Arbeit zu sprechen. Außerdem kommen TheoretikerInnen zu wort, die sich
in ihrer Arbeit mit dokumentarischen Darstellungsweisen und deren Ent-
stehungsgeschichte beschäftigen. STUDIO REAL — KUnST UnD DOKUmEnT
widmet sich jedoch nicht nur inhaltlich dem Spannungsfeld von Kunst

hold together. Felix Pfäffli, Feixen.


und Dokument, die Gespräche sollen auch einen Einblick in die Arbeitsbeding-
ungen von Künstlern und in die Entstehungsprozesse ihrer Arbeit geben
sowie deren unterschiedliche Haltungen zum Ausdruck bringen.

Die Künstlergesprächsreihe STUDIO REAL begleitet den gleichnamigen


Fachkurs im Studiengang Freie Kunst der Bauhaus-Universität weimar, der

alExaNDE r
sich mit dem Dokumentarischen in der Bildenden Kunst beschäftigt.
STUDIO REAL — KUnST UnD DOKUmEnT wird von Studierenden organisiert
und betreut. Die Konzeption und Leitung hat CAROLInE HAKE, Lehrbeauftragte,
Studiengang Freie Kunst.

STUDIO REAL wird vom Studierenden-Service-Fonds der Bauhaus-


Universität-weimar und des Careers-Service finanziert und findet in
Kooperation mit der ACC Galerie weimar statt.

www.UnI-wEImAR.DE

SchwiNg 25. 01. 20.00

haMMEr
STUDiO
Similarity The words have been split apart
across the surface of the poster, but color
rEal
STUDiO rEal »KUNST UND DOKUMENT« acc galEriE
bUrgplaTz 1 99 423 wEiMar

helps reunite the parts. Felix Wetzel.


Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
106  Graphic Design: The New Basics

Stable

Figure/Ground Interwoven Space


A stable figure /ground relationship Designers, illustrators, and
exists when a form or figure stands photographers often play with
clearly apart from its background. figure/ground relationships to
Most photography functions add interest and intrigue to
according to this principle, where their work. Unlike conventional
an obvious subject is featured within depictions where subjects are
a setting. centered and framed against a
Reversible figure / ground background, active figure/ground
occurs when positive and negative conditions churn and interweave
Reversible
elements attract our attention form and space, creating tension
equally and alternately. In stripes and ambiguity.
of equal width, each set of lines
can come forward or recede as our
eye perceives it first as dominant
and then as subordinate. Reversible
figure/ground motifs appear in
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

ceramics, weaving, and crafts


produced in cultures across history
and around the globe.
Images and compositions
featuring ambiguous figure /
ground challenge the viewer to find
Ambiguous
a stable focal point. Figure flows
into ground, carrying the viewer’s
eye in and around the surface
with no discernible assignment
of dominance. Cubist paintings
mobilize this ambiguity.

Optical Interplay This mark for Vanderbilt


University employs a strong contrast
between rigid form and organic counterform.
The elegant oak leaf alternately sinks
back, allowing the letterform to read, and
comes forward, connoting growth,
strength, and beauty. Malcolm Grear,
Malcolm Grear Designers.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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107  Gestalt Principles
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Artful Reduction A minimal stack of carefully


shaped forms, in concert with exacting
intervals of spaces, instantly evokes this
architectural landmark. Malcolm Grear,
Malcolm Grear Designers.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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108  Graphic Design: The New Basics

Concept Sketching
Fast, informal visualizations allow
designers to explore different figure/
ground relationships in a low-risk
environment that fosters invention
and discovery. While verbalizing
ideas helps designers build a bank of
potential concepts, sketching pushes
these ideas closer to reality. Multiple
sketches yield a more valuable
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

process than single sketches, as


drawings begin to speak to one
another, opening the mind and eye
to new connections.

Search and Find The designer explored


multiple iterations of core symbols in
order to create emotionally charged icons
that compress multiple ideas into a single
image. Chen Yu, The Illustrated Poster.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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109  Gestalt Principles
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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110  Graphic Design: The New Basics

gill sans
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Letterform Abstraction In this introduction Is Negative Space a Privilege of the Rich?


to letterform anatomy, students examined This poster (opposite page) challenges
the forms and counter­forms of the alphabet designers’ attraction to “white space” by
in many font variations, eventually isolating analyzing (and materializing) the distribution
just enough of each letter to hint at its of unprinted areas in magazines designed
identity. Each student sought to strike a to appeal to readers with different levels of
balance between positive and negative space. wealth. Sally Maier, MFA Studio.
Typography I. Jennifer Cole Phillips, faculty.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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111  Gestalt Principles
White Space
is a Luxury Good
AVG. HOUSEHOLD INCOME OF READERSHIP

$166,391 / ¤123.389
New York Times
Style Magazine

$93,960 / ¤69.677
RealSimple
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

$57,716 / ¤42.800
Ladies Home Journal

$39,626 / ¤29.385
OK! magazine

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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112  Graphic Design: The New Basics
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Retouched Figure becomes ground and


interface becomes image in this poster about
digital manipulation. Shiva Nallaperumal, MFA
Studio. Winner, 4th Biennial Graphic Design
Festival, Breda, Netherlands.
Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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113  Gestalt Principles
Trafficked Luggage tags represent proof of
ownership when baggage is moved from
one destination to another via modern
transportation networks. In this poster about
the scourge of human trafficking, a female
figure has been cut from a luggage tag, taking
shape as negative space. This vulnerable,
voided body has been stripped of identity.
The bar code is scannable, linking readers to
critical information about the magnitude and
economics of human trafficking. The poster was
exhibited in the Netherlands, a country where
prostitution is legal and trafficking is endemic.
Katrina Kean, MFA Studio. Winner, 4th Biennial
Graphic Design Festival, Breda, Netherlands.
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
Created from waikato on 2019-02-19 21:06:24.
114  Graphic Design: The New Basics
Copyright © 2014. Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

No Entry These crudely punched letters are


readable against the sky and sea, whose
contrasting value lights up the message.
Jayme Odgers.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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115  Gestalt Principles
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Counter Hand The simple device of cut white


paper held against a contrasting ground
defines the alphabet with quirky style and
spatial depth. FWIS Design.

Phillips, J. C., & Phillips, J. C. (2014). Graphic design : The new basics. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com
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