Download Episode 34
Design Guy here, welcome to the show, this is the program that explores timeless principles of design and explains them simply.
In our continuing series on Unity, we've been discussing the Gestalt Principles, and to remind once again, this is all about perception, and even closer to home, it's all about our goals in composition, that is, it's about how we perceive a unified whole, and how that whole is actually greater than the sum of its parts.
Today, we'll look at the next rule in Gestalt, which is called Continuation. Another name we could give to Continuation is "Visual Momentum." Now, we all know what momentum is in physics. But in the visual realm, there's a tendency for our eyes, once directed, to continue moving in a certain direction. So, definitions describe continuation as this tendency for us to continue looking in a given direction, until we see something of importance, a dominant element in our composition.
But continuation more often has to do with how our eyes follow through, even through intervening objects as we track along a certain visual path. A simpler way to describe this is to say that our eyes will follow along a line, or a path, or curve, and perceive it as a continuous line, even if it crosses another line or object. So, for example, a lower case "t" looks like just two lines, rather than four lines that happen to be meeting in the middle. A lower case "t," or the letter "x" then, provide us examples where two lines, or two strokes, are crossing each other. In other words, we percieve them as following through, or as a "continuation" right through each other. They cross each other. At least that's how it looks to our minds, even though, strictly speaking, we could just as accurately define such a form as four lines connecting at a central point.
In design, we see this concept of continuation in a number of ways. Sometimes it's in the way elements are composed, we suggest a direction that our eye wants to follow, such as in a progression of shapes. In photography, our eyes naturally want to wend their way down paths such as roads and rivers, or perspective lines, like railroad tracks, or across a telephone wire til we reach two sparrows perched on the other end. In typography, we have an obvious and built-in sense of continuation, because, in effect, we're lining up a long string of letterforms for our eyes to move across, as a path. And, on the other hand, in the case of long, narrow columns of newspaper type, we're cued to read, not so much from right to left, but from top to bottom. And, of course, the narrower the column, the more we suggest speed. And this is why typographers avoid those big, dense, margin-less blocks of type, with over-long measures. It just feels like a brick wall, it feels inert, the opposite of something that would offer our eyes visual momentum or continuation.
But in the final analysis, continuation is simply about directing our viewer's attention. Maybe we want to guide their eyes by taking advantage of those perspective lines and send their eyeballs wandering down the path, or maybe we'll use an imaginary line suggested by some kind of pointing device, like an arrow, or the good, old fashioned pointed finger.
So, make mental note as you see ads or posters or other compositions to ask yourself, where's the continuation? What path or progression, what set of perspective lines or curves are being employed to create that sense of visual momentum that gets our eyes going in the intended direction?
Well, that's it for today. Let me remind you that a full transcript of this show may be found at designguyshow.blogspot.com, music is by kcentricity.com. And as election fever mounts, I'll ask you to cast your vote at podcast alley, or simply leave a comment at iTunes. Well, thanks again for listening, and I hope you'll join us next time.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Download Episode 34
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Download Episode 33
Design Guy here, welcome to the show. This is the program that explores timeless principles of design and explains them simply.
Well we're in the midst of a discussion on Unity, and as a part of that topic, we've taken a detour through what are called the gestalt rules. So, if you're joining us midstream, let's recap a few points.
A great exercise is to pay attention to logos, especially ones that are composed of more than just a few elements. If the logo is any good, that is, if it's unified, then you can look at it and ask yourself some questions. You can deconstruct it in terms of this rule of Similarity. And so you'll usually be looking at a bunch of shapes, or perhaps a bunch of lines or strokes, and you can ask yourself, what is similar about them? What makes the cohere as a group? Is there an element that seems to stand out for emphasis? And how does that stand-out element break the pattern?
Well, that's the rule of Similarity, and that's all we've got time for today. Let me remind you that a transcript of today's program may be found at designguyshow.blogpsot.com, music is by kcentricity.com. Well, thank you again for tuning in and I hope to have you back again.
Posted by Design Guy at 5:27 AM