gestalt principles proximity example

Graphic Design Basics: What Are The Gestalt Principles?

Gestalt Principles separate letters

“All things exist in interaction with other things.” – Malcolm Grear

The Gestalt Principles, also known as the principles of grouping, were proposed by psychologists in the early 20th century to explain how humans naturally perceive visual objects as organized patterns. According to the principles, “objects or shapes that are close to one another appear to form groups”. This holds true even if the shapes, sizes, and objects are very different from one another.

There were categories of grouping described by the principles that have evolved into six that are recognized by psychologists today: Simplicity, Similarity, Proximity, Closure, Continuity, Symmetry.

Proximity. Notice how in the above image the three “A” letters are separate. Their proximity is far away. The letters seem distant, not related to each other, and create all kinds of negative space within the frame.

Now look at the three “A” letters below in close proximity. One shape is created. The letters relate to each other. And, the negative space is around the shape, framing it perfectly.

Gestalt Principles together letters

The same principle applies to shapes that are far or close proximity. On the left the shapes are separate and your eye drops down between each shape where there is negative space. On the right, the shapes create a new shape, one that could be interpreted as a symbol or pattern.

Gestalt Principles close and far shapes

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