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Pragnanz

 

Explanations > Perception > Pragnanz

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

We tend to prefer and recognize things which are simple and clear, rather than complex and awkward. That which is distinct stands out, while that which is less clear may not be noticed.

Simple and familiar shapes will be seen first. Primary shapes such as triangles, circles, squares will stand out, even if they overlap. We see the shapes rather than a bunch of lines.

Example

In the picture below, you will probably notice a square, a triangle and a circle, even though they are rather trickily blended together.

 

 

Discussion

'Pragnanz' is the German word for 'pithiness', which means 'concise and meaningful'. It is an overall principle in Gestalt that underpins other laws such as continuation and closure, whereby we tend to complete shapes.

Familiar and simple shapes are strong in that they resist being interpreted as something else. The diagram above is clearly three basic shapes and not just a bunch of lines.

One of the simplest ways of organizing a set of shapes is to put them along a straight line, equidistant from one another. In this way there is an overall design that controls the positioning, creating an organizing rule that leads to a familiar pattern.

Simplicity is also created through separation, avoiding confusion caused by overlap. Larger blocks of strong primary colors also make an image seem powerful.

Artists are often taught to draw by starting with the basic shapes as circles and rectangles, and the hidden strength of such shapes can be found in many paintings. For example where there are three noticeable items, they form a triangle, which is the basic stable structure.

So what?

Be clear and concise in the images you create. Use primary shapes to show strength and power. organize using simple, familiar patterns and layouts.

See also

Closure, Similarity, Proximity

 

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