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Angles Add Effort

 

Explanations > Perception > Visual Perception > Angles Add Effort

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When the eye looks at something, tracing its outline and the shapes within it, the more angles the eye has to traverse, the greater the mental effort required.

Effort increases as the angle increases and the sharpness of the turn increases.

This may be small, but it can become significant when it is accumulates over multiple angles.

Example

A contemporary artist deliberately creates angular pictures to exhaust the viewer so they will be less resistant to the challenging ideas that the artwork portrays.

An advertising graphic artist uses a small number of lines and makes angles curved in order to soften the advert and relax the viewer.

Discussion

The eye traverses lines in order to understand shape, identify objects and distinguish parts of objects. It follows lines much like cars follow roads, where work is needed to navigate the bends.

When the eye has to change direction, it requires extra mental effort in deciding which way to go. The sharper and greater the angle, the more the eye has to search for the right way. An individual turn may make little noticeable difference, but eventually the accumulative cognitive effort is felt by the viewer.

This is one reason why abstract art, such as practiced by Picasso, can create tensions with all its angles and juxtapositions.

So what?

Decide how relaxed or tense you want your viewer to be, then design your image to create this effect.

Add straight lines and curves for relaxation and multiple sharp angles for tension. Combine this with the natural locus of the eye through the picture as it pays attention to key items, for example the major objects, things closer to the viewer and so on.

See also

Lines are Like Eye-Roads, Straight Lines Reduce Effort

 

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