Gestalt Composition

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Individual Project

About the Project

This assignment provided us with the opportunity to explore how objects orientation in space can convey meaning through their placement to other objects in the space and to the space itself. Using the principles of the Gestalt Theory as the basis for our composition, we were asked to illustrate five different words (order, tension, congestion, playfulness, comfort) using exclusively solid black squares inside of a 4.0 x 4.0 inch white boxes with only one constraint, no overlapping!

Project Process

At the very start of this project, we were asked to come up with 25 thumbnail sketches, 5 thumbnails per word. Here’s a look at some of my original sketches for each word.






After I completed these and was given some feedback from my classmates and professor, I decided to pick one thumbnail sketch for each word and started to experiment in Illustrator. Here’s some of my digital iterations.


For order, I thought of incorporating a repeated pattern and something that gradually increased in size to create somewhat of a hierarchical nature. This is what I produced.

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After I received feedback from my professor, I decided to enhance this design by using one of my other sketch ideas. I originally had this “pyramid like” effect going diagonally across the page.

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In order to create more stability, I changed the direction of the sketch to run horizontally across instead. I thought this decision made for a stable design that created order through the accumulation of squares in both a horizontal and vertical direction.

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This was my one and only digital iteration for tension. I think that it effectively created a sense of tension through the angular orientation of the squares as well as their variable sizes.

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I first started out with this basic feel of congestion, created by the inward tilt of both larger squares. This served to create a gap to which the smaller squares would appear to filter through.

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In order to enhance this congested feel, I decided to make the squares smaller so that more could fit.

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I think that decision definitely helped to create a more cramped feel.

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Playfulness was interesting to portray. It was particularly challenging to not interpret this too literally. My original iteration was a good start, but the downward progression of the square seemed to create more of a “fall” than a “jump”.

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I decided to manipulate the trajectory of the square to mimic that of an “intentional jump” off rather than an “unintentional fall” (no room here for dark and depressing depictions).

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However, I was still skeptical of the trajectory of the square, so I decided to play around with another idea. This one centralized on portraying “playfulness” through the use of a confetti/firework like effect. To my pleasant surprise, I think it proved to be the most effective.

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I found this to be the most challenging word to portray. In my first iteration, I had a couple of ideas that I was trying to express. I thought that the orientation of the squares was overall comforting to the eyes. Additionally, I found it to look like a window of a home, which I found to be comforting.

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However, I wasn’t sure if these interpretations were far fetched, so I decided to experiment with other ideas.

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My idea behind the final iteration was to create a sense of security. In this case, the squares at the corners would provide a sense of comfort to the centrally located square. I think it’s symmetry helped to effectively enhance its’ stable, secure nature.

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Final Critique

The insights from the final critique were great. They were constructive, yet extremely complimentary. For tension, a person recommended that I zoom in on the central point of tension so that it can become more of the focus of the piece. For congestion, peers suggested I experiment with the number of smaller squares used; perhaps I could create that sense of congestion with fewer squares to make for a more effective design. Lastly, for comfort, someone suggested I experiment more with the interaction between the white space and black space of the composition. All in all, it was a very pleasant first critique that left me with great take-aways that I can apply towards future assignments.


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