Figure-Ground Relationship, Good Continuation, and Highlighting

January 27, 2011

By Group Touch: Sharon, Hilda, Kenny, Prisilla, and Amir

Figure-Ground Relationship

The figure-ground relationship is one of several Gestalt principles of perception. Human perception separates stimuli into either figures (objects of focus) or ground (the rest of the perceptual field, an undifferentiated background). This principle is applicable across different media such as photographs and auditory stimuli.

A stable figure-ground relationship, with clear perception of the figure and ground, is more attractive, memorable and reduces perceptual confusion. An unstable relationship with ambiguous figure and ground can result in different interpretations of elements.

The optical illusion relies on unstable figure-ground relationship, causing the viewer to perceive both a man playing the saxophone and a woman’s face.

With the logo, figure-ground relationship changes as the eye perceives the window shade and the silhouette of a face.


Good Continuation

This is another one of Gestalt’s principles of perceptions. Aligned elements (such as in a line or curve) tend to be perceived as a single group and being more related than unaligned elements. When sections of a line or shape are hidden from view, good continuation leads the eye to continue along the visible segments. Elements can still be perceived as a group with minimal disruption of the line or shape.

Another optical illusion: Human perception assumes the two sticks continue in an established direction (i.e. forming an X and intersecting each other), due to the habit of applying the principle continuation on objects we view.



Highlighting is a technique used to bring attention to an area of text or image. It is recommended that no more than 10% of a design is to be highlighted, otherwise reducing the effectiveness of highlighting certain elements. Consider also how much disruption a highlighting technique can add to the overall design. Too much noise can compromise the legibility of the text or graphic. There are many methods of highlighting text, including the use of different font weights/typefaces and colour.

(Click to enlarge)

The use of highlighting in this infographic conveys the most important points to its viewers. Keywords are bolded in the text and a website link is coloured in blue. Graphical elements are visually highlighted with contrasting colours (#5 in particular uses bright colours against grey tones).



Universal Principles of Design, William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, Jill Butler.

Exercise Three: Alignment, Closure, Common Fate

January 21, 2011

Introduction: Brian Pierce

January 21, 2011

Hey everyone, I’m Brian and I’m in Graphic Design.

In 10 years, I hope to either be touring the world with my band SEIZE THE DAY or be a freelance designer/photographer designing album covers, packaging, posters and websites for bands. There’s always the possibility that I could do both too though!

As far as software goes, I have a lot of experience working with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CS2 and CS3. I’m still getting used to CS5 and I look forward to learning other programs like Flash and Dreamweaver. I also use GarageBand quite a bit and of course, Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.

Exercise Three: Strategies for Conveying Information

January 21, 2011


Your Project One group has been assigned two or three examples of strategies derived from the Gestalt Laws of Pattern Perception that can be employed to convey information. The strategy assignments are as follows:

  • Group Sight: Alignment, Closure, Common Fate
  • Group Touch: Figure Group Relationship, Good Continuation, Highlighting
  • Group Taste: Interference Effects, Law of Pragnanz
  • Group Hearing: Layering, Orientation Sensitivity, Proximity
  • Group Smell: Signal-to-Noise Ratio, Uniform Connectedness

In your Project One groups, create a blog post that summarizes your assigned strategies for the class. Click here to download the relevant pages from Universal Principles of Design. For each strategy, include at least one illustration that is not found in Universal Principles of Design. Be prepared to briefly present your post next week.

Exercise Three is due at 15:30 on Friday, January 28.

Visual Intelligence

January 21, 2011

Click here to download pages 173-184 from Visual Intelligence.

“I don’t want to claim only that you construct what you see. I want to claim that, at a minimum, you construct all that you hear, smell, taste and feel. In short, I want to claim that all your sensations and perceptions are your constructions.” (Hoffman 176)


January 21, 2011

Click here to download pages 1-22 from Perception.

“The world is filled with objects and events that combine to create a kaleidoscope of potential information. Though much of that information is irrelevant for people’s daily needs, some of it is absolutely essential. So that they can use this information effectively, human beings are equipped with specialized machinery for capturing this information and for translating it into a language that can be understood by the nervous system. In this translated form, the selected information is digested by the brain, culminating in perceptions of the world. These perceptions then guide people’s actions in the world around them.” (Sekular 1)

Exercise Evaluation

January 21, 2011

As discussed in class, Exercises will be evaluated as follows:

  • Each Exercise will be evaluated out of 3. Exceptional completion of an exercise will result in a mark of 3; adequate completion of an Exercise will result in a mark of 2; inadequate completion of an exercise will result in a mark of 1, and non-completion of an Exercise will result in a mark of 0.
  • Exercises will be weighted at the end of the term, to reflect their relative time commitment. For example, an Exercise that takes most students 4 hours will be assigned 4 times as much weight as an Exercise that takes most students 1 hour.
  • Exercises constitute 20% of your final grade.
  • Exercises may not be submitted late for any reason other than a documented illness.
  • Unlike Projects, you will not necessarily receive regular feedback on your Exercise submissions, but you may request feedback at any time.

One of the Five Senses; Hearing

January 21, 2011

Mhairi Robertson, Olivia Shin & Jacky Tse

Hearing is a special sense that works differently from how we process our other senses. While other senses require chemical reactions, hearing is a mechanical process. Hearing is still very mysterious because the way the brain interprets the sound signals is very complicated. There is still a lot to be learned about how we hear. However, we do know quite a lot about how the inside of our ears work.

The ear is comprised of three main parts; the inner ear, the middle ear and the outer ear. By working together these three areas protect each other and allow us to hear sound. The most outer part of the ear or the pinnae catches sound waves and helps draw them into our ear. We can determine where noise is coming from because of the way it bounces off the pinnae. As sound waves enter the outer ear they go through an area called the ear canal or tympanic membrane. Here, the sound waves are amplified making it easier for us to distinguish complicated sounds like speech.

The sound vibrates the ear drum which is a tiny piece of skin that flaps when sound waves hit it. Interestingly, when the ear drum senses a loud noise a muscle pulls the ear drum taut stopping the sound from damaging the inner ear. When the ear drum moves it vibrates the ossicles– the three tiny bones inside your ear. Ossicles are located in the middle ear and are commonly referred to as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. These bones amplify the sound one last time before they enter the inner ear.

Once inside the inner ear the sound waves travel through canals filled with water. It is harder for sound waves to move through water, hence why the sound is amplified by the other elements in the ear. This watery area is called the cochlea and looks like a spiralling shell. The sound waves cause the water to move which stimulates tiny hair cells in the cochlea. These tiny hairs send electrical messages through the auditory nerve to the brain. How the brain interprets these signals is still a mystery.


Introduction: Carrie Harden

January 21, 2011

Carrie-Anne Marie Harden (preferably just Carrie but whatever floats your boat)

Graphic Design is my choice of major, though I’m still uncertain I’ve learned exactly what Graphic Design is. Two years ago, I knew I wanted to go to school, and I knew I loved learning about and creating art. I didn’t want to limit myself to only the art side, so I decided to go into something with a broader horizon that I thought pretty much combined both the art and design programs.

In 10 years, I could not possibly tell you where I will be. I’ve always been the type to make impulsive decisions and go with the flow, so only time will tell where my feet take me. I don’t like to limit myself to much, because there are a lot of things I can picture myself doing, but I’d like to say that 10 years from now I will have landed a decent paying job (maybe with a magazine company, design firm, or even working freelance), and hopefully I will have saved oodles of cash to explore the world and move out of my parents house!

The only software programs I’ve really used are Photoshop and Lightroom. I’ve got the basics down for photoshop and have spent much more time with lightroom, but other than that.. my computer skills aren’t really all that advanced.


Introduction: Mhairi Robertson

January 21, 2011

Hi I’m Mhairi (MAH – REE)!

I’m in graphic design.

Not really sure where I’ll be in ten years, somewhere fun I hope. Ideally I’d like to be working in packaging or branding but I haven’t decided on anything yet! Freelance would be fun but I think I’d prefer to work in a firm where I can work with a team.

My adobe skills… Well, last semester I learned how to put a drop shadow effect on photoshop (very exciting).  I think that says a lot. I’m okay with indesign but I’m looking forward to learning more in this course!

Introduction: Sharon Leung

January 21, 2011

Name: Sharon Leung

Major: Graphic Design

To be honest I’m not really sure where I can see myself in 10 years. Probably working as a freelance designer for people with no taste, pulling all-nighters like I’m still in school and living off meals of kimchi and rice.

My interest in graphic design first began when I was yearbook editor in high school, and after two years of wrong, but necessary, choices, here I am. Somewhere before all of that though, I wanted to be all sorts of things like a fashion/costume designer, a pastry chef and a children’s book illustrator. (I still sort of secretly do.) I guess realistically I’m hoping for a more varied work experience from studying graphic design, instead of becoming a logo-making machine.

I’m quite comfortable with using technology, though most of my knowledge is self-taught. I have experience with design programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign. I think I’m a pretty quick learner when it comes to learning new programs.

Introduction: Judy (sohyun) Chun

January 21, 2011

Hello : )

My name is Judy and my major is graphic design. I’m not completely sure of what I want to do towards the future, but hopefully in ten years I will be employed either in a design firm or a company, and climb my way up towards being a art or creative director from there. I want to be able to do something that I will really enjoy, but my main goal is to make enough money and travel all around the world!

I would say my comfort level with technology is pretty good, I know the basics and I’m familiar with most of the adobe software programs.

Introduction: Andrew Walker

January 21, 2011

Top o’ th’ Mornin’ to Ye

I’m Andrew Michel Walker. All parts of my name consist of six letters and the second to last letter in each of them is “e.” Isn’t that exciting!? (Well, technically my middle name is Michael but I choose to spell it the French way because shut up.) Please call me Andrew, and not Andy or Drew or something. Though I don’t mind being called Your Excellency.


I’m in the Illustration program, and I’m liking it so far. I graduated from Etobicoke School of the Arts in 2009, and after my victory lap I promptly arrived here. I have an avid interest in movie music, and vintage video gaming. You may come to realize during our time together that I’m also a tremendous science geek. My graduating class voted me most likely to “become an eccentric self made millionaire and live in a mansion made of glass beakers and test-tubes.” I don’t think they were far off the mark.

In ten years I will be 30 years old. Firstly I hope to still be alive. I also hope by then that I will have already published at least one successful graphic novel telling my own original story, the first of many. I will live in a gorgeous seaside cottage and have romantic candlelit dinners with my own reflection.

I’m more comfortable with technology than most people. By which I mean I’m more comfortable with technology than I’m comfortable with most people.

So here’s to the future good times here in GDES 1B26 – 19!


One of the five senses : Smell

January 21, 2011

by Caroline, Alexandra, Phoebe, & Andrew

Olfaction is another word for sense of smell.

Specialized receptor cells of the olfactory epithelium detect and recognize smells.

Your nose is a huge cavity built to smell, moisten, and filter the air you breathe. When you breathe in, the tiny hairs, called cilia, act like a broom and filter everything trying to get into your nose; from dust particles to bugs.

The air passes through the nasal cavity and though a thick layer of mucous to the olfactory bulb. Each odour particle has a receptor that is recognized by a nerve cell. The cells then send signals to the brain via the olfactory nerve. The brain then interprets those molecules as the sweet flowers, or  pie.

Humans can detect over 10,000 different smells. The olfactory nerve picks up the scents from the air you breathe and translate them into nerve impulses or messages that are then sent to the olfactory bulb located in the front of the brain.

Actually, how and why we smell is still inadequately known.

Random Facts:

-Anosmia is a condition where someone can’t sense smells

-your sense of smell gets worse as you age

–dogs have 1 million smell cells/nostril which are 100x bigger than humans


One of the five senses : Sight

January 21, 2011

Nicholas Calvert, Judy (Sohyun) Chun, Sandra Frankel, Renars Dimza

How does our sense of sigh work?

Light from a source bounces off an object and enters through the eye through cornea (protective surface layer). The light then passes through the pupil controlled by the iris (muscle), into the lens. When light passes through the pupil, the size of the iris changes in order to allow a certain amount of light in.

The lens then focuses on the image, as it is squeezed by contracting muscles. The retina is filled with light sensitive cells called cones and rods; The light filters through layers of pigment in the outer layers of the cones and rods.  The rods are responsible for low light vision (black and white), and the cones are responsible for colour vision; unlike the rods, the cones require a brighter light in order to function. The rods are distributed throughout the retina, mostly along the edge of the field of vision, however there are none at the fovea and the blind spot. The cones are mostly near the fovea and far fewer are present in the retina.

The cones and rods are connected through cells in the retina to the nerve fibres in the optic nerve. When the cones and rods are stimulated by light, the nerves send off electric charges through the fibres in to the brain. The image is then projected in reverse upon the retina, and the brain interprets the image right-side up. This is done in the visual cortex. The brain does not receive a photographic image rather it constructs an approximation of what is being perceived.


Introduction: Hilda Hiu-Ying Lam

January 20, 2011

Name: Hilda (Hiu-Ying) Lam

Major: Graphic Design

Hi, my name is Hilda.I m from Hong Kong and I have been in Canada since grade 8. I was hoping to become an artist when I was little. And now, I think my dream kind of come true because I know what I am going to be in the future, which is being a professional graphic designer. I have been using Photoshop and Illustrator since grade 10. You can say that I know all the basic tools of these two programs, and I am excited and ready to learn some more “cool” techniques in this course!

Introduction: Alexandra Weaver

January 20, 2011

Hello everyone. My name is Alexandra Michiko Weaver and I’m in Graphic Design. I’m not sure where I see myself in 10 years, but I hope it’s somewhere good! I like making both 2-D and 3-D artwork. As far as working with technology goes, I’m okay with it. I know how to do most of the basic things using Photoshop, Windows Movie Maker, and Microsoft Office applications, but I have no clue how to use Illustrator. Have a good school year, everyone!

Introduction: Tse Hung Hei (Jacky)

January 20, 2011

Name: Tse Hung Hei (Jacky)

Major: Graphic Design

Hi, my name is Tse Hung Hei, you can call me Jacky. I came to Canada 4 years ago for high school, throughout my high school education, I focused my energies in order to become a fashion designer. However, my first year at Ryerson University led me to consider graphic design as a more suitable career path. So I transferred to OCAD for Graphic Design this year. In ten years, my ultimate goal is to become a art director of graphic design in my home town, Hong Kong. Feel free to add me on facebook : Jacky Tse

Introduction: Cindy Lubinic

January 20, 2011

Name: Cindy Lubinic (Cindy Lubnič) [pronouced: SIN-dee LOO-bee-neech]

Major: Graphic Design

Technology Comfort Level: Intermediate

I could not possibly tell you what I’m going to be doing in ten years. However I do hope to eventually retire  in a quiet, possibly remote place of the world. For example: Bhutan. I also would like to have a well established career in freelance graphic design(if that even exists), as soon as I figure out what exactly graphic design is. I also would like to teach design and hopefully inspire and innovate the generation of designers after me. Finally, I would really like to eventually have my own exhibition of my work sometime in the future. But, then again not everything is set in stone. For all I know, I could graduate and realize that all I wanna do with my life is play guitar smoke cigarettes and eat Kraft Dinner.

introduction: Kenny Jia

January 20, 2011

hey, my real name is Yizhen Jia, but since most people in ocad have difficulties pronouncing it, so I go by Kenny.

My major is illustration. I chose to major in illustration because graphic design is really boring, fine art drives me crazy and 3d… I almost failed form & structure. I want to be a full time art teacher in the future and freelance in illustration part time because i heard that illustrators don’t make any money. I think it’s better to have a stable job so I can support myself.

I’m pretty comfortable with most Adobe softwares, but I don’t have a clue when it comes to stuff like imovie or auto cad. I’m also a lab monitor in school. I’ll be in room 665 on Friday from 8am to 1pm. please come and visit me because I’m going to be really bored.

Add me on facebook: Yizhan Kenny Ji

introduction: Cornelia Li

January 20, 2011

Name: Shi Tong Li (Cornelia)

Major: illustration

In ten years I want to be a freelance illustrator or a book illustrator. I enjoy drawing pictures for texts, for I feel like images are more emotionally evoking. I also want to do my own comic with in the ten years, as well as trying a variaty of other kinds of illustration.

Beacause I have been a traditional artist, I am not very familier with how digital art works. I know the fundementals, but more than that, I’m lost.

Introduction: Caroline Van

January 20, 2011

Name: Caroline Van [Care~rol~line]

Major: Illustration

Technology Comfort Level: Low

There is no set 10 year plan, but right now, the idea is to become a freelance illustrator. I want to keep my work options open,and kinda try a little bit of everything. I don’t want to limit myself to one field. This plan will probably change soon since my interests are becoming more fashion based. If 10 years from now, I was the artistic director for Comme des Garcon; that would be amazing.

Introduction: Anonymous

January 19, 2011

Project One: Deconstruct an Interaction

January 19, 2011

Click here to download Project One: Deconstruct an Interaction.

Below is the list of common interactions between people and their environment that we brainstormed in class.

Pedalling a bicycle
Playing a piano
Painting a picture
Taking notes
Peeling fruit
Tying shoes
Text messaging
Sharpening a pencil
Talking on the phone
Dictating to a computer
Calling Rogers
Eating food
Watching televison
Operating an iPod
Smashing a chair
Driving on the freeway

This is not an exhaustive list. You’ll be spending four weeks on this Project: select an interaction that is compelling to your group.

Exercise Two: Perception and Cognition Research

January 19, 2011

In the first class, your Project One group developed a mental model for one of the senses, to the best of your knowledge. Expand your knowledge by researching the sense in question, and post the results of your research to the blog.

Make your post succinct. It should no more than three paragraphs, and should make use of images where appropriate. Specifically identify any misconceptions in the mental model developed in class and correct them. Informally cite any sources employed.

Only one post per group is necessary. Please include the name of all of your group members in the title of your post. Be prepared to briefly present your post next week.

Exercise Two is due at 15:30 on Friday, January 21.

Exercise One: Blog Introduction

January 19, 2011

Your first task is to perform a number of administrative tasks that will help our section of Introduction to Experience Design run smoothly.

1) Log in to the blog. I have given all of you access and authorship permission on our course blog. Go to the blog, and log in with your usual OCAD username and password. We’ll go over the blog interface together in class as necessary.

2) Make a post to the blog. Include the following.

  • Your full and (if different) your preferred name.
  • Your OCAD discipline.
  • A photograph of you, that clearly shows your face. This is so that your colleagues and I can identify you.
  • A brief description of where you see yourself in 10 years. You may want to be a small-town architect, the next Karim Rashid, an art director in New York City, a freelance illustrator, or a textile artisan — or perhaps you don’t see yourself as a designer at all. Be honest, be bold, and be concise. Your answer to this question will help me tailor this course to your aspirations.
  • A brief description of your general level of comfort with technology, ranging from “I don’t have a clue” to “I’m an expert at the use of all software and hardware.” Be specific: name the software and hardware that you know, and how well you know it. Your answer to this question will help me tailor this course to your skills.

3) Curate your post. Presentation is always important in design. Publish the post, and see what it looks like. If you’re not happy with the spacing, the image quality, or the graphic composition of your post, revise it. Please visually curate all blog posts (and any other material) you make in the future.

Please title your post “Introduction: [your preferred name].” For example, my post would be called “Introduction: Jesse Colin Jackson.” Please check the box beside the “2.0 – Introductions” category provided. Please consistently follow these conventions for titles and categories in the future.

Exercise One is due at 15:30 on Friday, January 21.

Universal Principles of Design

January 19, 2011

Click here to download pages 130-131 from Universal Principles of Design.

“Designers generally have very complete and accurate system models, but often have weak interaction models — i.e. they know much about how a system works, but little about how people will interact with the system. Conversely, users of a design tend to have sparse and inaccurate system models, but through use and experience commonly attain interaction models that are more complete and accurate than those of designers. Optimal design results only when designers have an accurate and complete system model, obtain an accurate and complete interaction model, and then design a system interface that reflects an efficient merging of both models.” (Lidwell et. al. 130)

The Design of Everyday Things

January 19, 2011

Click here to download pages 12-17 from The Design of Everday Things.

“Without a good model we operate by rote, blindly; we do operations as we were told to do them; we can’t full appreciate why, what effects to expect, or what to do if things go wrong. As long as things work properly, we can manage. When things go wrong, however, or when we come upon a novel situation, then we need a deeper understanding, a good model.” (Norman 13)

Two Mental Models of a Holga

January 19, 2011

Course Outline

August 30, 2010

Click here to download the Course Outline.