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Dark Repels Eye

 

Explanations > Perception > Visual Perception > Dark Repels Eye

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

 

Description

When we look at a scene or an image, our eyes tend to move away from dark objects or even darker areas of our vision, and (in consequence) towards lighter objects.

Example

In the image below, the eye will usually enter at the top left, then flow to the bottom right, being held in by the dark sides and diverting around the dark blob in the middle.

Discussion

In seeing and interpretation of what we see, darkness appears more towards one end of the spectrum not only of black to white, but also of how dark or light other hues appear.

Psychologically, darkness is reminiscent of the night, where dangers may lurk. Even in daytime, evolution has programmed us to be constantly on the lookout for threats. At night, our eyes can see only very little and consequently threats may not be seen until they are right upon us. This makes darkness inherently more dangerous.

In our seeking of thrills we can also find darkness rather exciting. Darkness can create mood, mystery and interest as we wonder what is in it. Dark can make us look more closely when there are shapes in the shadows, perhaps in some ways checking for threats but also out of interest as to what may be found there.

When the dark item is at the edge of an image, the effect is to 'bounce' our eyes back into the image. This is how a vignette, a deliberate darkening around the edge of an image, works.

So what?

Use darkness to contain, to keep eyes where you want them to be. Use it to add mood, mystery and magic. Use it to create contrast that tells a story and leads the eye around the image.

See also

Attention principle, Easy Principle, Fear

 

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