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The Eye Follows Similar Line

 

Explanations > Perception > Visual Perception > The Eye Follows Similar Line

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When the eye is following a line and has to choose a direction at an intersection with another line, all else being equal it will tend to follow the continuing line that is most like the original line. However, if there is another path whereby the alternative choice has greater similarity in form to the original line then the viewer may well pick this route to follow.

Example

An advertiser uses a puzzle image with the shape of the advertised product 'hidden' in the image but outlined in a thicker line such that most people will first be curious about what is going on and then see the object as they put in a little extra visual effort.

An artist takes everyday objects and changes the weight and hue of outlines in order to break up the natural outline. Additional criss-cross lines with related weighting serve to distract and deflect the eye, leading to an odd and stimulating confusion.

Discussion

When the eye meets a junction with another line, it has to choose which line to follow. While 'straight on' is a natural choice, there may more reason to use different rules in deciding which direction to move next.

Differences in line to follow can include variation in thickness, hue, brokenness, etc. This works because, given a choice, we tend to prefer a future that is much like the past. Even if there is a logical alternative, such as a continuing straight line, the eye may well prefer the similarity option.

A common similarity factor occurs when tracing the visual outline of an object, where we seek to have similar shading and texture on a given side of a line. When this changes significantly, a camouflage effect occurs and we find it difficult to see the complete object.

So what?

 

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