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Eye Follows Dominant Line


Explanations > Perception > Visual Perception > Eye Follows Dominant Line

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?



When the eye is following a line and comes across a choice of lines to follow, such as when lines intersect, it has to make a rapid choice as to which of the possible lines to continue following. To do this, it needs to decide which line is the dominant, or most important line.

Factors that can make a line more dominant include:

  • Going in a straight line out from the previous line segment.
  • Looking the same as the previous line, with the same thickness, hue and texture.
  • Being larger than other lines.
  • Being a brighter or more contrastive hue than other lines.
  • Following a previously-established pattern, such as repeating an angle that has been turned.
  • Fitting into a familiar shape that may already be guessed.


When looking at a set of terraced buildings, the eye can choose to follow the outline of a single building or follow the outline of the entire block. Which decision is made will be influence by such factors as how individual buildings are delineated, for example with a drainpipe running down between buildings or a depth step in brickwork.

A graphic designer uses a wider, darker line to outline the main product being promoted. This grabs the eye more quickly and holds it within the constraining boundary.


In order to trace out a shape or otherwise follow a line to see where it goes, the eye sometimes comes across a choice, where a number of lines going in different directions are offered. The eye (actually the brain, of course) must choose which way to go, so it must look for signs that indicate the most important route. In doing so it uses rules such as pattern-matching, visibility and continuity.

Dominance in a whole line, such as a key boundary acts not only to attract the eye in the first place, but also as a container that holds the eye within it. Lines are not only followed, they tend not to be crossed, making them useful barriers, especially when they have relative dominance.

So what?

In designing images, graphics and so on, offer strong lines to guide the eye in key areas and weaker lines in other areas.

See also

Eye Follows Line, The Eye Follows Similar Line, Intersections Add Effort


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