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2. Seeing: Hacks 13–33 > 22. Depth Matters

Depth Matters

Our perception of a 3D world draws on multiple depth cues as diverse as atmospheric haze and preconceptions of object size. We use all together in vision and individually in visual design and real life.

Our ability to see depth is an amazing feature of our vision. Not only does depth make what we see more interesting, it also plays a crucial, functional role. We use it to navigate our 3D world and can employ it in the practice of visual communication design to help organize what we see through depth’s ability to clarify through separation 1 .

Psychologists call a visual trigger that gives us a sense of depth a depth cue. Vision science suggests that our sense of depth originates from at least 19 identifiable cues in our environment. We rarely see depth cues individually, since they mostly appear and operate in concert to provide depth information, but we can loosely organize them together into several related groups:


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