Element of Design - Space

girl drawing

Do you know what artists are talking about when they use the terms, positive and negative space?

Every photo uses up space, which artists and photographers refer to as positive and negative space. Positive space is the space that the object uses. Negative Space is the space that surrounds the object.

When e draw, we focus on the object. It is our central focus because it is what we want our audience to notice. Therefore, I don't think I need to write anything about how to use this space. The space that is easier to forget about, is the negative space. We do not want our audience to critique or evaluate this space. After all, it is only the space surrounding the object. Right?

Although this space may seem unimportant, we must not forget about it. Using it has some great advantages. Our eyes need this space because they are the "rest areas".

If you think about it, our eyes travel all over a drawing within seconds. A drawing that contains a good balance of both spaces will be appealing because right away it is easy to focus on the subject. However, if there is not enough negative space, there will be too much to take in all at once. It will look busy and unappealing, even though the drawing is well done. It is important to maintain a proper balance. This does not mean that there has to be exactly the same amount of detailed and open areas. Use your own judgment. Just remember not to fill up the entire page with detail, or draw a photo in which the subject is too far away. Let's take the image to the left as an example. What I like about this drawing, is that it contains a lot of negative space. It is so simple, and yet I find it is appealing. The eyes stand out because there are hardly any other details drawing your attention away from them.

Sometimes the simplest drawings are the most appealing simply because there is a great balance between positive and negative space.

What is there to be learned from this? Keep it simple. Capture the important details and leave out all the distracting ones. When you do, there is a much greater chance that your drawing will grab attention!