In Terms Of Photography, What Is The Significance Of The Negative?

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What if a simple technique could alter your compositions?

Did you know that what you lot don’t include in your art matters equally much every bit what yous do? Have you wondered what’s stopping your fine art from popping the mode you wish it did? Then it’s time to learn nearly negative space in fine art!

My trouble as an artist has always been resisting the urge to comprehend the folio or canvass with field of study matter. The blank space was virtually painful to wait at and seemed to be yelling “Make full me!”

The consequence was often pages covered in decorated patterns, literally without an inch of space. I’ve since learned that intentionally leaving some emptiness results in a less crowded and better-looking result. And I’g here to share that cognition with you, then you lot tin can create balanced, middle-catching art.

What Is Positive And Negative Space?

What exercise positive and negative infinite mean in art? They are what create the tension in a piece. The interaction between these ii elements is what directs your eye where to go when you view a design or painting. What yous don’t include (negative space) is as important as what you lot exercise include (positive infinite).

Let’s expect closer at each definition.

Positive Infinite

This is essentially the action in your fine art, or the subject affair. It’s what you lot’re drawing or painting onto the bare infinite, or the shape created past the space.

In the slice beneath, the tree is the positive space.

Negative Space

This is the canvas or background that shows through or surrounds your subject matter, but it doesn’t have to be white or completely bare.

In the image above, the white areas surrounding the tree is the negative space. This is a elementary example, but nosotros’ll get into more complex interplays of negative space vs positive space later.

Why Use Negative Space?

There are a number of convincing reasons to start prioritizing negative space in your artwork.

They are:


Negative space draws your heart to the bailiwick of your fine art, giving it space to breathe. When you use it correctly, it gives a natural balance and sense of “rightness” to your composition.

Getting it right can be tricky at first, but becomes easier with exercise. Try focusing on the empty spaces effectually your subject adjacent time, and you’ll stop up with more balance in your work.

The photo beneath is a good (and not to mention, adorable) case of this:


Information technology’s the space around your points of focus that will make up one’s mind how they wait in your finished art piece. About people don’t appreciate compositions that are too full as they tin feel chaotic to expect at.

The brain grasps for something to focus on and instead gets dislocated because there’south as well much action and not enough space. Allowing your subject(due south) plenty of room to exhale lends them definition and allows the viewer to know what to focus on.

Help With Creating 3D Shapes

If you’ve been creating art for long, you are already familiar with the claiming of making realistic 3D shapes on a flat, 2nd surface.

Leaving negative space around the 3D objects you draw creates a more convincing background, making the objects pop more.

Image Past Ramon Bruin

And you tin even use the shapes of the negative space effectually an object to make more realistic 3D shapes.

Nosotros volition cover this shortly in the “Negative Space Drawing Exercises” section.


Our brains honey to take shortcuts (even at our own peril) and do things the simple way. Viewing art is no exception to this human trend.

When yous’re looking at a photograph or painting with the right utilise of negative space, it allows yous to appreciate the limerick without much mental effort.

Instead of trying to decide where to look, the viewer’s eye knows where to detect the indicate (or points) of focus and can spend more than time appreciating those.

How To Use Negative Space In Fine art

In that location are a number of ways to utilize negative space, regardless of the type of art you lot’re making. If you’re looking to improve balance in your work, employ negative infinite for:


Experiment with creating a drawing that is generally negative space. Instead of placing your main subject in the center, for example, effort placing information technology in ane of the corners and leaving well-nigh of the folio blank.

Again, the negative infinite doesn’t have to be white. This photograph is a expert instance of an arrangement that is mostly empty space (the water).

Overlapping Positive And Negative Space

A technique you can apply to create really eye-catching designs is cleverly overlapping positive and negative space, like this:

As y’all tin see, the background (negative space) and objects are interchangeable and overlap. The piece has a natural edge around it from all the blackness space used, making the piece come to life.

Experiment with using positive and negative space in varying ratios until you get a feel for balance. For digital art, you tin can experiment with different attribute ratios when you crop to find a adept balance.

This video gives great examples of using negative space in your compositions:

To Make 3D Shapes On 2D Surfaces

Practice drawing the negative spaces around an object instead of the object itself. If you lot’re drawing a human figure, for example, information technology’south easier to depict the blank spaces betwixt and effectually body parts than the actual parts. This is because we accept fewer preconceived notions almost what shapes blank spaces should exist.

Proko’s explains the concept well in this video:

Logo Design

Practice you have a signature image that represents your business concern? This image can be placed in white over a color background, or in color over a white background. Or you can use a cut-out to form that image as evidenced past the image below.

This is a familiar example of logo design that utilizes negative space in a clever fashion. The Facebook logo blends positive and negative infinite to make a cohesive image. The “F” is office of the background, making the subject of focus and negative space interchangeable.


Next time you lot’re framing a photo, adjust it with negative space in listen. Leave more than emptiness than you lot experience you lot “should,” equally it can be tempting to want to fill every blank space when that’s the habit you’re in.

You tin can fifty-fifty await through old photos and play around with dissimilar ratios to get familiar with using more negative space.

You lot’ll rapidly find that more infinite adds an entirely unlike experience to your photographs. In the photo below, the composition is much more pleasing to the eye when the bird has extra space around it:

Image From

Web Blueprint

You can utilize negative space to give your web designs room, defining them with emptiness. Give sentences, words, or logos margins or “padding.”

The case below is generally negative space with a well-placed border that places obvious focus on the text.

Even the text within the edge has extra breathing room, making the design feel make clean, simple, and straightforward.

Image via

Unproblematic is better in graphic blueprint considering your message will come through much clearer when there isn’t clutter surrounding it.

Resist the urge to fill up the page with field of study affair and viewers will have an easier time remembering your bulletin.

Although negative space is more about what you lot don’t do than what you practice, it takes time to master the concept.

Near artists are used to focusing on their subject, so switching to focusing more emptiness might feel strange to yous at first. But your compositions will benefit from practicing this.

Here’southward some assistance.

Negative Space Cartoon Exercises

Experimenting With Borders

This is a composition exercise you can do with traditional drawing methods or in digital design. To do information technology with digital artwork, you lot’ll but need to try out unlike cropping sizes and positions.

You lot tin can place your subject of focus in a corner, for instance, instead of the center.

Some other option is creating a edge full of empty space around your work, like this:

For traditional fine art, you lot can become used to thinking of dissimilar compositions with plenty of negative space by using borders.

  1. Depict something to use for this practise practice. It tin be a tree, animal, human figure, or all of the to a higher place. Just brand sure to leave plenty of space between objects.
  2. Now you’re going to make borders using cardboard or craft carte du jour, creating different sized “windows” you tin place over your drawing.
  3. Place your homemade border over your drawing and motion it around to become ideas for how to employ negative space. Yous’ll somewhen become some new ideas for limerick in art that y’all might never have seen before.

Draw Objects From Various Angles

This exercise will help you with making realistic 3D shapes on a 2D surface. Notice objects effectually your abode that you can draw from dissimilar angles, focusing on the way the negative space changes around them.

For the best results, pick an object that has holes in information technology, such equally a cup with a handle, or a chair. Look at the gaps inside of the object, seeing their shapes.

This video does a good job explaining how to practice this, using a tea kettle as the instance object:

Silhouette Drawing Exercise

Silhouette drawings tin involve leaving the subjects of the art white while filling in the rest of the page. Information technology’s a adept exercise to exercise placing more emphasis on the space surrounding the main focus objects rather than the objects themselves.

You can shade the page with pencil to greyness it out or make fun designs like this effectually the object(s):

Prototype Past Michele Guieu

Another choice for playing around with silhouettes to practice with negative space is effigy ground reversal. This involves taking a black and white slice of digital fine art and reversing the blackness and white tones.

Since the subject would typically be in black with a white background, this reversal volition make the negative infinite (and the shapes it forms) more than credible.

The image beneath, Rubin’due south vase, is a famous instance of exploring positive vs. negative space with tone reversal. Bonus points if you tin can besides make yours into a successful optical illusion!

Artists Who Use Negative Infinite Beautifully

Now we’re going to cover some brilliant examples of negative infinite art. Maybe some of these will requite you blueprint inspiration and a few ideas for your own work.

In this brilliant, archetype case of negative space, the sky is relatively empty, drawing the viewer’s middle to the stars. The mountains and trees are solid enough in comparison to effectively frame the town as positive space.

Moonlight Festival Past Ricardo Due south Raikaido

This piece was done as a Halloween brand campaign. The artist used a clever negative space approach, making the dark forest and moon course a skull.

I also enjoy how the dark-green flames appear to illuminate the empty blackness forest surrounding the focal point.

Image Past Tang Yau Hoong

Tang Yau Hoong is i of the modernistic masters when using negative space in his art. Hither, the negative space (sky) is being zipped away to reveal another sky, which is also forming buildings along a cityscape.

Depending on how you lot wait at it, the blueish sky can also exist seen as a type of negative infinite.

Image By Noma Bar

At beginning glance, this illustration by graphic designer Noma Bar but looks like Jules from Lurid Fiction, only look a trivial closer and yous’ll encounter Vincent Vega in front end of him. Information technology’south impressive that this image is and so clear fifty-fifty though it’s more often than not solid infinite.

Alright, so this i’s a petty creepy, but this Rembrandt piece is an undeniably great brandish of well-proportioned negative space.

The positive shapes (heads) on the left even seem to melt into the blackness negative area of the groundwork, framing the photo and cartoon in the heart.

Here’southward a familiar, famous case of a counterbalanced piece of fine art with enough of negative space.

The Persistence of Memory past Salvador Dali has obvious subjects of interest surrounded by emptiness. The brown of the ground and yellow and blue-hued sky frame the central points of focus beautifully.

Frank Frazetta is all-time known for paintings and comic book covers. In this piece of sci-fi art, the graphic symbol and his 4 Cyclopean buddies appear to be stranded out in space, surrounded by empty blackness.

Image By Jean Giraud

This illustration was washed by French artist Jean Giraud, with the pseudonym “Moebius,” and is made up of mostly negative space. The positive shapes in the piece brand a nice, balanced frame for the almost empty sky, giving the pic a spacious experience.

Image By ‘Remarin‘

In this piece, the white blank space in the background forms a positive shape on the superlative of the woman’s shape, successfully merging positive and negative space. When your mind must fill in what you don’t see, it makes viewing the fine art into a unique, memorable experience.

Sculpture By Bruno Catalano

This sculpture, “Missing Pieces” by Catalano, goes well with its environs, allowing the viewer to meet the far-off horizon where the human’s torso should be. Again, the mind has to fill in the missing pieces, which makes viewing it fun.

Prototype By Octavio Ocampo

This painting by Octavio Ocampo is a good example of negative and positive infinite coming together in an unexpected and appealing way. This artist is known for creating “puzzle portraits,” which are more often than not optical illusions with sky backgrounds and seemed to count on Gestalt principles for cohesion in his fine art.

Image By ‘Veroklotz‘

This collage piece is quite empty, but notwithstanding feels complete due to the way the artist used the blank pages. A couple of figures (1 with an upper-half made of negative space) traverse a striped mural while their friend is beamed up past aliens. That’s what I like to think is happening here, anyway.

Epitome Past Philipp Rietz

In this art past Philipp Rietz, the positive shapes (the male child and the gigantic bubble cloud he’s making) are actually fabricated of space, which would typically plant, well, the infinite behind fine art. Another smart and mind-bending switch of positive and negative shapes and space.

Image By Michael De Pippo

In this Disney poster, the graphic artist used the girl’s hair (positive infinite) to frame the acquit’s face. Her hair is the background for the bear, while the carry’s shape is the groundwork for her, resulting in a fun, creative blueprint

Negative Space In Film: 2001 – A Space Odyssey

I’m a huge film fan and one of the best movies of all time (visually speaking) is 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick was definitely knowledgeable about the fine art of negative space. Would this scene exist as impactful if it were cluttered or shot closer up? I think not. The scene is also completely silent, successfully transporting the viewer into vast emptiness.

Prototype By Daehyun Kim (Moonassi)

I struggle to effigy out the meaning backside Moonassi’southward piece of work, just he remains a favorite anyway. In the piece above, the figures rest on and seem to interact with white space, while their bodies appear to be made of blackness space. Which is positive and which is negative? Information technology’s hard to tell and creates a pleasant mind-angle consequence.

Image By ‘Dandingeroz‘

The artist’s depiction of the heaven is disarming considering of the empty space he left effectually the character. While the piece would still be nice without that, information technology’southward more than impactful this manner.

Epitome By Phoebe Morris

In this book encompass, the negative space showing through the shape of the wolf reveals a boy’s profile, alluding to the subject and title of the book. The shape left by this carved out negative infinite makes the perfect spot to put text, drawing the eye in.

Image Past Kerry Watson

In this photo, information technology’s hard to tell where the water ends and the heaven begins, making the background one big, blank white surface area. Though minimal, this work of art has a clear feeling of solitude to it, fabricated possible past all the space.

Paradigm From

In this unique tattoo concept, negative space is used to form a positive image of a tree, equally the balance of the trees fade into the negative infinite of the person’s skin. Pretty clever, if y’all ask me!

Ready To Work With Negative Space?

Did you enjoy this tutorial on negative space in fine art? Playing around with this simple principle can really take your work to new heights. In fact, I had to pause writing this to pigment an idea I got for using negative space in a new way.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and share the commodity if you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading.


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