Does Negative Space Have a Shape? | "Learn to Draw" Lesson
from the Learn to Draw Index

Let's take a look at our optical illusion vase again. This time we will be look at what is not there - the "negative space."

Artists refer to the two basic parts of a finished work of art as the positive space and negative space. A positive space is a space that is occupied by the thing you are drawing. A negative space is the space around the thing you are drawing. Sometimes the negative space is called the background. We all know that the things we see have shape. A ball is round. A chess board is a square. Have you ever looked at the spaces around the ball or the chess board? They have shapes too.

Your ability to draw will be greatly enhanced once you begin to see positive and negative space. This skill may prove to be a challange in the beginning, though after some practice it will be automatic.

The optical illusion vase from the first drawing lesson will help to illustrate this point. In the first example the vase occupies the positive space while the faces occupy the negative space.


The second example shows the faces occupying the positive space while the vase occupies the negative space.


Does a negative space have a shape? Yes is does!

Try drawing the negative spaces in and around something you have in your house. Always remember, you aren't drawing it - just the stuff it's not.

Let's try another lesson: Lesson 8: Pure Contour Drawing

For Teachers
This series of exercises was created to help the young artist discover and develop the special abilities of the right brain. The side of the brain that is 'right for drawing.'

Lessons in this "Learn to Draw" series are based on ideas from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.






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