Nov 17, 2012

The beauty of negative space in arts and design

What is negative space? Essentially it means something that is not there. It is often used in graphic designs, and in logos design in particular. Recently I came across a blog called Bored Panda (by the way, an interesting "designed" name) featuring 30 Clever Examples of Negative Space Logos. It contains some interesting logos worth checking up. Yet, the most talked about "re-designed" logo is the Steve Job Apple logo by Hong Kong design student Jonathan Mak Long (see below). Mak, second year design student doing the Job-Apple for fun, was landed with a logo design job of Coke through Coke's advertising agency Ogilvy China (full story).

Yet, the beauty of negative space doesn't lie in the above.

Negative space is the clue to learn the creative activity of drawing, and to learn it fast! We all know how to draw, kids know how to draw and love to draw. But as adults, most of us stop the creative, and enjoyable, activity of drawing. "I can't draw!", meaning, "What I draw doesn't look like what I see out there!". To make matter worse, in today's art-schools, the skill of drawing is NOT always compulsory for an art student! Fair enough, an art student is supposed to be creative, art for art's sake, and drawing, for the most part, is technical in nature. And the professors are right, which leads us to an unavoidable conclusion: artistic talent is not essential to making good drawing, or better yet: Everyone can learn how to draw!

The secret of all secrets in drawing is Draw Negative space. Simply put, to draw an object, any object, for example, a cup sitting right next to you, you have to draw the negative space, instead of the object itself. Now take a piece of paper, any paper, like an ordinary A4 paper from your copier tray. Then take a pencil (any pencil, not 2B, not charcoal, just an ordinary HB pencil). To draw the cup, forget it is a cup, forget it means anything to you, just track the outline of the cup as if you are drawing the empty space. Don't look at the cup, look at the empty space instead. Draw the empty space as if it is a solid object. Turn the corner as you trace the outline, and go on until our line meets itself (and Don't look at the cup!). After you have finished it, look at the final picture. You have drawn the negative space of the cup, and you have drawn a cup having the shape of the real cup.  And you can fill in the rest of the drawing. Why not try it now?

Job-Apple Logo

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