Positive/Negative Space

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. 'In English,' he said, 'a double-negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double-negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double-positive can form a negative.' A voice from the back of the room piped up, 'Yeah, right.'" Anonymous.


Positve = Figure

Negative = Ground

All of our designs have been bounded by a square or rectangular frame. We think of the object depicted in the frame as the positive space or the figure. By convention, our figures have been black on a white ground.

This breaks the rule....Why? Do you see a punched out black for as positive or a white sphere?





What about this? Your brain seeks to complete the contour and enclose the shape.


Develop 3 related modules.... 1 that shows a form that is predominately positive and takes up at leat 80% of the frame with it's value, black or white... 1 that is a 50-50% distribution of blacks and white and where it is hard to distinguish what is positive and what is negative.... and one where the negative space accounts for 80% of the space of the design. Lay out all three on one sheet of paper.

Next take each module and lay it out in a 25 or 36 unit grid.



What about this form... what so you see?

Try Taking a cropped letter form to experiment with......






The letter "R" Arial Black, 400 pt

You may vary the module through reflection or rotation, if you wish.... Create three convincing designs that play with the perception of figure and ground and that vary the distribution or relative "weight" of black and white





Back to Two Dimensinal Design Syllabus

Back to Syllabi

Contact me



Letter "R"