Recently you may have seen i have mentioned this term to a couple of our members while giving a critique of their work.
Now you may or may not be asking yourself what is negative space? Is it a bad thing?
To put it quite simply Negative space is the space around or between your main subject (focal point). Some times we generally refer to it as the background, which is for the most part correct. Negative space if used correctly can enhance the focal point or even create elements that create a kind of hidden imagery.
The term Negative space may bring up thoughts of it being a bad thing. This is because of the word "Negitive" which to some people means bad or drums up feeling of worthlessness. The word "Space" which to some means nothing and can drum up feeling of just emptiness. Some even go as far as connecting Negative space with wasted space and believe that the space must be crammed with stuff to use it more effectively.
Well i am here to tell you negative space is not a bad thing at all. In fact in art terms it is a very important part of the work. Be it digital or traditional. Learning how to use negative space is a very important thing in art. One might even say it is a must to learn to use it.
Negative space is not wasted space. IMO
there is no such thing as wasted space in art. You do not always have to fill the space with clutter to make it more effective. Negative space is relative to the subject matter and the feeling you are trying to portray in the image.
1: This is just a random Photo of a guy walking down the street with the two birds on his shoulders.
He and the birds are the main focal point, but the busy city in front of him become the negitive space. Thus creating a humorous image.
Now imagine the background was just white!! Kinda creates a whole different image or feeling huh! You would have no idea what the guy was up to at all. Is he walking are the birds attacking him?
Now imagine the City imagery being larger and the bird man being smaller. That would change the focal all together. You may glance at him and think neat but you would be more focused on the cars, all the other people, shop signs, or any of the other city elements.
2: Random image of Vases and bowls for sale
Hand blown glass objects that is the focal. There is nothing in the negative space, but a minor gradient coloring. Your attention is foced to the glass objects.
Now imagine if they had say a garden in the negative space, or the were sitting on a table. It would have a some what different feel and effect.
I hope by thinking about the above examples you get the idea of what Negative space is and the impact it has on your work. The real trick to using negative space is balancing the Negative space with the positive space (your focal point). Try to utilize the the space so your audience is not distracted or confused because they can not focus on the Focal point.
Now the other thing about the negative space is it can be used to create illusions or it can be used to create the image altogether
The negative space creates the image of a couple kissing!
Example 2 -- This is a classic!
Is it a vase or is it two people looking at each other?
The negatives space is used in a way to Create another image all together.
Well i hope that will give you some insight into what negative space is and when some one mentions it what they are talking about. I also hope it helps you realize that it is not a bad thing, but instead how to more effectively use the space.
I will leave this thread open feel free to comment or add to it. If your addition is worthy and not already mentioned in the main post i will add it in so this becomes kinda a field guide for our members.