All You Need to Know About Negative Space Design

All You Need to Know About Negative Space Design

You see a frame and admire that which it contains, because of that which there isn’t.

Confusing. Isn’t it?

Let us simplify this for you. Question yourself, have you ever had an experience wherein the deprivation of something intensified its importance? For an idea, visualize how the absence of colors emphasizes their richness and importance.

It resembles the phenomenon of Yin & Yang. For good to occur, there needs to be the existence of bad. There needs to be a balance between the two opposites. Perhaps, with each opposite comprising a small element of the other.

Read on to understand the concept of negative space in further detail. And see for yourself what a moving effect negative space solely can have upon the formulation of physical artworks and digital of all sorts.

What is Negative Space?

The term Negative Space refers to the void present around and between the subject of concern. You see, it is the unseen and unappreciated space that plays the background role. The word Negative reflects its unnoticed presence, and space is its form that is air or blankness.

A proper definition of Negative Space would be;

Negative space also referred to as emptiness and blankness, is the space around and between things.

Usually, the term gets used in arts whereby blank space surrounds the subject of the image. Artists make the negative space prominent than the subject. They do it by inserting interesting shapes in it.  Negative space must come in contact with the subject’s edges to get noticed.

Perhaps, one of the most famous negative space examples of all time is Rubin’s Vase. As you can see above, Rubin left the vase blank while creating two faces on each side. Hence, shifting the attention to the negative space. The artist has cleverly turned the subject into a silhouette and demonstrated the importance of negative space.

This silhouette of the subject also gets called positive space. Learn more about it below!

Difference between Negative and Positive Space

Negative space refers to the background area. On the contrary, positive space refers to the area of focus or the actual object. For example, the trees in a landscape painting represent the positive space.

Source: The Virtual Instructor

Alternatively, we can say, positive space comprises the subject while negative space is the area surrounding that subject.

Note that negative space and positive space have quite evident differences in between them. Even if you had no idea about the technical definitions of both these elements, you could identify these spaces at a glance.

Applications of Negative Space

Negative space gets applied in a variety of fields. These include art, photography, website & app development, graphic designing, and much more. Let’s have a closer look at how negative space gets used in these specific fields.

  • Art
  • As discussed above, negative space in art enables artists to express much without shifting the attention from the subject. At times, the scenario is the opposite, where the artist draws attention to the objects forming in the negative space.
  • Photography
  • In photos, the function of negative space is to fill the surroundings and give the subject a boost. Unlike other fields, photography utilizes negative space as it’s supposed to be.
  • Website & App Development
  • Negative space in web design and app development allows creators to increase usability. The white space allows them to make the interface user-friendly.
  • Graphic Designing
  • Up till now, you must have an idea of what negative space in graphic design. The negative space graphics enhance visual aesthetics and symbolism. Designers use it to produce logos, posters, leaflets, and much more.

Why use Negative Space Designs?

The concept of negative space is present in all aspects of life. When the human eye is busy looking at the subject, we often neglect the other unseen factors that play an equally important role. Joined to each other’s edges, the negative space is essential to the subject’s existence.

If you dive deeper into realism, you may find negative space in the form of the caretaker, who is present side by side with the patient. The caretaker is experiencing the same situation as the patient and even contributing to his well-being. However, the attention of the world remains focused on the patient.

Well, let’s get back to Negative Space Designs. Contextually, there are several reasons why you might want to use Negative Space Designs.

  • It breaks the content on the web page and allows visitors the time to absorb.
  • It allows the creators of the design to exhibit the message more clearly.
  • Using it, you don’t have to change the font style and size. You can make the message easy to grip without any changes.
  • It helps direct the audience about the flow of content.
  • It allows one to make optical illusions and CTA statements.

Types of Negative Space Designs

As mentioned earlier, negative space is just as essential to an image as a positive space, given that you wish to make it appear striking and attention-grabbing. For that very reason, it often comes into use for creating designs, especially virtual ones.

  • Framed Images

Source: The Art of Negative Space –

At times, you can use bolder colors or the bigger picture to frame a central, more detailed scenario. In this way, your design conveys a whole story instead of plainly stating your aim of design. For example, in this frame, the designer centered a man writing at the heart of the nib. And it gave an impression as if the shadows create a whole pen. Thus, making the design highly meaningful, impactful, and memorable.

  • Literal Spacing

Literal spacing refers to the technique of using blank space, i.e., white-colored gaps between elements of an image to create a contrast.

Source: One Design –

Consider the image above. You see a wide gap that makes the digit one appeared in two halves. Such a design intrigues the viewer to further examine it because the viewer instinctively knows something is missing (in this case, the letter N) and searches for it. Hence, the design is successful in grabbing and retaining attention.

Note that the impact of this design is not only limited to motivating the viewer to search, but it also leads the viewer to an answer. Thus, satisfying their search or craving. For example, in this design, if you look deeper into it, you’ll see that the letter N is right there. The white spacing makes up the N.

It took you by surprise. Didn’t it? Well, that’s the whole purpose!

  • Use Your Product

Another great strategy is to enclose negative space within your product. For an idea, have a look at this simplistic yet comprehensive design:

Source: Logos

It encloses white space within the bold yellow boundaries of the pen as well as the complementing typography. Thus, making the pen shape prominent, assisting the branding procedures of companies.

Along the same lines, there are several other techniques, including using shapes, culture, layers, characters, reflections, and whatnot. The possibilities are endless. So, understand the concept of positive and negative space, merge it with your objective, sprinkle a little creativity, and there you go! You’ll successfully craft a design by effectively using negative space.

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