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Positive and Negative Spaces

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Positive and Negative Spaces

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  1. NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE Brenda Hoddinott B-01 BEGINNER: LEARN TO SEE Your ability to draw is greatly enhanced when you know how identify positive and negative spaces, visually measure distances, and apply the resulting information to your drawings. This article illustrates and demonstrates the process of breaking down subjects into positive and negative spaces, and sketching their shapes within a drawing space. Information is divided into the following four parts: Seeing Lines between Spaces Containing Spaces in a Drawing Space From Seeing Spaces to Sketching Shapes Examining the Final Stages of a Drawing Once you understand the process, seeing spaces, lines, and shapes eventually becomes totally automatic, and you can draw accurately without consciously focusing on the various stages. This project is recommended for artists and aspiring artists of all ages, as well as home schooling, academic and recreational fine art educators. 10 PAGES – 36 ILLUSTRATIONS Published by Hoddinott Fine Art Publishers, Halifax, NS, Canada, 2005
  2. 2 INTRODUCTION Before you can draw the lines that outline a drawing subject, you need to know where to look. Contour lines are formed when the shared edges of spaces, and/or objects (or parts of objects) meet. Contour lines can outline a complete object, as well as its individual parts. A contour drawing is a drawing comprised of lines that follow the contours of the edges of various components of a subject and define the outlines of its shapes. Shapes are the outward contours or outlines of objects. Basic shapes include circles, ovals, squares, or rectangles Learning how to see the shapes of positive and negative spaces allows you to find and subsequently draw an outline of any drawing subject. Positive space is the space in a drawing that is occupied by an object and/or its various parts. Negative space refers to the background around and/or behind an object or another space. The edges of either the positive or negative space can help you identify the locations of lines. By referring to the sizes and shapes of both the positive and negative spaces, you can accurately render proportions. Proportion refers to the relationship in size of one component of a drawing to another or others. ILLUSTRATION 01-O1 ILLUSTRATION 01-O2 Compare this photo of a duck-shaped candle to the contour drawing beside it. Examine the various shapes created by the contour lines. Note that the duck’s head is very small in proportion to the size of the body. Yet, the height of the head (A) is equal to the height of the body (B). ILLUSTRATION 01-O3 SEEING LINES BETWEEN SPACES The discussion and illustrations in this section focus on using both positive and negative spaces to render a contour drawing of this cartoon boy. With lots of practice, your drawing skills improve, and the process of seeing spaces and lines becomes automatic! Then, you can draw accurately without consciously focusing on the various stages. Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  3. 3 Positive and negative spaces assume distinctive shapes, and fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Think of the shape of the boy’s head (positive space) in Illustration 01-04 as a piece of a puzzle. Use you imagination to visually lift up the shape and place it into the empty (white) space in the center of the negative space in Illustration 01-05 (like putting a missing piece into a jigsaw puzzle). The contour lines are found where the two spaces meet (Illustration 01-06). In other words, the outline of the boy's head is in between the shapes of the positive and negative spaces. ILLUSTRATION 01-O4 ILLUSTRATION 01-O5 ILLUSTRATION 01-O6 By referring to the shapes and sizes of the positive and negative spaces within the outline of the head, the boy’s facial features can also be rendered proportionately correct. Consider the empty space (the head) around the features to be negative space (Illustration 01-07) and the features themselves to be positive space (Illustration 01-08). Compare the sizes and shapes of the spaces to one another. For example, the length of the negative space from the eyebrows to the top of the head is the same as the negative space from the eyebrows to the bottom of the chin. Therefore, you can tell that the eyebrows (positive spaces) need to be drawn halfway between the top and bottom of the head. If you view the width of an eye as a measurement unit, the face appears to be five eyes wide. In other words, extra eyes can fit into the negative spaces on either side of and between the eyes. Also the nose can fit into the space between the eyes; hence it is the same width as an eye. In Illustration 01-09 the lines between the positive and negative spaces outline the eyebrows, nose, eyes, and freckles. Note how I then added more details to the eyes. ILLUSTRATION 01-O7 ILLUSTRATION 01-O8 ILLUSTRATION 01-09 Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  4. 4 CONTAINING SPACES IN A DRAWING SPACE A drawing space (also called the drawing surface or a drawing format), refers to the area in which you render a drawing within a specific perimeter. It can be the shape of your sketchbook page, your paper, or outlined by any shape you choose, such as a rectangle or square. In Illustration 01-10, the shape of a fish is the positive space and the space that surrounds the fish is negative space (Illustration 01-11). By examining the contour drawing (Illustration 01-12), you can visualize both these shapes inside the perimeter of a square drawing space. Note that no section of the fish is touching the edges of the drawing space and therefore it seems to be floating (or swimming). ILLUSTRATION 01-10 ILLUSTRATION 01-11 ILLUSTRATION 01-12 A flower (positive space) is drawn within a rectangular drawing space (Illustration 01-13). The negative space (also inside the perimeter of the rectangle) surrounds the flower and is on either side of the visible section of its stem (Illustration 01-14). Observe that the stem of the flower seems to run off the edge of the rectangle along the bottom side. Hence, the flower seems grounded within the space as opposed to floating. ILLUSTRATION 01-13 ILLUSTRATION 01-14 Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  5. 5 FROM SEEING SPACES TO SKETCHING SHAPES In this section, I first review the process of seeing the overall shape of an object by examining positive and negative spaces I then show you how to actually sketch the individual parts of an object proportionately correct by seeing and measuring spaces and shapes. I demonstrate this process with a photo of a swan; however, keep in mind that this process can be applied to anything you want to draw You can see the overall shape of the swan (and its parts) as a contour drawing in two steps: 1. Study the photo until you can identify the subject (positive space). Everything else in the photo is then considered negative space. 2. Examine the shapes and sizes of the positive and negative spaces, and how they fit together, to identify the locations of the contour lines. As your visual skills improve, these two steps become so totally automatic that you don’t even know they’re happening! ILLUSTRATION 01-15 Seeing spaces and lines in a cartoon drawing is relatively simple; however, real life subjects can seem considerably more intimidating. Unfortunately, a real live swan could not be included with this lesson, so I settled for this photo of one. Illustrations 01-16 and 01-17 demonstrate how I visually separate a photo into positive space (the swan) and negative space (the background) ILLUSTRATION 01-16 ILLUSTRATION 01-17 ILLUSTRATION 01-18 Illustration 01-18 shows a contour drawing of the overall shape of the swan Now that I can tell which sections of the photo are swan and which are background, I can begin sketching the various shapes. Most parts of objects can be broken down into familiar shapes such as rectangles, triangles, squares, or circles. However, the actual shapes of objects rarely conform exactly to the classic definitions of these shapes. Hence, even though I use such words as rectangular, circular, or triangular in the following section, keep in mind that I often take artistic license with my descriptions of various shapes. Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  6. 6 In addition to separating a subject from the background, lines can also separate various parts of the subject from one another. In short, the basic outline of the swan is rendered by sketching each of the individual shapes of the four major parts of the swan, the body, neck, head, and bill. In this section, illustrations take you through the process of putting the four parts together to create a sketch of the swan. ILLUSTRATION 01-19 ILLUSTRATION 01-20 The first shape I see in the photo is the egg-shape of the swan’s body. I consider the egg-shape to be the positive space, and for now everything else in the photo is regarded as negative space. Spaces offer several clues as to the locations of lines. As I examine the negative space in relation to the positive space and the drawing space, I note the following: The height of the negative space above the egg-shape (AA) is twice the width of the negative space to its left (A). The width of the negative space to the left of the egg-shape (A) is slightly wider than the negative space on the right (B). The width of the negative space to the right (B) is equal to the height of the negative space below the egg-shape (B). ILLUSTRATION 01-21 ILLUSTRATION 01-22 With all this information firmly planted in my mind, I now know where to sketch the outline of the swan’s body within my drawing space (Illustration 01- 22). Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  7. 7 ILLUSTRATION 01-23 My goal in showing you illustrations of spaces is simply to offer you insights into my thought processes as I draw. Naturally, when I look at an actual subject, I simply visualize the negative space rather than make a bunch of drawings of spaces. I refer to the photo again to figure out where to draw the outline of the swan’s neck. The neck is basically rectangular in shape, and for the purpose of this discussion is now considered the positive space. In other words, to focus completely on the neck, I now visualize all other parts of the photo as negative space. ILLUSTRATION 01-24 In Illustration 01-24 the negative space around the body is black and the body itself (now considered negative space) is gray. Consider the following as you examine the next two illustrations: 1. The upper section of the neck (1) extends upward into the negative space above the body. 2. The center section of the neck (2) gradually becomes wider closer to the bottom. 3. A tiny section of negative space (4) is to the left of the center section of the neck, and a much larger section of negative space (the body) is to the right (5). ILLUSTRATION 01-25 4. The very bottom section of the neck (3) extends into the negative space below the body. 5. The negative space to the right of the center section of the neck (5) is approximately two thirds the total width of the body. Illustration 01-25 shows the sketch with the neck added. Compare all three illustrations to get a better understanding of how the various spaces helped create an accurate sketch. Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  8. 8 As I examine the swan’s head. I see a circular shape (Illustration 01-26). By paying attention to the negative spaces (Illustration 01-27), I realize that the circular shape is the same height as the upper section of the neck (1) and the same width as the lower section (2). Also, more of the shape of the head is toward the left than the right. Now that I know where to place the head within the drawing space, and the size it needs to be, I add it to my sketch (Illustration 01-28). ILLUSTRATION 01-26 ILLUSTRATION 01-27 ILLUSTRATION 01-28 ILLUSTRATION 01-29 The bill is a rather small section of the swan but, nonetheless important. The ILLUSTRATION 01-30 overall shape of the bill sort of reminds me of a diamond shape (Illustration 01-30) When I visually separate the diamond shape into two triangles, the small one is the section attached to the swan’s head, and the big triangle is the section that sticks out from the face. ILLUSTRATION 01-31 ILLUSTRATION 01-32 I imagine the diamond shape as the positive space (Illustration 01- 31), and sketch it within my drawing space (Illustration 01- 32). Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  9. 9 EXAMINING THE FINAL STAGES OF A DRAWING With everything sketched correctly, the real fun of drawing begins. The basic process of turning my sketch into a drawing is as follows: 1. I gently pat the entire sketch with a kneaded eraser to lighten my sketch lines until I can barely see them (Illustration 01-33). 2. While constantly referring to the photo (Illustration 01-34), I use a freshly sharpened pencil to transform the swan’s basic shapes into a contour drawing (Illustration 01-35). A contour drawing is a drawing comprised of lines that follow the contours of the edges of various components of a subject and define the outlines of its forms. 3. I then outline the intricate details of the feathers, wings, face, and tail, as well as the reflection in the water. ILLUSTRATION 01-33 ILLUSTRATION 01-34 ILLUSTRATION 01-35 ILLUSTRATION 01-36 4. I use various pencils and drawing techniques to add shading to the swan, the water, and the reflection in the water. Shading refers to the process of adding values to a drawing so as to create the illusion of form and/or three-dimensional space. Examine the various forms created with shading on the completed drawing of the swan. (Illustration 01-36) Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
  10. 10 BRENDA HODDINOTT - BIOGRAPHY As a self-educated teacher, visual artist, portraitist, forensic artist, and illustrator, Brenda Hoddinott utilizes diverse art media including graphite, technical pen, colored pencil, chalk pastel, charcoal, conté crayon, and oil paints. My philosophy on teaching art is to focus primarily on the enjoyment aspects while gently introducing the technical and academic. Hence, in creating a passion for the subject matter, the quest for knowledge also becomes enjoyable. >Brenda Hoddinott< Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Brenda grew up in the small town of Corner Brook. She developed strong technical competencies with a personal commitment to self directed learning, and the aid of assorted “Learn to Draw” books. During Brenda’s twenty-five year career as a self-educated civilian forensic artist, numerous criminal investigation departments have employed Brenda’s skills, including Royal Canadian Mounted Police and municipal police departments. In 1992, Brenda was honored with a commendation from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and in 1994, she was awarded a Certificate of Membership from “Forensic Artists International”. Her home-based art career included graphic design, and teaching recreational drawing and painting classes. As supervisor of her community’s recreational art department, Brenda hired and trained teachers, and designed curriculum for several children’s art programs. In 1998, Brenda chose to end her eighteen-year career as an art educator in order to devote more time to writing, drawing, painting, and developing her websites. Drawspace http://www.drawspace.com incorporates her unique style and innovative approach to curriculum development. This site offers downloadable and printable drawing classes for students of all abilities from the age of eight through adult. Students of all ages, levels and abilities have praised the simple step-by-step instructional approach. This site is respected as a resource for fine art educators, home schooling programs, and educational facilities throughout the world. LEARN-TO-DRAW BOOKS BY BRENDA HODDINOTT Drawing for Dummies (2003): Wiley Publishing, Inc., New, York, NY, this 336 page book is available on various websites and in major bookstores internationally. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing People (2004): Winner of the Alpha-Penguin Book of the Year Award 2004, Alpha - Pearson Education – Macmillan, Indianapolis, IN, this 360 page book is available on various websites and in major bookstores internationally. Copyright to all articles, images, text, projects, lessons and exercises within this drawing class belong to Brenda Hoddinott and may not be reproduced or used for any commercial purposes whatsoever without the written permission of Brenda Hoddinott. E-mail bhoddinott@hoddinott.com Web sites http://www.finearteducation.com and http://www.drawspace.com
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