Design Elements - Space


Designers use the element of space or depth to refer to the area that a shape occupies. This space is often defined as either positive or negative space, and has many uses and meanings.

•Positive space is the filled space in the design, by either the objects or elements it consists of.
•Negative space is the empty area around these elements or shapes, or the open space between the objects.

The picture below is an example of positive and negative space using black and white circles in the classic ying and yang symbol. If we view white space as positive and black as negative,
the contrast between the white and black space makes the image stand out.


Composition of space

The way in which space is composed within an image is crucial to the atmosphere of the work.
A work showing clustered objects of which is mostly positive space can give a frantic and messy feel
while an image with very little objects of which is mainly negative space can give feeling of loneliness and or tranquillity.

Composition of space is used to both separate and connect the individual elements in any design. Wider and more expansive spaces separate elements from each other,
where as smaller or narrower spaces connect individual elements and help reveal relationships in the design. The act of overlapping elements can be used to maximize
the view of the relationships between the elements, as shown in the picture below.

The image shows the relationship between the bird morphing into the fish, as the use of limited space between the elements displays this.

Logo's often implement the use of space for visual effect. Lets use the Mt. Hotham ski field logo below as an example. The logo represents a ski lodge, resort, snow, skiing
and snowboarding all in one. Now instead of trying to fit every single one of those elements into the logo, the designer has gone for a simple mountain representation,
with space left all around it. This decision draws the eye to the mountain, and leaves no room for distraction. This is a very successful use of the space design element.


Too much space?

Designs aren't generally criticised for containing too much whitespace. New designers typically have the urge to fill the entire canvas with colour, elements, graphics or content.
The sign of a more experienced designer is one who doesn't attempt to fill the space, in retrospect they allow the space to portray the message they intend.

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