Negative Drawing 101

Pretend you hear One Winged Angel, like the video originally has but due to copyright that’s definitely not getting imported xD

Someone just asked me a question about this and since I don’t know what to talk about next, let’s give this one a go 😀

First, it’s important to have a general idea what negative space is. It’s the space surrounding an object, figure, or form. The positive space refers to the object, figure, or form that exists within the negative space. Understanding both positive and negative space in an artwork and learning to “see” negative space helps to create fuller pieces with greater balance and depth. One way to understand the value of negative space is to lay your hand with fingers splayed on a piece of paper and trace it, then color or shade in the entire paper around your hand. By learning to see and draw the negative or surrounding space, you can make the outer outline or contour of the positive space (object) naturally appear.

Another way to describe this is the figure-ground relationship. Drawing the holes or gaps in an image of a chair is a popular way to engage in negative space drawing. The outer contour or outline is the barrier between the positive and negative space. You aren’t drawing the object but giving the illusion of the object by drawing around it.

  • Erase the Negative Space, creating an image by purposefully concentrating on the negative space around an object is through erasing. Try covering an entire paper with a black, gray, or another dark hue with a medium that can be erased. A medium-dark pencil to shade without too much pressure and a standard pink eraser or charcoal with a gum eraser works just fine. Your goal will be to remove or pull away all the negative space you see around an object by erasing the negative space from the picture. When you do this, only the object remains in the dark hue. Again, a chair is useful here or another object with clear outlines and chunks of positive and negative space. This is tricky to explain verbally.
  • Optical Illusions often make it confusing for our brains to determine which part of an image is the positive or dominant area and which is receding or negative. I find a useful example of this in “Rubin’s Vase,” Psychologist Edgar Rubin created a series of these images in 1915.
  • Stencil and Printing Art, you can also use stenciling and printing to understand positive and negative space in a new medium. With a stencil project, a stencil, or sheet with images cut out laid over a surface. When you apply color, it only hits the surface below and appears where the stencil layer is absent. When cutting out and creating a stencil, remember that the last image will mimic the stencil’s negative space, or the pieces of paper they remove. I learned more about this with Screen printing projects, it’s a great way to explore this process.

Negative space drawing isn’t discussed very often, and the concept can be elusive because it is a unique way of looking at things. Instead of looking at objects, you are supposed to look at where the objects aren’t. I like to think of positive spaces as occupied by solid objects, while negative spaces are the areas filled with air or other things invisible to the eye. 

drawing negative space

By placing pockets of negative spaces as accurately as you can in relationship to the whole, your contour drawing will come easily. You are not only looking at the lines (edges), you are also working “inside out” by isolating and framing the shapes within the larger outline.

I probably shouldn’t ruin this post by doing what I’m about to but if I tell myself to remember it for one in the future, I will just forget and it’s gg lol. A couple of months ago I talked about Merch by Amazon which is basically Amazon dropshipping, and after trial and error I finally got passed the uploading stage.

Click image to be redirected

I also started pushing out low content books – journals with my artwork and some cliché quote as the title.

Click click.

I’ve got a bunch of designs that are currently under review, this process takes more time as they screen your submissions for copyright infringement and/or other violations. Because of this snail pace timeframe, I’ve opted for a store page of my own. is up and running!

I know many people are iffy about the quality of ~UnKnoWN BrAnDS~ but if you read this page, you can find out which company I use and get a sense of how merchandise is handled.

Finally –

I think it’s important to remind everyone why I’m doing this.

As her one-year anniversary rounds the corner, I feel further from closure more than ever. My grief is idle, brewing up a train wreck of a storm, but I am trying my best to work towards an outcome that can divert it. I miss my munchkin every second of the day and I won’t stop fighting.

Read J4E for details & RXO for more information.