Visual element of Graphic Design: Space

Space creates the visual essence and dynamic of a composition. In design there are two types of space: Positive space and negative space.

Space creates the visual essence and dynamic of a composition. In design there are two types of space: Positive space and negative space.

Positive space can be perceived as two dimensional or three-dimensional. Positive space refers to the shapes of objects. It usually refers to anything that is considered the main focus of the page.

Negative space is the white space or empty space which is the part of the design that is not there, the space between the visual elements. This can also be the background colour of a design. Negative space can be just as integral to the design as the positive space.

Positive space and negative space
Positive space and negative space

Negative space is important because it helps frame and contain a composition. Negative space connects or disconnects shapes to suggest relationships between shapes. Negative space avoids visual clutter and looks clean which can help balance a composition and help focus the viewer on something specific.

In design what creates positive and negative space is the arrangement and visual appearance of shapes within a composition. In two dimensional design proximity, overlap, opacity, light, and shadow and perspective can be applied to shapes to create visual dynamics. The illusion of depth or space in a composition.

Proximity is simply the distance shapes are from one another far apart or close together, proximity suggest relationships between shapes. Overlap is the effect where shapes are arranged to appear to be on top of each other. This illusion makes the top element look closer to the observer.

Opacity is the effect where objects appear transparent, degrees of opacity can make elements like heavy or light to suggest dominance and order of closeness in a space opacity blurs is the barriers between positive and negative space overlapping transparent elements can create dynamics in a composition to create an illusion of 3D and perspective.

Space examples
Space examples

Light and shadow can give an object a three-dimensional look, shadow can create the illusion that an object is on top of another and suggest how far apart they may be. Perspective is created through the arrangement, creation and manipulation of shapes to look like they appear in real life.

This is the effect where shapes appear to get smaller the further away they get. Perspective can also be achieved through the use of relative sizes of objects overlapping objects and blurring and sharpening of objects.

In design there is no way to determine the depth of the space, only the order of closeness. In design we could use positive and negative space to create a focal point, create balance, set a visual tone and define a look and feel.


  1. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your experience.
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Dafi Deff Motion Graphics: Visual element of Graphic Design: Space
Visual element of Graphic Design: Space
Space creates the visual essence and dynamic of a composition. In design there are two types of space: Positive space and negative space.
Dafi Deff Motion Graphics
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