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Negative Space Drawing - How to Use Negative Space

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Applying Negative Space Drawing
Negative Space Drawing - How to Use Negative Space
Seeing negative spaces correctly is a skill worth developing. Negative space is used a great deal when you want to avoid outlining and create true value drawing. It is needed when you have a texture like light-colored hair or grass, when you need to focus on the dark shadows behind and underneath the strands. The 'foreground' - the positive shapes of light hair or grass - are 'left behind' as white paper while the shadows and darks are drawn with dark charcoal or pencil.

A sound understanding of negative space drawing is critical for watercolor painting, as a watercolor is built through a progressive overlaying of negative-space areas, working from light to dark.

In the photograph below, note how the red-outlined dark areas lock together to reveal the form of the foreground shapes of the leaves. Focusing on the leaf forms is fine for a line drawing, but if you want a shaded value drawing, you'll need to observe the negative spaces as shown, so that you can leave behind the positive space, drawing the leaves lighter, and leaving the white edges and veins of the leaves clear.

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