As a designer, visual assets are critical in our line of work. Fonts, colors, and photography are just some of the materials that we must have to work with to tell our clients stories. But there is another element that is not always factored in and in fact can be the one thing that either makes or breaks any composition, I am talking about negative space.
Negative space, sometimes referred to as white space, is the space around and between an object within your design. Used asa neutral or contrasting background to draw attention to the main subject which is referred to as positive space, it is most notably noticed when the space around an element forms a shape. In all design layouts, negative space is used to separate content so that your design does not appear crowded or cluttered. As founder of Design Crawl, James George puts it “When someone looks at a piece designed with well-composed negative space, the viewer can effortlessly evaluate and appreciate the design.”
The benefits of negative space extend further than just preventing your design from becoming crowded. It enhances your designs visual hierarchy by directing your audience through the composition the way that you intended them to. But like all things in life, too much of something is never good, and that applies to negative space as well. Designs can feel empty or incomplete if there is not enough substance within the content of your layout. It’s a balancing act that takes times to master, but once you start designing with negative space in mind a world of creative opportunity awaits.
Things to Consider when Working with Negative Space
Understand what your positive space is (headers, body copy, imagery) and work the negative space around it in a way that allows your positive space to stand out and read as you intended.
Get critiques on your design. Since everyone’s view of negative space is different get some feedback to see how others feel about your layout and its readability; are they reading the content in the order that you intended?
Keep it balanced; remember that too much negative space makes the layout feel less intriguing but not enough negative space makes the piece to congested and may overwhelm the reader.
Negative space is not just limited to layouts, some of the most famous logos in the world utilize negative space within them. Take the FedEx logo for example; the right facing arrow that is created when the letters “E” and X” are combined is a perfect example that proves how effective negative space can be. When you create hidden elements within your designs using negative space, you reward your viewers making them feel included that they see what the designer intended them to see, in return this makes your brand more memorable.
In the end, there is nothing negative about negative space. It is a challenge to work with but once you understand how it functions you will be able to visualize it clearly.