DESIGN ELEMENTS & PRINCIPLES

DESIGN ELEMENTS:  point line shape form tone texture colour letterform     FOR TEACHERS

DESIGN PRINCIPLES:  figure-ground balance contrast cropping hierarchy scale proportion pattern
INDEX   Members only
DESIGN PRINCIPLE
FIGURE-GROUND


FIGURE and GROUND
The eye differentiates an object from its surrounding
area. A form, silhouette, or shape is naturally perceived
as figure (object), while the surrounding area is
perceived as ground (background).
Balancing figure and
ground can make the perceived image more clear.
Using unusual figure/ground relationships can add
interest and subtlety to an image
.


In a visual presentation, the viewer needs to
differentiate between what they are supposed to be
looking at - the information content - and the 'non-
information' areas. The designer, to ensure that this
happens, must be aware of and apply the
FIGURE/GROUND PRINCIPLE.

Objects that stand out against their backgrounds are
called 'figures', and their backgrounds are 'grounds'.

For a more detaled explanation go to
www.bastoky.com/Organize.htm


The principle of figure/ground is one of the most basic
laws of perception and one that is used extensively to
help us design.
In its basic sense, it refers to our ability to separate elements
based upon contrast - that is, dark and light, black and white. It
also means consideration of the abstract concept of
positive/negative space.

Figure-ground refers to the relationship between an
object and its surround.
Sometimes the relationship is strong, meaning that it is easy to
pick out the figure from the ground. Other times the
relationship is weak, meaning it is difficult to pick out the figure
from the ground.
Rarely, the relationship is ambiguous,
meaning that the figure could be the ground or vice-versa. This
latter tendency is exploited in reversible figure-ground figures
like the vase/two faces figure
(left). You can see the drawing
as either a central vase, or two faces that are looking at each
other. Generally when you see one of the images, the other
image forms a background and is not seen, so to see both
images requires switching back and forth.

M. C. Escher used to take advantage of this characteristic of
perception in his art.
Escher often designed art which played
around with figure and ground in interesting ways.
Go to
www.worldofescher.com/gallery/SkyAndWaterLg.html
and
www.usask.
ca/education/coursework/skaalid/theory/gestalt/figround.htm




Can you see the ambiguity in the Fedex logo (left)?
Hint: Look for the arrow


What is white space?
and what has this got to do with FIGURE/GROUND?
Well, white space isn't even necessarily white. White space
is simply empty space .....
Click
here for more
EXAMPLE 1
EXAMPLE 2






www.creativepro.com/story/feature/19211.html?origin=story
Fixing an Indistinct Logo by Using Figure-Ground
Left: the two logos referred to
Your company's logo should be a distinctive stamp, not a weak
symbol. In this inaugural column from the folks at the design
magazine "Before & After", follow along as a just-OK logo is
transformed into a powerful personal brand by following the
concepts of figure-ground.
Details are explained in a PDF document
EXCELLENT
Go to
www.creativepro.com/img/story/040903_BALogo.pdf



http://painting.about.com/library/weekly/aanegativespace.htm
Negative Space: What Is It?

http://artsillustration.com/negativespace.htm
Negative space
There are several ways you can improve your drawing skills.
One of them is learning how to draw the negative space.
Negative space is the space around an object. If you look at
that space closely and draw it accurately you can wind up with a
pretty accurate positive drawing.  If attention is paid to negative
spaces, the forms will take care of themselves. The objects and
the spaces around them fit together like pieces in a puzzle.

www.apogeephoto.com/mag1-3/mag1-3mf1.shtml
Composition… A Primer on Positive and Negative space
By Michael Fulks
..... The average photography student probably didn't learn
what most other artists learn in their basic classes ..... In many
basic drawing classes students learn that there are three basic
elements of a composition: the frame, the positive space and
the negative space. The positive space is easiest to understand.
Generally, it is the space occupied by your subject. Conversely,
negative space is the space that is not your subject. Sounds
easy doesn't it? Not quite.

www.electricscotland.com/art/rightside2.htm
NEGATIVE SPACE: Exercise
Gather some objects-scissors, keys, anything small enough you
can trace around on a sheet of paper. What you have traced
around is called the POSITIVE SPACE. The space outside the
object is called the NEGATIVE SPACE. In order to see this better
take a black marking pen and fill in the Negative space.



www.posterpage.ch/exhib/ex58_kun/ex58_kun.htm
Here are some very interesting boxing posters (example on
left)
that are very good examples of
figure/ground/positive/negative/whitespace (remember that
'whitespace' doesn't always mean white)



HOME
IDEAS FOR ACTIVITIES
EXCELLENT
DRAWING "NEGATIVE"
SPACE
Click
here

Positive and Negative
Space Lesson Plan
Click
here
ESCHER
For more about Escher click
here