Lesson 2: Space

Why space? What is space?

Space is one of the seven elements of art. Space is always part of an artwork - whether it’s a sculpture, logo, painting, or drawing, it will have space. In sculptures space is physical and 3D; but in drawings, space is how the artwork is organized on a page.

Negative space and Positive Space

Positive space is the focus of the image, the object itself. Negative space is the space between, within and surrounding an object in an image. It shares edges with the positive space, defining the outline of the object and creating proportion.


Exercise 1: Negative Nelly


  1. Find an object in your house that is relatively simple but not a geometric (so a belt is okay, a book is not)
  2. Draw the negative space of the object. That is the space the object is not in. Your lines should be where the object and negative space meet up.
  3. Do not just draw the outline of the object - we are not drawing the object, we’re drawing the space it isn’t in.
  4. Fill in the negative space. I cross-hatched, but you can fill it in any way you want.

How do artists show space?

  • Size relationship: As your eye moves toward the background of an image, objects in it gradually become smaller.
  • Placement of objects: In drawings, objects placed high appear further in the background.
  • Overlapping objects: To overlap is to place one object behind another, partially hiding it. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to show space.
  • Value change: Throwback to our previous video! The further back an object is, the less detail and value contrast is has
  • Details: Details of an object in the background as less clear than those in the foreground
  • Atmospheric, or aerial, perspective: This is described in greater detail in our value video. Objects in the background are lightened
  • Linear perspective: A system to create depth where parallel lines appear to meet at one point (converge)

The 4 Parts of One-Point Linear Perspective


Horizon line: The horizon line is a horizontal line drawn across the picture.  This is eye level to whoever is looking at it

Vanishing point: The vanishing point is an imaginary point on a drawing where lines all meet up. All the parallel lines converge to the single point.

Receding lines: Receding lines are the lines that meet into the vanishing point

Vertical and horizontal lines: Vertical lines in a drawing are always vertical, horizontal are always horizontal.

Exercise 2: Linear Perspective Cubes

For this exercise, you will draw at least 3 cubes in a one-point perspective.







  1. Draw a horizontal line in the centre of your paper
  2. Draw a circle near the middle of this line - this is your vanishing point
  3. From each corner, draw a diagonal line that goes through your vanishing point. It should look like a big X across your page.
  4. Draw the face of a cube anywhere on your paper. This should just look like a normal square or rectangle
  5. From each corner of your square or rectangle, lightly draw a line that converges to the vanishing point. These receding lines are what creates the perspective.
  6. Finish the cube by closing the box - draw a vertical line and horizontal line within the receding lines.
  7. Erase the receding lines that aren’t in your cube.
  8. Draw at least 2 more cubes.

The Challenge: Why You Gotta Be So Negative?

For this challenge, you’ll be doing another negative drawing but making it more complex.


  1. Find multiple household objects. From them, create a temporary mini sculpture (or arrangement/composition) that has a lot of holes in it. Don’t worry about it looking ‘weird’. Here’s mine, that was created from a sandal, tape, and lots of pencils
  2. Draw the negative space of your arrangement. 
  3. Remember, do not draw what the arrangement looks like - draw the space it isn’t in!
  4. Fill in the negative space in a solid colour 
  5. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like you expected.

Tip: A way to think about negative space is as the space between things

Questions? Comments? Concerns?
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