Format and Space

Format and space, there are two things that a designer needs to consider before creating something.  First off, what is format?  Well, this refers to the size of what your “canvas” will be and how many pixels to use.  This also includes whether it will be used on a website, billboard, etc.  An example of the size of your canvas would be viewing a movie in the theater and viewing it on your own TV.  So, while designing you have to make it so it will fit the screen and keep in mind what pixels you’ll need to use so it looks good with your clients monitor.

Next, there is space.  There are three forms of space: positive, negative, and illusionary space.

Positive space can be anything that is seen as a solid or the main focus of a design.  As you can see in the photo below, Spider Man is the main focus of the image, therefore he becomes the positive space.


Negative space is everything else that’s not the main focus.  An example of this would be the Batman symbol.  Say the bat in the middle is the positive space, so therefore everything around it becomes the background, or negative space.


Illusionary space is when it looks like the design is 3D on a 2D plane.  This can be done by changing the size and position of objects.  As an example, if two objects are the same but one appears larger, we’ll see this one as being closer to us.  Another way of making something appear closer is making the object lower in the design.  Also, if an object looks lighter and looks to be more in focus, then it will appear to be closer to the viewer.


In the image above, the Green Lantern movie poster looks 3D, but it’s only on a piece of paper.  The Green Lantern appears to be the closest to the viewer.  This is accomplished my making him bigger than the world behind him, having him in a more vivid color than the background, and keeping him in more focus than the background.

As you can see, format and space are used in everything we create, and hopefully Spidey, Batman, and Green Lantern helped you understand the difference between positive, negative and illusionary space!


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