Positive/Negative Space & Household Tools

First Homework assignment, due Thursday, Sept. 11th – Positive-Negative Design
All homework assignments are to be done in your personal AF-issue sketchbook.

  1. Find a simple but interesting household tool.
  2. Suggestions: scissors, spatula, whisk, fork, pliers – something that challenges your personal ability.
  3. On a piece of black construction paper, draw (NOT TRACE) the OUTLINE (and any negative spaces) of the tool you have chosen. Before you start, try looking at the tool from different angles and at different positions.
  4. You want your outline to be visually interesting. If you need to practice sketching, feel free to use a page or two of your sketchbook for this. Simplifying the outline is fine.
  5. Now cut out along the outline you have drawn, and also those negative shapes within the contour of the tool, and carefully decide where to place your cutout on the page of your sketchbook. It has to touch at least three edges of the page. (You guessed it, you have to make it pretty big!)
  6. When you are finished, your page will be a positive-negative composition. The tool should be recognizable.

Some reminders about composition from Tim McCreight’s book Design Language:

Though composition requires parts, it cannot be considered except as a whole. Composition is to elements as ingredients are to a recipe…

Gestalt psychology as applied to visual phenomena identified the fact that humans see the whole before we see the parts. This would suggest that we have a natural tendency toward completeness or harmony.

There are rules of composition just as there are rules of language. In both cases, these are only useful as starting points. The difference between language (which communicates) and gibberish (which does not) is an adherence to fundamental rules. Conventional spelling, pronunciation, grammar and structure do not make communication good—they only make it possible.

…Here are a few of the rules of composition:
• symmetry tends to promote stability
• diagonals are more active than horizontals
• proximity creates tension
• sameness is frequently boring
• regularity creates rhythm
• contrast exaggerates and effects
• equal amounts of figure and ground confuse the eye