For those of you who have been around the drawing block before “Negative Space” is kind of like an old familiar friend. I think it was either fifth or ninth grade that I was introduced to this technique. Betty Edwards has certainly created a whole cottage industry around this technique. All the power to her.
I have used this technique forever. I remember getting my pre-college portfolio together and negative space helped me with my still life drawings. Negative space or shape also helped me back in my college days when I was clueless on how to draw the figure.
This technique of spiraling out from a simple negative space is golden. It’s simple and it works.
I usually like to start with the negative space between the models arm and torso. If the model has their hand on their hip this shape will most likely come in the form of a triangle. I then measure across the torso to the other side of the models torso drawing in two angles. I then draw a little in the middle, usually the spine.
So in essence it’s sort of like you are spiraling out from the center of the first simple negative space you see.
The other beautiful thing about this drawing technique is that it tricks your brain. Anyone can draw a funky looking negative shape, however drawing a complicated figure, that’s hard. A lot of artists always start with the head first. That’s a great place to start. However starting with an abstract negative shape gives you options. Especially if you are drawing an unconventional foreshortened pose.
So the next time you are in life drawing class or even drawing from a photo try spiraling out from a simple abstract shape. It’s super fun and easy.