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Element of Design: Space

The Element of Design Space refers to the area within, around, above or below an object or objects. It is important to creating and understanding both two dimensional or three dimensional works of art. With three dimensional art the space things occupy is real as is the space around object. In two dimensional art this is definitely not the case. Two dimensionall art exists on a flat surface, so if something looks three dimensional- it is an illusion! Even the most realistic paintings or photographs are illusions. Two dimensional artists use a number of "tricks" for creating the illusion of depth in their art.

Creating the Illusion of Space

Size: larger objects appear closer, smaller further away

Overlap : partially covering one shape (object with another makes the one in front appear closer.

Placement: where a shape or object is in relationship to the horizon line creates depth. Things closer to the horizon line appear further away. Objects closer to the bottom or top of your paper (canvas, etc.) appear closer.

Placement in relation to the horizon contributes to the illusion of space

Atmospheric perspective: objects as they recede into the distance begin to lose color brightness and detail.

Example of Atomospheric perspective

Shading: adding light and shadow to the surface of objects to mimic the way real objects would appear under the same lighting.

Linear Perspective: this is a system of drawing developed during the Renaissance period of history (about 1400-1500). It use lines that converge on vanishing points to achieve a more realistic illusion of space. Linear perspective is described by the number of vanishing points used- one point, two point or three point. Type most often are used alone, but they may be combined in complex drawings or painitngs.


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