FIGURE GROUND RELATIONSHIP
GOAL: CREATE A PIECE OR SERIES OF PIECES THAT DEMONSTRATE AN INTERESTING REVERSIBLE OR AMBIGUOUS FIGURE GROUND RELATIONSHIP
If you see graphic design as a process of arranging shapes on a canvas, then you’re only seeing half of what you work with. The negative space of the canvas is just as important as the positive elements that we place on the canvas.
There are three types of figure ground relationships:
- Stable (above left)
It’s clear what’s figure and what’s ground. One or the other usually dominates the composition.
- Reversible (above center)
Both figure and ground attract the viewer’s attention equally. This creates tension, whereby either can overtake the other, leading to a dynamic design.
- Ambiguous (above right)
Elements can appear to be both figure and ground simultaneously. They form equally interesting shapes, and the viewer is left to find their own entry point into the composition.
Create a figure ground reversal using letter shapes.
In the example on the left, the smaller motif was scanned and repeated into the larger pattern.
Below, each small section uses one letterform.
1. Working within a 6-x-6-inch square, create compositions using a single letterform. Examine the forms and counter-forms (negative space that is fully or partially enclosed by a letterform) of the letter. 2. Isolate just enough of each letter to hint at its identity. Strike a balance between positive and negative space. 3. Create six or more 6 x 6-inch square compositions (black and white). Execute with your choice of hands on art materials or digital image on computer.
Read these two articles
Take a series of pictures of light figures on a dark ground and a series of dark figures on a light ground