Negative Drawing

Negative drawing is a big part of all my drawings. Its a useful technique that can bring realism when used correctly. So, what is negative drawing?

Well, negative drawing is basically drawing without actually drawing. Its drawing something by drawing around it. for example, look at this image.

negative drawing

The white square is drawn negatively and the black square is drawn positively. The white that you see would be the paper that you are drawing on. It was drawn by drawing around the shape of the square leaving the area white. The white area is the negative space. In negative drawing the white space is not erased, its created by drawing around it.

The correct method for negative drawing is to observe the shapes formed around or in between object(s). Once you understand the shapes you begin shading the area around these shapes revealing the negative space. Drawing the outline first and then shading outside the outline is not negative drawing. Positive drawing is the opposite of this, which is what most of us do to draw. We draw the outline and we draw in the detail, this is positive drawing.

negative drawing grass

The image above was drawn by shading around the shapes without drawing the outline first. This could easily be blades of grass overlapping each other. But this is just the outline, you can then add the detail to suggest overlapping blades . Once you have the shape you are looking for, you can add detail or in the case of whiskers, they can stay totally white.

This technique is incredibly useful when you want to create different effects. Its great when drawing whiskers and grass. Here are more examples of negative drawing, these are simple but they show basically what negative drawing is.

negative drawing

I use negative drawing often in my drawings, especially for drawing realistic animal hair. In the image above, the drawing with the three lines was created using the stylus tool that i have, a pen with no ink. I used the pen to indent on the paper leaving white lines, then i passed the pencil over and it left a clean white line. This is a technique that is great for hair texture and highlights. I will explain it with much more detail when i do the hair tutorial. If you have any questions, please comment or contact me.

 Drawing Realistic Hair with Pencil Tutorial