Space and Proportion in Art

Article about Space and Proportion in Art

Apr 23, 2021

In this article, Chicago-based artist Dudi Berkowitz will teach you six things about space and proportion that you should know. Within a drawing, space helps define the objects it contains and those around it. The drawings describe the relationships between objects and space by line, tonal value, and color, which define such objects and create the impression of depth, scale, and perspective.

About Space

Below, Dudi Berkowitz Chicago explains some terms related to space in the drawing:

  • Illusion: Visual representation of a 3D space in two dimensions.
  • Pictorial space: Illusion of depth and 3D space created on a 2D support.
  • Pictorial plane: 2D space within the borders of the frame established for the drawing.
  • Full or positive space: Area occupied by a space.
  • Empty or negative space: Area between and around objects.
  • Open space: It is included in the drawings to allow the subject to breathe on the paper.
  • Active space: Space within the image in which the active elements can move.
  • Flat space: Space without curves or hints of depth.

Space Drawing

Draw a chair and the space in and around it to understand full and empty spaces.

Select a drawing topic and turn it upside down to make it look less familiar. Draw the ones you see and use a light color for the full shape and a dark color for the empty shape.

Six points about space and proportion that you should know

Draw the filled space, occupied by the object. People who learn to draw, often draw only the so-called filled or positive space, that is, the space that the object occupies (for example, a vase of flowers, a face, a cat), and they tend to leave out or ignore the context as far as the background is concerned.

Draw the empty space, which is between the objects and around them. If you focus on drawing the empty or negative shapes in and around the space between objects, it is much easier to avoid being distracted by our ideas about what shapes and objects should look like.

Draw backwards. It is much easier to draw an object if we look at it upside down or from an unusual point of view. According to artist Dudi Berkowitz Chicago, this exercise is especially useful for those who have difficulty seeing full and empty shapes in space and for those who have trouble grasping dimensions correctly.

Draw to scale. Scale is important when drawing in proportion to actual size. We can decide to enlarge the subject (for example, to draw a small part of a flower) or to reduce it (to draw a building). Getting the correct scale and proportion is important in realistic drawing. For example, make sure that the doors are large enough in relation to the people in a room. The scale is distorted on purpose to change the relative importance of the distorted object.

Use a grid to zoom in or out. The easiest method to zoom is a grid. It is very easy to learn and remember, and the size of the grid can be adapted to the task at hand (to draw detailed areas we can use a smaller grid).

Avoid even spaces. Even spaces within the drawing or around the subject should be avoided. The irregular arrangement of space is more effective.


Proportion is a powerful principle that should be understood by every artist. As artists, we can choose to use color or not. We can choose to use emphasis or not. There is, however, no escaping proportion. One simply cannot “leave it out”. If you want to see how Dudi Berkowitz Chicago has put this guidelines in use, make sure you check out his portfolio on Artrepreneur.

Articles authored by Dudi BerkowitzChicago

Published: Apr 23, 2021

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