Figure/Ground 2D Drawing/ Design Problem IV Assigned:10/12/99


This is a figure/ ground exercise. The relationship of a figure to the ground (or background, or field) that it sits on, can be thought of as a two-dimensional paradigm for the three-dimensional relationship of form to space (or void).

Tear a 6" x 12" piece of black paper into twelve pieces of any shape. Develop a composition using all the pieces on a 12" x 12" square white field. You may well have to do this several times to get a composition you like. When you do, mount the pieces using white glue, rubber cement or a little hot glue on a 12" x 12" square of white poster board, foam core board, or illustration board.

The goal of this exercise is to create a composition in which figure and ground can readily switch roles: black figure on white ground, or white figure on black ground.


In your field notebook, record (by drawing, naturally) at least 5 examples of figure/ ground relationships that you happen upon. (They might relate to the shadows youčre collecting for your shadow gallery .) The more ambivalent , that is, readable either way, your examples are, the better. Make the best one into a black and white drawing for inclusion in your portfolio.

What would happen if you redid it in two complementary colors?

Figure/Ground 2D to 3D

1) Make a small figure/ground composition by tearing a 3"x6" rectangle of black paper into shapes and placing them on a 6"x6" white ground. When you're satisfied with your comoposition, glue it down.

2) Make a line tracing of the composition.

3) Turn the composition up on one corner –about 45 degrees from horizontal.

4) On tracing paper, draw a line up from the bottom corner, about 6".

5) Place your tracing's bottom corner at the top of the 6" line.

6) Project vertical lines up from the FIGURES in the compostion to the traced shapes above;. You may have to do several overlays to clean up the drawing, dropping out lines covered by overlapping forms.

7) Make another drawing that projects the shapes of the GROUND into the third (vertical) dimension.

Congratulations! You're drawing axonometrics!



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