Design Element 4: Space

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Going further from Colour, Type and Lines, we come to Space as the fourth element of design. Spaces is important in most places. It helps create music, it helps in relationships and it even helps in public spaces. Lack of space creates noise. The same is true visually. There’s got to be enough space. Without space none of your elements are seen. They become noise.

When it comes to design, the implications of space are to create depth, to place elements in an area and arrange them effectively. Space can connect and separate elements in design. Space creates rhythm, direction, flow and motion. Within the topic of space, there are a lot of elements that we can create with space that lead to perspectives within the artwork.

What makes space important? It gives the eye a place to rest, which proves important when you are trying to absorb the message you are trying to communicate. It makes any project easier to navigate.

Whitespace is a unique element in design, that has a lot of uses – it creates groupings of elements, it creaes emphasis and heirarchy and it improves legibility. Following are some great importances of space in design:


The size of the object creates the illusion of distance. Larger objects appear closer and smaller ones appear further away. Overlap works in the same way to make one appear closer than (therefore in front of) the other. Another way to portray distance is the horizon line. Typically, objects closer to the horizno line seem far away, and ones closer to the bottom or top appear closer. Space and colour also relate in that colour fades as objects go further away, as a result of atmospheric pressure, which can also be used to indicate depth.


Linear perspective is an important part of creating space as well. The use of converging lines to a vanishing point help create a realistic illusion of space has been a practice since the Renaissance period. Shading to add sources of light are also effective ways to place objects at a distance and create a 3D effect.


Space can also create consistency. Consistent use of white space across pages connects those pages. Space is layout. When the space remains the same your readers don’t get disoriented. Your navigation stays in the same location. Your logo is in the same spot on every page. This consistency is also professional – giving due importance to the white space is what differentiates amateur design from good design.

Negative space can be active or passive. Passive negative space is static and formal, and mostly symmetric, while active negative space is asymmetric, dynamic, modern and interesting.

Thus, we have a primer to understanding space in design. Look forward to our series on deeper looks at these elements so that we can tackle them in a more in-depth way.