LA 10.1 – Layout – Form and Space

1) Cut out a series of shapes from black paper – squares, rectangles, circles and random shapes – in a variety of sizes, from small to large.

I took a piece of white A3 paper and cut into a square rectangle (29,5 x 29,5 cm) using a ruler, a pencil and a cutter/paper knife. I bought a big piece of thick, black paper and cut it into smaller pieces (circles, squares, rectangles, triangles and random shapes in a variety of sizes) using a scissor. On the white paper, I made marks dividing the paper into thirds vertically and horizontally.

2) Working with a square piece of white paper, place shapes of different sizes into the white space; place them on the white one at a time and move them around.

One by one I put the black pieces (figure) on to the white piece of paper (ground), trying to use the theories of composition «figure and ground», «the law of closure» and «the rule of thirds» whilst continuously trying to keep the composition balanced. Moving the pieces around, I tried to use the different theories of composition, form and space, dots and lines, figure and ground, the law of closure and the rule of thirds (see textbook mentioned in Resources below for further info about these theories).

I find it easier to use defined shapes such as rectangles, squares, circles and triangles to compose figure/ground making them blend naturally in together rather than using random shapes. Even though, I used all the shapes I had cut out to visualize these principles.

Below are some photographs of my work progress:


3) Try to find the point where the distinction between figure and ground becomes unclear. Does it depend on which shape dominates the space: black or white? Is it about the position of the shape within the space? Think about how important figure-ground relationships are within composition and design.

This is my final result as I feel figure and ground blend into each other:


It turns out that as I place the black figures on the white paper, they are shaping the white space (background). They are equally dependent on each other. How I place the different shapes, makes movement in the composition, but too many figures, makes it all messy as if all the figures are fighting for the hotspot. I found it easy to make figure-ground relationships with squares and triangles, but it surprised me that to a certain point, this was also the case with the circles. It is almost as if the brain interpret the dominant colour as the ground. I think it also effects the visual interpretation of the composition whether the eye easily can recognize shapes from the figure/ground and focus on these as they blend into each other.



  • «Overview of Layout» – lesson from Noroff School
  • «Layout Part 1» and «Layout part 2» – video lessons from Noroff School
  • «InDesign CC2017 Essential Training» – Lynda course with David Blatner


  • Graphic Design School: A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working in Print, Moving Image and Digital Media, Unit 2 (page 32-61), Fundamentals of Composition.



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