Kris Fontes
Visual Art Instructor

Digital Notan

Project Published 8/15/12 Last updated on 5/16/18
Having recently completed a series of Artist Trading Cards based on Notan, the dark and light principle of design, I decided to use this concept in a lesson for my Creative Imaging students. Notan is described as a guiding principle of Eastern art and design that focuses on the interaction between positive and negative space. I am constantly reminding students to be conscious of the importance that positive and negative space play in a composition and how that space can create impact. I had just finished reading a book by Bothwell and Mayfield on Notan and decided to utilize what I had learned from the book by assigning a digital version instead of a traditional one that used cut paper. The students needed to create from a square, by expansion, a design of positive and negative twin shapes that reflect one another. For this assignment, students used an interesting photograph that they had taken. Working in Adobe Photoshop, students imported their image, and using the lasso tools, cut out areas from the sides of the image and then flipped the shape to the outside of the image. Students were required to complete three different variations using the same image. Reflecting – on the challenges – while the idea of Notan may seem simple to execute, being able to create a successful piece was very dependent on multiple configurations of the positive and negative shapes. Sometimes the differences between one solution and another was very minor - a switch in the color or the placement of a shape, that it was very hard to pick a final version.
  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

1+ Day
Content Standards
Creativity and Innovation, Technology Operations and Concepts
CC License
Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
5 / 5 • 2 Ratings