12. Implied Space


Through this assignment you’ll focus on creating the illusion of implied space by manipulating hue and value patterns. Will will be using vibrating hues and geometric forms, or “constellations”,   to create a final piece that gives the viewer an optical illusion of space folding on a two dimensional plane, which is our mixed media paper.



Vibrating hues vibrate, or appear to “shimmer” along the edge of where the two colors meet. This is an optical effect created by complementary colors that are opposite in hue (directly opposite each on the color wheel) but equal in value. The effect will not work as well if they don’t appear to have the same level on the value scale.

Below are a few examples of colors that vibrate.




What makes these colors vibrate is the relationship between the two colors.
Both colors are equal in value, equal in intensity. This combination will result in a vibrating (where the edges vibrate) relationship.

Below illustrates the concept for the next project.

  • Using two complementary hues with equal value, find three or four versions of tints and shades.
  • Focus on tints and shades. Tints may be lighter and or intense, where shades will be a darker value of the same hue.
  • Imagine an implied light source and apply the appropriate tint or shade to that plane.
  • You can use your sketchbooks to experiment with color and design process throughout the week.

Additionally, your design will consist of geometric form(s).

Below are 2 examples of how you can apply the 4 values (also study the direction of the stripes)

Same geometric “constellation” design, but with a different set of colors:

Below is a finished example of the project (notice how the over all form exhibits volume by applying a value change to each plane).


Structural constellations, in our field, commonly refer to design forms pioneered by artists such as Josef Albers. (Guggenheim museum link.) There are a myriad of online templates that can help you come up with your own design for this project. Please feel free to use any of these templates as a basis for your design since they are simple basic geometry and are often considered fair use. The line work and color options that you choose to pursue within the template will make the design truly your own. A series of structural constellations for project inspiration can be found online via Google search at https://www.google.com/search?q=structural+constellations&tbm=isch&source=univ&client=firefox-b-1-ab&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjFoOG2na7hAhWSsp4KHQK8CpAQsAR6BAgJEAE&biw=1151&bih=853

  1. Decide which vibrating hues, aka complementary colors, you would like to work with for this project.
  2. In your sketchbook, experiment with different values, or tints, of those colors to ensure you can evenly execute them. I find it really helpful to do small swatches of color in my sketchbook and write down a formula as to how exactly I came up with that color so when I need to remix it for touch ups I can do so reliably.
  3. Select your structural constellation shape and sketch it out on your 18″ x 24″ paper. (Hint: the larger the form is, the more successful the optical illusion. Try to have your constellation take up as much of the picture plane as possible, rather than having a small version floating in a large surrounding of white space.) Also, for this project you’ll definitely need a fair amount of masking tape. The crisper and cleaner the lines are in each passage, the stronger the illusion will be.
  4. Please post a photo your results in the comments section of the correlating post.


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