Leave Room for Negative Space

The last tip I have for larger venues is to leave room for negative space – there are two ways to do this, and in this video I show you how!

We have mentioned the concept of negative space before, but what exactly does that mean and how do we use that to our advantage?

What Is Negative Space?

Negative space is defined as any dark or blank spaces within a piece of art. Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, when it comes to lighting, lighting is actually a visual art!

The easiest way to think about negative space when it comes to lighting is to think about the typical concert you may see. The majority of concert shows that you will see have a black backdrop behind them. In this black backdrop there will be various lights put to use while in between the lights will remain black or blank.

How To Create With Negative Space

You can work with negative space in a few ways. Most of the time you want to make sure that you are using your lighting and lighting angles so that the audience and any cameras in the audience area get the best view of everything going on in the show; however, sometimes you will find it makes sense to build negative space into your show.

Design Phase

When building negative space into your show there are a couple different ways to go about it. One way is to build it in during the design phase. Naturally you will find that there will be blank space behind a person on stage.

The areas where there are no lights and no set pieces will just be blackness to use during the design phase. You can use this to space out elements on your backdrop creating spaces between them, etc.


If you have atmosphere in the air, or even in cases where you don’t, you can create negative space within your programming and design process.

One example of how to do this is if you have a greyish backdrop you can have your lights shining up your backdrop or on it from the front to give it texture and it will look great!

That can work perfectly for a lot of your show but if you control your front light really well, especially in large venues, you can build in the ability to have your front light not hit on the backdrop. This is ideal because then you can turn off a lot of the backdrop lights. Visually this now will become your negative space, creating the illusion that the area is smaller.

Expanding and Contracting

You can use your lighting to expand and contract the size of your space! For example, if you have different levels of lighting in the backdrop area you can alternate turning on and off the different levels to flow with the music.

Taking a moment to create the smaller space in those appropriate moments of the show allows you to come back in and really give the effect that the space is much larger as the show continues. It really adds a lot of dynamic aspects visually.

You can also use this method width wise for your stage. This can be really great to use if you have a band playing to highlight different areas and create different moods throughout the show with your lighting.


Occasionally you will find that you have a show where every area of your stage will need to be completely bathed in light, such as at a corporate event or similar, and this is perfectly fine. But ultimately whenever you can, taking that extra time and effort to work in some negative space to your show can really make your show pop. It adds so much more intriguing and dynamic aspects for your audience to enjoy and will really make your show stand out among the rest.

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