Fun With Stitches, Part 2

Posted by Brett Reistroffer on

Where the Stitches At?

Where the stitches are in an embroidery design is just as important as where they aren't. In the first one of these posts I talked about gradients and color blending; in other words, how to put stitches in an object to give it definition. This time I'm talking about how to put stitches around and object to give it definition, also known as using negative space.

Since embroidery design is all about deciding the placement of stitches and how those stitches will be placed, it's easy to get into the permanent headspace of thinking of every important object as just that: stitches. Using negative space in designs offers a neat way to break yourself out of that narrow approach to digitizing and encourages you to think outside the box (literally, if you happen to be digitizing an actual box).

An example graphic showing the difference between positive and negative space in graphic design.

Perspective Shift

When using an object's positive space--aka, the actual space the object in question takes up--focus is directed to the detail within the object's body, and in embroidery that means all the stitches within it, while leaving the background less detailed because there's less focus on it. By using negative space--aka, the space around an object--the eye can be directed to the background detail, while still defining the shape and nature of the main object.

Using the Chaos patch as an example, the background (negative space) is the design focus, rather than the lettering itself. Lines of running stitches are randomly pathed, using the letter's outlines as boundaries, creating the word 'Chaos' in stark relief with the contrast between the bright red thread on white fabric.

Adding tricks like messing with negative space to your toolset is a great way to broaden the ways you approach digitizing for embroidery, and patches are a perfect place to apply them, as they often have a simple and singular area of focus that can be played with in this way. So play around and have some fun with stitches!

Previous digitizing articles:

Fun With Stitches, pt 1 - Color Blending with Variegated Thread

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