What do you call two identical shapes overlapping to form a perfect square or circle?

These are simple examples; I want more complicated examples or the name of this type of art.

I'm looking for a drawing where the negative space is identical to the positive space.

  • 2
    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. Can you clarify the question? It isn't clear what you mean by overlapping identical shapes (I don't see anything overlapping in the example), and it is hard to extrapolate the example to a circle. If you have trouble explaining it in words, a few more varied examples would help, especially one involving a circle.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 20, 2021 at 21:55
  • Hi Ahmed! Please also note that simply asking for more examples of something you found is not really on-topic here. We can help figuring out the term or name of the style, but only if you give a clear description.
    – Joachim
    Sep 21, 2021 at 6:45
  • 1
    A circular example might be a yin-yang symbol, but, like the visual example above, there isn't really any overlap. They're interlinked (that and it's synonyms might be worth searching on) rather than overlapped.
    – Chris H
    Sep 21, 2021 at 8:17
  • @ChrisH yes like the yin-yang example but a more complicated patterns, is there a specific name for this kind of art Sep 24, 2021 at 21:17

2 Answers 2


A possible term is 'counterchange pattern':

"Patterning in which a dark motif on a light ground alternates with the same motif [in] light on a dark ground." (lexico.com)


The Frisian artist M.C. Escher famously made extensive use of this type of pattern, inventing a lot of new ones.
Take a look at his work Metamorphosis III from 1967-68, for example, which contains many patterns of this type, all organically transforming into one another:

M.C. Escher, Metamorphosis III

As you can see, they are not all counterchange patterns: often Escher's patterns involve two distinct units, being not only visually but also symbolically inverted (e.g. angels and devils).
For more examples, see this page.

A broader term that incorporates both types of patterning is tesselation:

"An arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping." (lexico.com)

Also check out eschersket.ch if you're interested in creating repeating patterns yourself.


I would call your example a square spiral. Most people wouldn't think of it as it two overlapping identical shapes. Rather, they would think of the black spiral as the one shape. The nearly-identical white shape is simply formed by the negative space outlined by the black spiral.

To find more complicated spiral patterns, have a look at search results for Greek key spiral patterns. An example:

enter image description here

Also have a look at Labyrinth patterns, for example:

enter image description here source

Similar patterns are used in Celtic art. You can find a selection in search results for "Celtic spiral," for example:

enter image description here

enter image description here

(images without specific source links are from the linked Google image search results)

  • 1
    @Joachim I agree, but hopefully if my answer is not what they wanted they will clarify.
    – csk
    Sep 21, 2021 at 22:55
  • thanks, i used some of your keywords i think I'm looking for a drawing where the negative space is identical to the positive space Sep 24, 2021 at 21:04

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