Shapes and Forms

All objects have shape or form.   Shapes enclose a two dimensional(2D) area.  Forms are three dimensional (3D).

There are three types of shapes.  The first type, already mentioned is a geometric shape.  Then, there are organic shapes, which are curved and random, like plants and trees in nature.  And there are abstract shapes which aren’t geometric and don’t resemble anything in nature.

A form is the three dimensional version of a shape.  Or rather, it is an object or the 3D representation of an object.  Form encloses a volume or three-dimensional area.  Geometric forms have volume, which is the space contained within a form, like water inside a glass.  A measuring cup contains lines that measure how much liquid can be contained in that cup.

Whether 2D shapes or 3D forms, these design elements can show many different ideas and feelings.  Arrows point to locations.  Octagons represent stop signs.  A triangle on its base can make us feel a sense of stability, but a triangle on one of its points can make us feel the opposite of stability which is instability.  Shapes and forms are both geometric.  Geometric shapes such as triangles, squares, circles have no volume, which means that they are flat.

Circles have no beginning or end.  Circles have free movement. They can roll. Shading and lines can enhance this sense of movement in circles.  Circles protect, they endure, they restrict. They confine what’s within and keep things out.

Squares and rectangles are stable.  Squares and rectangles suggest conformity, peacefulness, solidity, security, and equality.  Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength.  Triangles can direct movement based which way they point.

Spirals are expressions of creativity.  They represent trust during change, the release of energy and maintaining flexibility through transformation.

Crosses symbolize spirituality and healing.  They represent relationships and synthesis and a need for connection to something, whether that something is group, individual, self, or project related.

As with lines vertical shapes are seen as strong and horizontal shapes are seen as peaceful. Most everything said about vertical and horizontal lines can be said about vertical and horizontal shapes.

Curved shapes offer rhythm and movement, happiness, pleasure and generosity. They are seen as more feminine than sharp shapes which offer energy, violence and, anger. Sharp shapes are lively and youthful and are seen as more masculine.

Shapes can be used to convey depth by varying their size and position within a design. Larger shapes will appear closer and smaller shapes will appear further away. Shapes that are located lower in a design will seem closer and those higher up further away. Overlapping shapes is another way to create a sense of one in front of the other to add depth to your design.

  • Try to keep background shapes simple and large. Being large can help attract attention and simplicity can put the focus back to the foreground.
  • Try to use few shapes where possible. Don’t use 3 or 4 shapes to communicate when one shape will do.

Forms are almost the same as shapes. Shapes have two dimensions, length and width.
Think of forms as the three dimensional, (3D) versions of shapes.
Forms, just like shapes, can be geometric or they can be freeform. They can show perspective, or depth in a picture
Geometric shapes include squares and rectangles, circles and ovals, and triangles.
(What are the names of the forms of the two dimensional shapes mentioned above called?)

Forms hold space like a cup holds water. This space is known as volume. It’s how much water our cup can hold.

How many geometric forms can you name ? Geometric forms, just like geometric shapes, have precise lines, curves, and angles.

Shapes can be used to show perspective. Perspective shows depth. When one circle is in front of the other, or in the foreground, it’s bigger than the other.
The circle in the background is smaller because it’s farther away.

Vocabulary:   two dimensional,  three dimensional,  geometric, organic, abstract,  stability,  instability,  circles,  squares,  rectangles,  spirals, crosses, horizontal, vertical,  sharp shapes, curved shapes, perspective, volume , background, foreground, triangular, circular, rectangular, square-shaped, rounded