Shape and form

Lesson 3: Elements of Design: Line, Shape and Form, Space

Shape and form

Shape and form are basic elements of design. In art, shape is defined as a flat, two-dimensional area enclosed by a line. Form is a three dimensional area with length, height and depth measurements, enclosed by a surface. All forms and shapes may vary in size or in the area they occupy. Geometric shapes with equal sides include square, equilateral triangle, circle, pentagon, hexagon and octagon (Fig.3.17); and shapes with unequal dimensions (Fig.3.18) are oval, scalene triangle, isosceles triangle, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezoid, diamond and various free forms (kidney, pear, paisley etc.).


The equal sided three dimensional forms (Fig.3.19) include the cube and sphere; and forms with unequal dimensions include the cone, cylinder, pyramid, trumpet, dome, bell etc (Fig.3.20).


Forms have power to evoke feelings similar to those of line. Rectangle and squares with firm right angles in the side shows stability and confidence and shapes with diagonal edges such as pentagons, triangles, cones, pyramids etc. seem dynamic but less stable. Cubes seem static and rigid to us, whereas spheres seem mobile and rhythmically soothing. Those forms that are round, kidney shaped and womblike suggest warmth, comfort and protection. Variations in tall forms may suggest elegance, austerity and spirituality or they may include feelings of elevation such as joy and ecstasy.


The way the shapes fit together influences their effects. Some shapes like squares, hexagons, ogive, diamonds, triangles and rectangles fit tightly and completely together without leaving any spaces between them, which gives a sense of security and stability (Fig.3.21). Some shapes other than the above mentioned, leave spaces between them at some points, when they fit together; but these spaces create new interesting shapes (Fig.3.22). These combinations can be used for creating appealing fabric designs.

Last modified: Tuesday, 24 January 2012, 8:05 AM