Monday, June 25, 2012

Elements of Design - Shape

 Elements of Design - Shape
The next design element to discuss is Shape.

A shape is a defined as an area that stands out from the space next to it or around it due to a defined or implied boundary or because of differences of value, color or texture.  All objects are composed of shapes and all other elements of design are shapes in some way.

Categories of Shape
There are 6 categories of shape.

  • Geometric Shapes: These are the shapes that can be drawn using a ruler or compass.  Mechanical or geometric shapes produce a feeling of control or order no matter how simple or complex they are. 
  • Organic Shapes: These shapes are drawn freehand and are more complex and are normally found in nature.  They are free flowing, informal and irregular.  Organic shapes produce a natural feeling.
  • Positive Shapes:  These shapes are the solid forms with in the space.  The wood beams in the photo below create the positive shapes.
  • Negative Shapes:  These shapes are the space around the positive shape or the empty space.  The circles shown in the picture above are negative shapes.
  • Static Shape:  These shapes have the appearance of being stable and at rest.
  • Dynamic Shapes:  These shapes have the appearance of being active and moving.

I feel calm when my life has order so it does not surprise me I feel my commercial and residential design with geometric shapes.  I also love the Mid Century Modern style that uses lots of squares, circles and rectangles along with with simple clean lines.

Shape is a powerful element.  It can be used to create a feeling of control, bring in a natural feeling, calm or motion.


  1. Saw, James. "Design Notes" Palomar College. 
  2. Cindy Kovalik, Ph. D and Peggy M.Ed. "Visual Literacy".

1 comment: