Form, Shape & Space

Form and shape are areas or masses that define objects in space. Form and shape imply space; indeed they cannot exist without space.

Shapes or forms can be created from line, value (the relative lightness or darkness of a color) or strong contrasts in value within a composition may define the boundaries of forms. Gradations of value, or shading, can also create the illusion of contour and volume.

In the same way, hue contrasts and gradations can also define forms. Form may also be defined by change in texture, even when hue and value remain essentially consistent. However, most typically, form is defined by a combination of these factors, as is a peacock’s plumage

All brand symbols or icons are forms or shape.

There are various ways to categorize form and shape. Form and shape can be thought of as either two dimensional or three dimensional. Two dimensional form has width and height. It can also create the illusion of three dimension objects. Three dimensional shape has depth as well as width and height.

Form and shape can also be described as either organic or geometric.

Organic forms typically are irregular in outline, and often asymmetrical and are most often thought of as naturally occurring. On the other hand, geometric forms are those which correspond to named regular shapes, such as squares, rectangles, circles, cubes, spheres, cones, and other regular forms.

If we can recognize every day objects and environments, we refer to the images as being realistic, or naturalistic. However, if the images are difficult or impossible to identify in terms of our normal, daily visual experience, we may refer to the images as abstract.  Generally, abstractions are “abstracted” or derived from realistic images – perhaps even distorted–, but perhaps in such a way that the source is not immediately apparent. An example of this would be the Apple logo. This kind of abstraction in art is sometimes referred to as an objective image — that is, it is derived from an actual object. On the other hand, some abstract art images are based on a pure study of form, line, and color, and do not refer to any real-world object or scene. such art works are sometimes referred to as non-objective images.


Three dimensional shape has an expressive vocabulary similar to that of line. This obviously follows, since line is always implied by the contours of shapes.

Rectilinear shapes suggest stability.

Angular shapes placed diagonally in relation to gravity suggest instability.

Softly curved shapes suggest quiet, comfort, and sensuality.

The character of the space around a shape or form can distract, focus, or alter our impression. A cluttered background tends to diminish the importance of the object, while a plain background draws attention to it. Google’s home page is free of unnecessary distractions and draws attention to the search box by by simply utilizing lots of white space. Your eye is immediately drawn to where it should be: the search box.

Retailers can creatively utilize form, shape and space to come up with store layouts that effectively attract the attention of customers. You can direct the line of sight of your customers to where you want by allowing ample space around. The eyes is quick to take in any object that has a generous amount of  empty space around it. A typical Apple store is an example of creative use of space ; most packages are below eye level and only a few products are on display. You are not bombarded by signs, posters and myriads of messages that can leave you confused.

A powerful message is often times communicated when a lot of space is used to draw attention to the most important form or shape of a composition. No confusion whatsoever for the individual for whom the message is meant.


One response to “Form, Shape & Space

  1. Pingback: Like ABC… | Toyeens·

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