Shape is one of the basic elements of design. Alone or in combination with other shapes or lines they can convey universal meanings as well as guide the eye or organize information. The three basic types of shapes are geometric, natural, and abstract. Geometric shapes are structured, often symmetrical shapes. These include squares, circles, and triangles but also octagons, hexagons, and cones.
Natural shapes are found in nature or they can be manmade shapes. Leaves are an example of a natural shape. An ink blob is a natural shape. Natural shapes are often irregular and fluid.
Abstract shapes are stylized or simplified versions of natural shapes. Symbols found on signs, such as the stylized wheelchair shape for handicapped access, is one example.
For the purposes of this class we'll focus on the three basic geometric shapes of squares (and rectangles), circles, and triangles but lesson 4 will also briefly address natural and abstract shapes.
Keep an eye out for brochures, ads, newsletters, graphics, logos, and other print projects that include shapes of all kinds. You'll refer to these examples in some of the lessons in this class. Look for both items with physical shapes outside the norm (circles and triangles, especially) as well as shapes within the design used within logos or as graphic elements in the piece.
In Shapes Lesson 1 we'll look at the appearance of squares and recentanges. In Shapes Lesson 2 we'll see what a circle can do in design. Then in Shapes Lesson 3 we'll look at the use and meaning of triangles. For Shapes Lesson 4 we'll look at the practical application of squares, circles, and triangles and other natural and abstract shapes in various desktop publishing projects.
Now, on to the lessons on shape as an element of design.
Next > Lesson 1 - Squares