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FREELessons: 18Length: 1.3 hours

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3.1 Shape in Design

As we turn our attention to the concept of shapes, we look at the three main categories of shapes that are used in design: geometric, natural, and abstract. Almost every shape that is used falls into one of these categories, and each has its own use in design.

3.1 Shape in Design

Hello everybody, welcome back to basic design concepts for photographers. This is lesson 3.1 where we take a look at the basic design concept known as shape. There's three main categories of shapes that designers tend to work with. There's the geometric shapes, the natural shapes, and the abstract shapes. We're going to take a look at each of these three categories, talk about what we can expect in them and how they're useful in design. Geometric shapes are the ones that probably first pop into your mind when you hear the word shape. That's these mathematically exact forms that we have specialized names for. Things like circles and squares and triangles. These are shapes that are not generally found naturally, but they do occur quite frequently in architecture and other human made items. They're also very familiar to our eye and we tend to search them out from a chaotic scene. Natural shapes are shapes that are organic and irregular, but recognizable. These would be shapes that are not mathematically defined but still very familiar to our eye. Things like leaves on a tree, or a bird, or even the human form. And then abstract shapes are stylized or simplified versions of natural shapes. These are often found on signs and logos. Illustrators and designers tend to spend a lot of time studying the natural shapes and figuring out how to develop abstract shapes from them so that the shapes are still recognizable as those objects. That includes identifying the critical features of a shape so it still communicated as that shape. And that touches on, really, the whole point of what makes a shape a shape. That's the idea that it's a recognizable object simply by the form or contour of it. A shape doesn't require any other visual information to communicate what it is and that's what makes it so ideal for the use in logo design. Not only do shapes carry with them a sense of familiarity to us, but the way they're constructed also like any other design element, carries a sense of mood or emotion with it. Smooth curves usually feel more comfortable and softer. Circles tend to convey a sense of unity and harmony and feel whole and are very comfortable. Where as shapes with harder corners and more angular lines, like squares and rectangles and triangles, would convey more of a sense of aggression or power. Squares also tend to be very comfortable to us, there's many things in the world that are square-ish in shape, so designers tend to use that to convey a sense of familiarity and trust. Layout artists tend to make good use of geometric shapes. If they're not necessarily explicit, they're implied with their layouts. Whereas abstract shapes are the joy of a logo designer. They tend to work them into letter forms, and even consider using them as negative space. Creative use of abstract shapes is the lifeblood of a good logo designer. Now that we've seen how graphic artists, illustrators, and designers use shapes in their own designs, lets move on to lesson 3.2, and talk about how this applies to photography.

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