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The role of shapes in graphic design

14 December, 2010

Shapes are another basic element in graphic design. They pertain to the figures and forms that are geometric, organic or abstract making up all the other elements in design.

Geometric shapes like squares, triangles and circles have certain meanings that define the graphic design. Circles represent eternity because they have no beginning or end. They likewise represent free movement, but are also widely used to protect and restrict. Squares and rectangles mean stability, honesty, security and equality, among other things. But because of their familiarity, they are not used to grab attention. Triangles suggest movement, action, tension and aggression. They mean stability when standing on their base and instability when not.

Natural shapes take the form of those naturally or organically available in the environment such as trees, birds and rivers. When applied in graphic design, natural shapes are rather interesting and thematic. A basic shape like a round or a square can become more dramatic if they were adorned with leaves or flowers.

Abstract shapes, although designed in unfamiliar language, is universally read by the audience. This is because abstract shapes are fashioned or styled with the purpose of simplifying natural shapes. Graphic design is never without the presence of abstract shapes, which can easily be spotted in vehicles, restrooms, escalators, websites, etc. Common examples are those icons that represent people with disability, male and female.

When used properly, shapes can successfully create an outstanding and effective graphic design. The mood and message of the design may be enhanced by altering its shape in terms of form, colour and size. Shapes may be soft, curved, rounded, angled or sharp, and each conveys a different type of mood or emotion. They may used in a variety of ways, such as to organise, connect or separate elements and content. Shapes may also symbolise or represent a concept, create movement, provide depth or texture, and a lot more.

Shape creation has become much easier and faster these days with the help of modern graphic design tools. Designers today can create, transform and modify unique designs through the application of graphics software like Adobe Illustrator. These computer programs help designers create and manipulate simple and complex shapes with the mere click and drag of the mouse or pen. The colours, textures, patterns and opacity of the shapes can also be transformed to get the desired results for the graphic design. Mastery of the design programs is a must if designers were to make the best out of them.

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