Meaning of shapes

How do you feel when you see a circle? A square? A triangle?


Shapes have a lot of characteristics, each communicating different messages to your audience.


In most of my illustrations I use basic shapes because I feel they are simple and strong at the same time.


What are the different types of shapes?


There are 3 basic types of shapes:

  • Geometric shapes are the most known shapes. Circles, squares, triangles, diamonds are geometric and regular. This regularity suggests organization, efficiency and structure.
  • Natural/Organic shapes are irregular. They have more curves and for this reason they tend to be pleasing and comforting.  They are asymmetrical and transmit feelings of spontaneity, they add interest and reinforce themes.
  • Abstract shapes have a recognizable form, but they are not real. They are stylized or simplified versions of organic shapes.  Icons, for example, are abstract shapes to represent ideas and concepts.


As you might have noticed the shape I prefer is the circle. I love they can transmit this sense of hospitality for who is inside but, at the same time, they can transmit the opposite if you are outside.


What are their different meanings?


Circles have no beginning or end.  They suggest completeness.

They are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. Their movement suggests energy while their completeness suggests the infinite.

They protect and restrict at the same time: they offer safety.

Squares and rectangles are stable. They’re familiar and trusted shapes and suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality.

Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent dynamic tension, action, and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength.

Spirals are expressions of creativity.  Spirals move in either directions and represent returning to the same point on life’s journey.

In my “Project” (below) illustration I built the two characters around a single shapes, the heart. You might notice it (or not) but the message is transmitted also thanks to this simple shape.



Why do I use simple shapes?


I use simple shapes for my illustrations because they enable me to set a limit and push through it. It allows me to stylised my characters and be more relaxed with proportions or the “anatomy rules”.

Absurdly I feel freer and I enjoy more putting shapes limits because otherwise I would put too much attention on drawing the “right” proportions and anatomy. 


What shapes do you prefer?  Please, let me know in the comments!


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