Shape Design

shapedesign good vs bad

Do your drawings feel stiff and awkward?
Consider these tips on shape design!

shape design repetitive vs playful
shape design distracting vs simple

shape design flat boring vs livelyshape design tangents vs simpler


Why does this work?
And why does it matter?

These simple rules depend completely on what you are trying to communicate and what you would like your audience to experience. My goal with the examples above is to optimize for “appeal“.

I am using a psychological mechanism called “processing fluency“. We tend to judge something as more appealing (and more positive) if it is easy to understand. This is true for writing, painting, company names, and – shocker – ethnicities. Processing fluency has been used to describe people’s negative attitude towards migrants because they are more difficult to process than non-migrants. Of course, this can backfire, in life and art, and it’s helpful to be aware of this bias.

Alright. Geek hour is over. Now let’s get to work.


Shape Design Practice

A great way to practice is to fill a page with simple shapes.
Here is a round by a student with my annotations and corrections. 
Click the arrows to compare.

Now make your own page of shape studies to train your design sense!


4 thoughts on “Shape Design”

  1. Sublime91
     ·  Reply

    good job! Where can i find some more details about this specific topic ie practices to how a shape can be improved (especially when dealing with hair,smoke,flowing elements etc).Couldnt find anything related to this subject anywhere.

    • Dorian
       ·  Reply

      Hi Sublime91,
      The best teacher is nature.
      The second best teachers are artists whose work has stood the test of time.
      A great practice would be to carefully draw parts of plants that are aesthetically pleasing to you.

  2. PA
     ·  Reply

    Thank you so much Dorian!

    I’ve been struggling with this topic for so long. Shape designing is important, but no one ever explained how you can tell if the shape is good or how to practice making interesting shapes. You made it so simple to understand, thanks a lot!

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