Design Focus Friday – Form

Three dimensional shape and space is the basis of architecture and most designed objects. There are added design considerations in that the object will be experienced from more than one side. In sculpture the space defined by the shape of the sculpture may be an important aspect of the total design. Other designed objects such as furniture, tools, and appliances must be conceived in relation to function and, often, the contours of the human body that will use the object. In needle felting this pin cushion, I used the familiar shape of a pumpkin but needed to make sure that it would sit flat on the table and was stable enough not to tip over every time I pull a pin out or stick one in.

Fashion designers face special problems of engineering and spatial thinking, in that the problem is to translate a two dimensional material (cloth) into a three dimensional form (body-shaped garment), a unique and complex problem in topographical engineering. This is one of the things I want to explore in form, making a seamless felted jacket. Hopefully, I will get this started this month since we are talking about form.

Form or space in a two-dimensional drawing or painting refers to the arrangement of objects on the picture plane.  The picture plane is the surface of your drawing paper or canvas.  You can have a picture plane that is a crowded space with lots of objects or an empty space with very few objects in the picture plane.  A two-dimensional piece of art has heights and width but no depth.  The illusion of depth can be achieved by using perspective.  This is the technique used to have your picture look like it is moving to the distance like a landscape or cityscape. 
Types of Perspective

• Nonlinear Perspective is the method of showing depth that incorporates the following techniques. This is the type of perspective I usually use. I couldn’t find any photos using linear perspective.

o Position-Placing an object higher on the page makes it appear farther back then objects placed lower on the page.

o Overlapping-When an object overlaps another object it appears closer to the viewer, and the object behind the object appears farther away.

o Size Variation-Smaller objects look farther away in the distance. Larger objects look closer.

o Color-Bright colors look like they are closer to you and neutral colors look like they are farther away. 

 • Linear Perspective is the method of using lines to show the illusion of depth in a picture. The following are types of linear perspective.

o One-point perspective-When lines created by the sides of tables or building look like that are pointing to the distance and they all meet at one point on the horizon this is one-point perspective. To see an example stand in the middle of the hallway and look at the horizontal lines in the brick or the corner where the ceiling meets the wall. See how they move to one point on the horizon.

o Two-point perspective-Here the lines look like they are meeting at two points on the horizon line.

Categories of Space/Form

• Positive space-Like in a positive shape, it is the actual sculpture or building.

• Negative space-Also like negative shape, it is the space around the sculpture or building.

• Picture Plane is the flat surface of your drawing paper or canvas.

• Composition is the organization and placement of the elements on your picture plane.

• Focal Point is the object or area you want the viewer to look at first.


Questions to get you started:

• How can you make your 2 dimensional designs look more 3D? What are the effects of shading and shadowing on an object or shape?

• How can you use value changes to imply form?

• What steps do you need to take to make a 3D object using fabric/fiber? What can you use to make your form sturdy enough to support itself? What will your pattern look like?

• What would the effects be if you chose to do the opposite of nonlinear perspective guidelines above? Would your piece be more realistic or less?

So have fun with form! Let me know if you are using any of these concepts in your work. I’d love to see what you are doing.


One thought on “Design Focus Friday – Form

  1. I have seen some pieces done with depth and shadows, but I think my brain goes towards folk art and naive. I start out with a more detailed idea, then it turns into folk art;)Debbie

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