Join Dave Schultze for an in-depth discussion in this video Intro to 2D shapes, part of Design Foundation 3D: Shape and Form.
- We launched our survey of 3D design theory by first reviewing some 2D elements. I'll be calling anything in two dimensions a shape as opposed to the word form, which we will save for three dimensional objects. By this definition, shapes only exist in 2D, but they could still be used to create 3D forms and we'll cover that a little bit later. These could also be three dimensional objects that due to our viewing angular distance, are perceived by our eyes as two dimensional. Even though they are three dimensional, we see far away objects like the sun, moon, and planets, as circular shapes due to their distance form us, the observers.
Like orbits in the space examples, other spinning objects will trace a circular path like these sparkly, fire things. Looking at natural examples a little closer to home, we see circles everywhere. In video of ripples, I was inspired to create this design for one of my first products in design school. Called the ripple frame, it was inspired by this phenomenon of memory, the act of viewing, and the plasticity of time. Yes, I did get dangerously close to poetry. Naturally straight lines are not nearly as common as curves.
But crystals are one place to look for inspiration. The forms seen here contain the best examples of straight lines and squares found in nature. If we deform a straight line, we end up with an arch or a spline curve. As you will see in this course, I'm a big animation nerd, so roll the next clip. In 2D software, like Illustrator, these twisty and bent lines are knows as Bezier curves. The simplest definition I can give is they use adjustable handles with some very tricky math to make a super smooth result.
In 3D software, similar curves are called DSplines, and use a variation of handles. And again, tricky math to make a super smooth curve or surface. In early geometry studies, academics tried to describe the properties and formulas of geometric shapes. In 1728, this table of geometry was published in the Cyclopaedia, the Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. It was in this very first printed encyclopedia in England, but I think that technical hand-drawn illustrations are beautiful artwork in their own right.
Shapes can also be generated by the absence or lack of information. The voids which occupy the negative space in between can sometimes be as compelling as what they replaced. As a kid, I was fascinated by the ability to draw perfect circles and amazing artwork with a toy called Spirograph. It uses an ingeniously simple system, with plastic gears and colored pens, but produces some beautiful stuff that you might never guess came from a five-year-old. If you're feeling the urge to try it out, good news, they're still selling all these years later.
In print and decor, we see this circular motif used in a wide variety of ways, but none more fun than a polka-dot pattern. Now, it can be a single color with exact, precise spacing; it can also be multicolored with a random or energetic patten. Here we see a circular shape with multiple colors and then a spiral pattern. Intense! Along with good examples, it's only fair to give equal time to show the bad or weird. These examples have gone from a background accent to more of a foreground distraction.
In product design, circles can be found everywhere, especially as interface elements, and of course, buttons. That leads us to this early calculator, the Braun ET66. Designed by Dieter Rams in 1981, it is now a design classic, and one of the best examples of modern minimalism. It was so beloved by math and design nerds, it was later re-released and is now back in production. The current one keeps the monochrome treatment, but it's all black now, instead of the prior all-white.
The final example is from furniture. This is the Marshmallow sofa, designed by Irving Harper and George Nelson. It was first produced by Herman Miller in 1956 and is still in production today. Even though these pillows are three-dimensional, where they would not be comfortable, they still read as mostly simple circles. This design was considered ahead of its time, as pop art inspired design did not hit the mainstream for another 10 years. Simple shapes are found everywhere in nature and are very common in design as well.
Why not? They're typically a very efficient way to organize objects and spaces, and done well, help make for a very strong clarity of purpose.
First, see how the same idea can be applied in a smaller 2D scale—like graphics and print, fine art, and advertising. Dave then blows it up in 3D, and showcases examples from product design, furniture, architecture, and urban planning.
Projects and concepts are presented in an engaging and sometimes irreverent manner with images, videos, and personal and professional stories from Dave. Check out this fast-paced tour as it covers topics ranging from grids and axes to designing with humor.
- Design exploration with sketching
- 3D exploration with organic forms
- Grids and axes
- Defining space
- Color and contrast
- Texture and patterns
- Minimalism. Less is more.
- Retro. It's back!