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Organic shapes are figures that have a natural look and a flowing, curving appearance. Different from geometric shapes, they are often also referred to as curvilinear or free form shapes, as they can be made of angles, curves or both. Examples are found in leaves, plants, and animals. This type of design appears primarily in landscaping, engineering and art. Although problems do exist in creating them, technology is positively changing the way people make these figures.
Difference from Geometric Shapes
Organic shapes are not the same as geometric shapes. They generally don't have measurements that are uniform or perfect. From a practical standpoint, this makes it much more mathematically complex to calculate measurements such as area and volume.
Another key difference between organic shapes and geometric shapes is that organic shapes typically are not made by people, except in a handful of fields. They are found in the natural environment and in living things. Geometric shapes, by contrast, can be either made by individuals or appear naturally. A wall of a house, for instance, usually is square or rectangular, and honeycombs have a hexagonal pattern.
Positive and Negative
Free form figures may be positive or negative, similar to geometric ones. Positive means that the shape has something inside of it, such as the irregular image of a face where two eyes are drawn in. Negative means that only the outline is complete and that the figure is empty.
Even though free form figures are different than geometric ones, they can appear together, such as in art. When attempting to create a piece that looks natural, flowing, soft, peaceful, or calming, organic patterns are generally the shapes of choice. To create a sense of chaos, anger or rigidity, the artist might lean toward geometric forms. Sometimes an artist will use a geometric image to create abstract interpretations of things that normally would be depicted as organic. Artists usually outline these shapes lightly in order to make sure the designs are right before filling them in with darker pencil or paint.
People also often use organic figures in gardening and landscaping. These types of shapes work well for this because their lack of linearity gives a more natural, blended look to the yard or garden. Landscapers can achieve an organic style either by how they design elements like trim, ponds and general layout, or they can get the organic feel with the specific plants they pick. It is best to plan out the design with a rubber hose to make sure it looks natural before permanently installing brickwork or planting flowers.
Engineers also make use of free form patterns, although the finished product might have a more geometric base to it. An example might be a grip on a cane or golf club that is irregularly shaped to fit ergonomically in the hand. The ability to use irregular figures means that engineers can be much more creative and artistic even if they are solving formal problems such as how to make a building stronger.
Organic shapes, whether used in art or in landscaping, can be difficult to create. A curving or flowing line that curves too far can look man-made and detract from the natural look. This makes patterns of this style somewhat time consuming to make.
Whereas geometric shapes provide clear guidelines for how a person should construct them, there is no set pattern for how to make an organic one. This gives a person a lot of flexibility in terms of how he designs and what he can create, but it also makes it challenging to describe or precisely recreate an organic pattern that is already made. Descriptions tend to rely more on comparisons or the impressions someone gets from looking at the shape, not mathematical equations or numbers. This is an issue because impressions and comparisons are somewhat objective and are largely based on a person's unique experiences.
The New Role of Technology
Technology is addressing some of the issues with making natural-looking organic shapes. Developers are making computer aided design (CAD) programs for areas such as graphic design that use complex codes and algorithms to generate images that look free form. These programs are very useful in normally geometric fields like architecture, because they can calculate how stable the organic structure would be if physically built, giving designers an efficient way to save money and keep workers safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly are organic shapes in art and design?
Organic shapes are forms that are typically irregular, asymmetrical, and resemble the naturally occurring shapes found in nature. Unlike geometric shapes, which have precise lines and angles, organic shapes are free-form, fluid, and often complex. They can evoke a sense of spontaneity and life, as they are reminiscent of the shapes found in plants, animals, and other living things. Organic shapes are used in art and design to create a more natural and relaxed feel, often bringing a sense of comfort and familiarity to the viewer.
How do organic shapes influence the feel of a design or artwork?
Organic shapes can significantly influence the mood and atmosphere of a design or artwork. They tend to convey a sense of harmony, movement, and vitality, which can make a space feel more dynamic and inviting. The use of organic shapes often leads to a perception of warmth and approachability, as they mimic the imperfect and variable forms found in the natural world. This can create a contrast with the rigidness of geometric shapes, offering a more relaxed and human-centric aesthetic.
Can you give examples of where organic shapes are commonly used?
Organic shapes are commonly used in various fields, including graphic design, interior design, architecture, and fine arts. For instance, in graphic design, they might be used for background patterns or to create logos that have a natural or eco-friendly feel. In interior design, organic shapes are often seen in furniture with natural curves, such as a rounded armchair or an irregularly shaped rug. In architecture, buildings with undulating forms, like those designed by Frank Gehry, exemplify the use of organic shapes. In fine arts, artists like Georgia O'Keeffe are known for their use of organic shapes inspired by nature in their paintings.
Why are organic shapes important in creating visual interest?
Organic shapes are important in creating visual interest because they provide a break from the predictability of geometric forms. Their complex and unique contours can draw the eye and hold attention, making a design stand out. Additionally, because organic shapes are often not symmetrical, they can introduce balance without uniformity, leading to more engaging and dynamic compositions. The natural imperfections and variations in organic shapes can also add depth and texture to a piece, enhancing its overall aesthetic appeal.
How do artists and designers create organic shapes?
Artists and designers create organic shapes by drawing inspiration from the world around them, particularly from elements in nature. They may sketch freehand to capture the essence of these natural forms, or use technology, such as graphic tablets or design software, to manipulate lines and curves organically. Some artists may even incorporate actual natural elements into their work, such as pressing leaves onto canvas or using fluid media that naturally create organic forms. The key is to embrace irregularity and the absence of strict rules to allow for more fluid and natural-looking shapes.