Shape vs. Form

As you learn to draw or paint, you will soon be introduced to many concepts. One of these concepts is understanding the difference between shape and form. Most beginner artists assume they are the same thing, and while they are related, they are nevertheless different. Here, we discuss the differences between shape and form to help you better understand their distinct characteristics.

Shapesoccer ball sketch

When someone describes the shape of an object, they will use words like “circular”, “rectangular”, “triangular”, and the like. What do circles, rectangles, and triangles all have in common? They are all two-dimensional (flat) objects.  They have a length and width, but no height, and are typically simple figures.


Most objects in the real world are three-dimensional, not two-dimensional. These three-dimensional figures are what we mean when we describe form, and they include objects such as spheres, cubes, and cones. Since they are three-dimensional, they have a length, width, and height.

However, we can only draw in two-dimensional figures. So, how do you create form in artwork? You do so by creating the illusion of three dimensions. This is accomplished through shading and the cast shadow. When you draw a circle, you have drawn a shape. But when you want that circle to have form, you shade it to create the illusion that it is a three-dimensional object.

Now that you understand the differences between shape and form, it’s time for you to start tackling more challenging art projects. At Creative Venture Art Gallery, we offer art classes and workshops for people of all levels. Contact us today to sign up!