While many successful interior decorators, therapists and artists know that different colors can have varied and profound effects on the moods of their observers, fewer people probably think about the different effects that certain shapes and patterns can have on the overall sense of the space they inhabit. Having a keen sense of which patterns or shapes are most appropriate for achieving your desired effect can elevate your space or commercial printing project from the ordinary to the captivating, and leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits your space or reads your publication. The following suggestions for harmoniously blending color and shape to enhance the impact of both are simply some starting points for what is ultimately a fine and subtle art form of design.
Shape and color share the power to define the character of a space, be it an inhabitable one such as a kitchen or a simply the back flap of an informative brochure. Like color, shape can suggest deeply primal themes. Subtle and effective use of this force of suggestion to align the viewer’s feelings with the ultimate goal of a publication is seen at the highest levels of commercial printing. An informative and persuasive pamphlet advertising a recycling company, for example, would do well to feature an arrow moving circularly to indicate the cycle and process at the very nature of their services.
Consider how the commonly understood symbol for recycling, three green arrows chasing one another in circularity, combines a suggestive shape (one of literal and visible cycling) with a message enhancing color, green, which conjures images of Earth, natural harmony, and healthy plants, in order to transmit its overall message. As neither the color green alone, nor a simple unbroken circle alone, could so effectively communicate the combined ideas suggested by the actual recycling symbol, the very power of the successful synergy of color and shape is seen here.
In order to harness this communicative power, it is first necessary to clearly define the goals of your project. Let’s say the order of the day is to design an advertising pamphlet for a new local gym specializing in weight loss and body transformation programs. If the first concepts that come to mind are energizing and inspiring colors, you’re on the right track. Certain shades of orange, yellow, red and green can all evoke sentiments of positive energy, progress, and initiative.
Opt for bold and sharp shades in this instance, remembering that washed out or softened colors could be counterproductive for this particular application. Once your shades are chosen, it’s time to think lines and curves. Alternating sharp straight lines, for informational or text boxes, with curvy but thin shapes in dynamic arrangements to suggest action, motion or dance, is a good start toward giving your readers a quick visual overview of the overall message. Sluggish, dark colors or wide, rounded shapes, on the other hand, would certainly be a poor choice for this particular commercial printing project, but finding the right blends of colors that pop and lines that slide gracefully would be essential to an effective synergy.