The Language of Shapes

Hello all and welcome to the MabsArts blog, where you can read all sorts of things. From Esoterica, to business, to art tips and tricks. Today we will be discussing a subject dear to my heart, Shape Language in Character Design. Let’s dive right in.

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What is Character Design?

Character design is a branch of art design that encompasses the creation of characters for a specific project.

This includes things like:

  • Creating characters for video games
  • Comic Book Characters
  • Animation
  • Promotional Media

Unlike other branches of art, a character designer focuses on creating a story, giving emotion, and a sense of life to a character through the use of shapes, contrast, and size.

How Does a Character Designer tell a story with shapes?

Character designers understand that shapes are symbols and that like everything in the world a symbol has meaning. Thus things like basic geometric shapes can take a whole new meaning when used in the hands of a character designer.

To better understand how a character designer employs this method of visual story telling we can turn to this example.

Geometric-Organic-and-Abstract How-to-Creatively-Use-Shapes to-Make-Your-Designs-Stand-Out-geometric meanings
Credit to: Visme

‘To begin, there are 3 types of shapes:

Geometric shapes, things such as squares, circles, triangles, ovals, hexagons, etc.

Organic Shapes, foliage, flowers, leaves, etc. Usually these shapes are made of up a lot of curves.

Abstract shapes, things that symbolize something else, like icons, symbols, or abstract representations.

With these basic shape groups in mind we can begin to start thinking about what each shape group can tell us about a character.


The square is a solid shape that we come across on our daily basis. We can see squares or similarly constructed shapes like rectangles in things like buildings, screens, photos. The square is a shape that makes us feel solid, rigid. It is often used to transmit feelings like:

Image result for shape language character design
Credit to Featherless



from Featherless

  • security
  • structure
  • organization

Take a look at Example 1.

Here we can see how the square shape is being used to transmit character traits.

Here are some beautiful examples of shape language in a variety of characters:

Image result for shape language character design
Credit to tarkstuff

Nature Shapes:

Next we have nature shapes. Nature is one of those things in life that can help us release negativity in an almost subconscious level. Characters created with nature as their inspiration tend to be of a joyful nature.

Look at this beautiful example of characters created with fruit shapes as inspiration:

Image result for nature inspired character designs
Credit to ThaibyNature

Notice how they are directly inspired by greenery. Things like vegetables, fruits and flowers. This type of design can be wonderful to use in projects that require that extra earthy sense. Most shapes in nature are very flexible, composes of curves, circles, and ovals.

These geometric shapes are often associated with:

  • unity
  • love
  • peace
  • harmony
  • joy
  • happiness

Abstract Shapes:

Abstract shapes are a very interesting things to experiment with, not only do we see this kind of shape constantly on things like street signs, websites and bathroom signs, but we understand what they mean almost immediately. These shapes help not only to transmit a character trait, but they also serve to transmit a feeling.

Take for example the collection by David Habben, Shapes of Conscious:

shapes of conscious by david habben 121 Shapes of Conscious by David Habbenshapes of conscious by david habben 11 Shapes of Conscious by David Habbenshapes of conscious by david habben 13 Shapes of Conscious by David Habben

In this Collection David takes Abstract Shapes and creates beautiful inked characters with them. Spontaneity, feeling, and love goes into each abstract yet meaningful and powerful design.

Try it out. Next time you are drawing your characters pay attention to their shapes, and what the shape of their design tells to the audience. Whether you experiment with geometric shapes, adding nature shapes to create peace in your designs, or throwing it all at the wall with random abstract shapes. We urge you to share with us what you make down in the comment section below.

We are more than excited to see all your beautiful character designs. I know this post will change the way you see shapes, and I can’t wait to see how that improves and influence your new designs.

Till next time, this was Antonio “Mabs” for the MabsArts blog. Have a good one ❤

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