Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Shape and Form

Shape vs Form

What is a form and what is a shape? Well, it can easily be explained by saying that “sphere” is to “form” while “circle” is to “shape.” Yes, this is basically true. But to architects and those who master formal art, there are many other elements and concepts to consider.

“Form” and “shape” define objects situated in space. The basic difference, though, between “shape” and “form” is that “form” is in 3D while “shape” is plain 2D. The latter is simply defined by lines. “Shape” is thus described by virtue of how many sides it has and to some degree by its angular relations. There is a clear and well-defined border. Conversely, “form” details further (although vague) the area bordered by the lines created.

With this, a 2D shape has the basic dimensions of length and width while a 3D form has a third dimension on top of the length and width – the height. Talking about a form is simply taking any 2D shape into its 3D form like how you take the example above or a triangle thereby making it into a cone. Forms are the 3D equivalents of shapes. There are many other examples like how the shape square is pitted against its cube equivalent, and the list still goes on.

Another difference between the elements of form and shape is where you see them. When you see typical art drawn on simple drawing, printing, or painting surface, you immediately see shapes. A form is different because it is used to describe the elements seen in metal works, pottery, and sculpture among many others. As such, forms exist outside the confines of a flat paper or canvas space.

Despite all these differences, shapes and forms are often confused with each other because these elements are often seen to convey the same moods, traits, and expressions (either negative or positive).


1.Shapes are the most basic figures like rectangles, circles, triangles, and squares while forms are the more complex structures like sphere, cube, cone, etc.
2.Shapes are in 2D (have length and width) while forms are in 3D (have length, width, and height).
3.Shapes are described depending on the number of its sides and to some degree its angular relationship. Forms are described by virtue of the area of space bordered by the lines.
4.Shapes are far simpler figures compared to the more complex forms.
5.Shapes exist in the space of flat and simple drawings, printings, and painting surfaces while forms exist beyond the space of shapes.

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