Monday, February 10, 2014

Elements of Art: Form

I'm back with any overview of form today!  I could have discussed form with shape, but to me, they are two distinct elements of art and design.

As an overview, we've talked about line and shape, both of which are pretty well known to anyone who has ever drawn, well, anything!  My oldest son (he's 4) is currently learning about line & shape and it's a joy to watch!

Anyway, form is a little different.  Form is frequently discussed in terms of shape.  Shape is a two-dimensional representation (square, rectangle, circle, etc) and form is a three-dimensional representation.  Some common forms include: sphere (3D circle), pyramid (3D triangle), and the one I use the most - cylinder.

Here's a wonderful illustration of shape and form on Sandy Scott's art blog.

So how do you make a flat image look like it has depth?  There are lots of ways.  Typically, shading of some sort is used.  It can be done using line to create hatching & cross-hatching.  It can be done by blending different colors -- adding shades for shadow and tints for highlights.

And what does this have to do with paper dolls?   Well, a lot of artists focus on creating a sense of realism in their art, and depicting form is one way to do it.  Today I have two sample artists (and you're probably familiar with both of them!)

Liana Kerr, Liana's Paper Dolls

Liana has been creating paper dolls for about a decade, on and off, and her work is amazing.  She used to work in colored pencil and recently made the jump to digital coloring.  Although her colored pencil work is amazing, I absolutely love the new style! I can't even imagine how many hours go into these dolls!  Liana has a strong yet subtle sense of form.  She makes wonderful use of lights and darks to really make the folds of her dresses pop.  And the shading on the face is terrific! She just started this set of dolls, so there aren't a lot of examples of her digital coloring.  Nonetheless, go check out her site.

Tom Tierney

Its' almost impossible to talk about paper dolls without talking about Tom Tierney.  He is the current master of the art, really.  I could use examples of his work every week, but today I thought his use of form would be particularly useful.  His shading is very delicate: there's a shadow here & there, but it isn't everywhere.  And yet it's incredibly effective.  There are thousands of images we could look at, but today I chose an Indian bride.  If you look at the doll, there's no doubt that one leg is in front of the other, and yet there's barely a shadow there to indicate it.  His work is always a beautiful blend of line, shape, and form.

So that's an overview of form.  It's something I know I need to work on a bit, and I hope this helps others, too.

And now -- shameless plug time!

I put together a new paper doll, "When I Grow Up...".  It's a career themed paper doll with one doll and 13 outfits.  I've been working on this doll on and off for years.  I'm finally happy with the way it came out!  This will be my last self-published book for a little while.  I have some bigger projects in the works that I need to focus on.  Anyway, if you want a copy for yourself, it's currently available on  I'm hoping to get all of my dolls on to Amazon in the near future and I'll update when that happens.

Anyway, come back Friday for another new doll!

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