Geometry, the study of shapes and their properties, is all around us. Think back to your childhood days playing with toys in the sandbox. One of the first things we teach children is how to recognize shapes. The ability to discern basic shapes is an essential part of human development, because they are the building blocks of the visual world and thus, graphic design. In this article, we’re going to discuss geometric shapes as a design element, and then try our hand creating our own patterns using the Shape Mask tool in the PicsArt app

What Is Geometric Design?

Geometric shapes on a photo of a girl

We’re taught about simple geometric shapes like circles and squares from such a young age that they can seem a bit elementary. Though designing with geometry can seem basic, it can yield incredibly complicated art! But let’s start at the beginning. What are shapes? Geometric shapes are two-dimensional, boundaried areas in a composition. Often, we use lines to designate a shape’s border, but simply changing a property, like color, can also be an effective visual indicator of where one shape ends and another begins. 

Geometric design is work that utilizes shapes as its basic building blocks, which often combine to form beautifully intricate geometric patterns, and even other, more complicated shapes. This definition is intentionally vague. As we’ll see, a smorgasbord of styles comprise what one might consider geometric shape design. But before putting pen to paper (or finger to screen!), here’s a quick primer on what constitutes a geometric shape. 

What Are the Geometric Shapes?

There is an entire, vibrant field of mathematics devoted to the taxonimization of geometric shapes, but let’s start with the ever-wondrous circle. Circles are a shape that has no corners or edges. All points in a circle’s border are the same distance from its center. Stretching circles one way or another will create new shapes, like ellipses, or any number of irregular forms. 

Next, we have polygons, which are a family of geometric shapes made up of lines without any curves. Within this category, there’s a lot to work with! Polygons can be determined based on the number of lines and angles they contain. Triangles, for example, are a three-sided polygon. Quadrilaterals, four-sided. Pentagons, five. Hexagons, six, and so on ad infinitum! Another way of categorizing polygons is based on their “regularity.” We use the word regular to describe polygons whose sides and angles are all of an equal length, like squares. 

Within the polygonal shapes, quadrilaterals, which have four, straight sides, are a particularly interesting bunch. This includes everything from squares, which are “regular” and have four right angles and equal sides; to rectangles, which have four right angles, but only opposite sides are equal; rhombuses, where all sides are equal and opposite sides are parallel, but only opposite angles are equal, and the list goes on. 

If it’s not clear yet, the possibilities are literally endless, particularly when you get around to combining geometric shapes to form stunning geometric patterns! Which shapes you choose to inform these patterns will ultimately determine what vibe you’re going for, as different shapes can make us feel different things. Keep this in mind as you brainstorm for things like logo design, poster design, or any number of other graphic design tasks. 

How Is Geometry Used in Design?

Circle shape of a tropical photo

Geometry is a piece of the design process that many graphic designers tend to take for granted. But many artists will tell you that the building blocks of even their most intricate works are simply the combination of the most basic geometric shapes. Take figure drawing, for example, which often starts out with artists sketching circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles as reference points on the page before filling them in with finer details.

More recently, it’s become quite popular to emphasize the more abstract, geometric quality of shapes to create work that is bold and stands out. Often, this is achieved by arranging shapes into geometric patterns. This can be tedious work. Fortunately, with PicsArt, you can create your own geometric patterns in a jiffy thanks to the Shape Mask tool!

How Do You Create a Geometric Pattern Using PicsArt?

Geometric shapes

  1. Open the PicsArt app and click the + button to upload your first image. 
  2. Once you’re in the Photo Editor, scroll the bottom menu to the right until you see the Shape Mask tool. There are so many beautiful geometric shape patterns to choose from! Select whichever one suits your fancy. 
  3. Next, you have the option to adjust certain settings, like Opacity. Use your finger to slide the Opacity scale to the right or the left. This will affect the contrast between the background of your image and the pattern itself. 
  4. You will also have the option to change the background image and color. To change the background color to a different solid color, select the box labeled Bg Color. If you want to substitute the background image with something from your personal gallery, or one of PicsArts beautiful stock backgrounds, you can do that by clicking the box labeled Bg pattern. 
  5. Next — and this is perhaps the coolest feature — by clicking the little icon to the right of the background pattern button, you can switch your background image with the image on your Shape Mask. This can have a really cool effect, depending on the image in your background. Give it a try! To undo this step, just click the icon a second time.
  6. Once you’re happy with your edit, click Apply. And voila! 

Using Geometric Shapes and Patterns in Your Designs

Geometric shapes on a photo of a guy

Incorporate Real-Life Imagery

It’s easy to see how geometric shape designs can quickly become abstract art in graphic design. After all, it can be difficult to parse out elementary shapes from the incredibly complex imagery that makes up much of the visual field in the real world. But that doesn’t mean all of your geometric patterns have to be abstract. Challenge yourself to recreate, in mural-esque fashion, images from real life in your designs using only geometric shapes, things like landscapes, portraits, and still lifes!

Create Backgrounds

Perhaps the most straightforward way to experiment with shapes is to combine them to form patterned backgrounds, which can be as simple or as complex as you like. Once you’ve settled on a pattern, you may end your journey there. Or, you can use that pattern to form the backdrop to another image, playing with features like color, transparency, etc to achieve a desired aesthetic.

Experiment With Shadows

As we mentioned earlier, a shape is a two-dimensional area of a composition, but where does one shape end and the other begin? It’s a question that can get quite philosophical. While we often use lines to designate the boundaries of shapes, there are other methods, like changing colors, or gradients. You can have a lot of visual tricks with this one!

Now that you’ve had a quick primer, it’s time to give it a whirl! How do you see geometric shapes in your designs? Start your creation on PicsArt, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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