Craftwork Cards Blog

Back to Basics on Design Skills – FORM

Hello and welcome to my third blog in the series looking closely at design skills!

My aim is to take you back to basics, and elaborate on the fundamentals of design. If you have missed the other two parts, you can find them here…

Back to Basics on Design Skills – Introduction / LINE

Back to Basics on Design Skills – SHAPE

Carrying on then, and getting you to really consider these fascinating elements of design. Let us now talk about FORM, and help bring out the designer in you!

What is FORM?

Form defines objects in space. Forms exist in three dimensions, with height, width, and depth. Forms can be viewed from many sides, and take up volume. Form is very similar to shape, apart from the fact it is three dimensional (3D), and not two dimensional (2D). Just like shape, form can be large or small, regular or irregular, and have various varieties…

Geometric forms – These have mathematical descriptions, and are objects such as cubes, spheres, and pyramids.

Organic forms – These forms have less mathematical structure, and are more random, free formed.

Natural forms – As seen in nature and the natural world around us. Forms that have grown, like clouds, mountains and trees. Animals and humans are also natural forms as we are ever changing.

Familiar forms – These shapes can be any of the above, and are easily recognized in our day to day lives, we are in a world surrounded by form, such as buildings, vehicles, and bridges.

Below is a another one of my mind maps, illustrating FORM. With it’s various different types, all drawn by line to look like 3D shapes…



Using form in craft design is very easy if we are making a toy from wood, moulding clay for a pot, bending wire to create jewellery, or even sewing a garment from fabric. Our crafted objects are being formed as we construct them. Paper craft can be trickier to create form, cardboard can help give structure to our projects. Can’t beat a box or two! I’m sure we have all tried forming objects with paper mache back in our school days! When it comes to card making however, more imagination is needed.

Here are a few card designs taking FORM into account…


You could say that a greeting card in it’s self is a FORM, and yes it is! But we need to think about the design for the card. I’m going to cheat a bit here, because I am using LINE to try and give the impression of FORM. A kind of optical illusion, where something looks 3D, but it’s only 2D! Just by drawing these lines straight, and then including a curve at a certain place, raised areas appear! Two rings frame the sentiment in the middle, and my card front is completely flat!




I’ve cheated again! I have actually drawn cubes or boxes to give another FORM effect. This time I’ve placed my caption in the bottom of the middle cube! The key with drawing this design is you must always use a focal point. It is a point on your paper where all lines creating FORM must meet. Here my focal point is right in the centre.





Another kind of optical illusion used regularly on cards, is of course ‘3D decoupage’. This is the art of cutting out elements of varying sizes from a series of identical images and layering them on top of each other using foam pads. Creating depth, and giving FORM to the design. For this card I have made up my own decoupage by using four toppers. Colouring them in, cutting three of them out and layering them up. FORMS always produce shadows, and my purple hollyhocks also now has a shadow.




Well a great example of FORM is making an exploding box card. My example isn’t really exploding that much! I have fussy cut a few timid animals to create a peaceful woodland scene, for a special 50th birthday card.








On this card I have tried to make these sentiment toppers look like birthday presents. Well the bows add FORM. But on opening the card…









… this ‘pop-up’ design looks more like 3D birthday presents! Using pop-ups is another fab way of producing FORM. My effort here is a very simple example of pop-up paper engineering.






This last card shows some birthday cake candles. Just rolled coloured paper into tubes making 3D objects for the front of my card. Simple but effective I think.










A few ideas to there to help you think about FORM in your card designs. Origami is another possibility, as well as making up paper flowers for added 3D decoration. So be creative with your paper, cut it, bend it, and mould it into 3D objects. Add shading or shadow with inks, to give the illusion of FORM.

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog, thank you for joining me, and for any comments you kindly leave. Next time we will talk all about COLOUR!




  1. phillipalewis

    24th March 2017 - 9:27 pm

    Brilliant Sue x
    Compelling as usual,
    Thank You xxx

    • Sue Smith

      16th April 2017 - 3:07 pm

      Arh thanks so much for leaving me a comment Phillipa! So good to hear what readers think. Much appreciated. xXx

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