Entry 26/09/2016

Shape Language:

“Shape Language” is a phrase used by Good Blood’s YouTube channel. In this

example to explain how we, the player, have certain emotional responses to

three primary shapes, Circles, Squares and Upright (Javed Sterritt. 2016) .  He

references how Crash bandicoot’s triangular shape gives rise to certain aspects

of his personality Figure1.(Nibrocrock. 2016), mainly his wildness and insanity.

While the other primary forms, firstly  the square created a sense of

stubbornness and dogged in the way of life, with the circle implying a sense of

roundness and friendliness which warms you to its presence. The knowledge

from this example has given me thought for when it comes to projecting an

individual response, and how shapes can play a subconscious role in that.


Figure 1: Crash Bandicoot (Nibrocrock. 2016)

Looking further into the human psychology reasoning behind why we

experience certain emotional responses when we look at different shapes, I

found an interesting paper on the subject (Xin Lu. 2016). It sets out to see if

there is a correlation between the shapes we visualise and the emotions that

they produce. It explores the differencing characteristics of an emotional

“Simplicity, complexity, roundness and angularity” in the process in an attempt

to quantify this to distinguish strong emotional images from what it calls

neutral/weak images(An image which provides a feeble emotional response)

The paper draws on how the complexity/simplicity of a picture can be made up

from underlining factors such as the orientation, length and thickness of a line

segment.  They demonstrate with differing images using mixed values of the

above-stated factors to evoke a different response.  They conclude that

Horizontal lines project “peace and calm” while vertical lines a sense of

“strength and powerfulness”. This could be the reasoning behind why wartime

propaganda posters always project a soldier, a woman at work in a secure

upright vertical position. It gives the person looking at the poster that

the emotional response to inner strength and intrinsically linked motivation to

keep fighting.


Figure 2 : Horizontal/Vertical Lines (Xin Lu. 2016)

Further examples I can find to support angularity can be provided through one

of the biggest sci-fi films to date, Star Wars. Not only is the Imperial star

destroyer highly angular in shape Figure 3. (Vignette1. 2016), being a triangle,

But also is Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle Figure 4.(EGPJET3D. 2016). The

angular shapes emit this evil, dangerous and very ominous feeling whenever

they are shown on screen.


Figure 3: Star Destroyer (Vignette1. 2016)


Figure 4: Imperial Shuttle (EGPJET3D. 2016)

Proportion is also something that can affect a player’s perception. Larger or

smaller can add or take away levels of perceived threat, stability, friendliness

from any of the three primary shapes. Using the star destroyer example,

increasing the size of the angular structure will only add to the sense of

foreboding. Michael Wiesmeier’s tutorial on Shape Psychology

(Michael Wiesmeier. 2016Also mentions how it’s okay to merge two

primary shapes together, with the benefit of sub-consciously to the player,

combining the shapes perceived responses together. He uses the example of

R2-D2, which is the addition of square and circle. With is response being

friendly, stable and one to rely on. These three references I’ve come across have

been useful in my understanding how our brain is subconsciously perceiving

different shapes and what emotional responses we should be feeling. It’s

certainly something I’m going to account for when it comes to the design stage.



EGPJET3D. (2016). kylo rens ship 3d model. [online] Available at: http://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/kylo-rens-ship-3d-model/1000185 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2016].

Lu, X. (2016). On Shape and the Computability of Emotions. [online] Available at: http://infolab.stanford.edu/~wangz/project/imsearch/Aesthetics/ACMMM2012/lu.pdf [Accessed 26 Sep. 2016].

Nibrocrock. (2016). [online] Available at: http://img04.deviantart.net/cdd7/i/2015/183/3/f/crash_bandicoot_render_by_nibroc_rock-d8znio5.png [Accessed 26 Sep. 2016].

Sterritt, J. (2016) [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sbUdMNIG20 [Accessed 26 Sep. 2016].

Vignette1. (2016). [online] Available at: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/disney/images/a/a8/ImpStarDestroyer-SWI125.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20121223231202 [Accessed 26 Sep. 2016].

Wiesmeier, W. (2016). Shape Psychology. [online] Available at: https://www.toonboom.com/resources/video-tutorials/video/shape-psychology [Accessed 26 Sep. 2016].