SHAPE is one element of design and is a very powerful tool in visual communication. When looking at an object or image, shape is the very first retinal impression that the human eye registers before color, texture, space or anything else. Shapes are created by an enclosed area or line. They have length and width. Contours are the outline or outer edge of a shape. SILHOUETTES are shapes that are filled in with a single tone or a color, usually black.