Can computers be turned into usable devices to communicate imagined 3D shapes? Can digital design be enhanced to provide the public with user-friendly freeform modeling tools, as well as enabling skilled artists to express any complex shape they can think of? These are the questions the authors address in this lecture. Centering their analysis on the different ways to control shapes provides a non-standard viewpoint of the field of digital shape modeling. It also helps to investigate why, despite more than thirty years of effort towards the development of new surface representations and of algorithms to edit them, most artist first sketch or sculpt in the real world before using a computer.