An image of a broken heart can be chosen to indicate just that, a broken heart, often from a relationship that has dissolved but there are many other reasons for receiving the image as well.
A broken heart can serve a metaphor for hardships that have been endured in life that have left one with trauma or scars, physically, mentally, or emotionally. It can also be a representation of a tough and unyielding personality, a warning to others that the individual is not soft or malleable.
Broken hearts can be designed in a variety of ways. The most common is a traditional heart shape, colored red, with a jagged line running down through the middle of the heart to simulate a crack. This can hold a number of meanings but is commonly a symbol of pain or suffering which serves as a reminder to the individual of the event that caused the trauma, a warning to not repeat past mistakes.
The addition of stitches or bandages can be added to the crack in the center of the heart, indicating that the wound has been mended or is currently mending. In other designs, the heart can be shattered into many pieces that are still imaged together to show the shape of the heart or can be crumbling from the bottom, demonstrating the degradation of the heart.
The heart can be colored in any way and an ombré shade can be used where a color fades from dark to light or it can be rendered in black and white. Other details like tear drops, chains, angel or butterfly wings can be added to either side of the heart or banners that showcase names, dates, or phrases. Arrows, knives, swords, and other weapons are sometimes added, injected into the heart, to signify intense pain.
Atomically correct hearts can be used as well with tears introduced into the design. Blood is often added to emphasize the realism of the image.