Sunday earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.
Line is Fundamental
As an element of visual art and graphic design, line is perhaps the most fundamental. While you probably already know what a line is, graphic design will define it a little differently than the lines you studied in math class. In art, line is the path a dot takes as it moves through space and it can have any thickness as long as it is longer than it is wide. Not only can a line be a specifically drawn part of your composition, but it can even be an implied line where two areas of color or texture meet. This means that any shapes you use, even if they are not outlined, are bound by lines.
Types of Lines
Lines do not have to be perfectly straight, but if you've ever watched a toddler scribbling, you already knew that. Here are a few types of lines commonly used in art. They are defined by the path they take.
- Vertical Lines: These are perfectly straight lines extending up and down.
- Horizontal Lines: These are also perfectly straight lines, but they extend side to side.
- Diagonal Lines: Again, these are straight lines, but their direction has both a vertical and a horizontal direction.
- Curved Lines: These lines bend so that they are not perfectly straight.
Styles of Lines
In addition to the types of lines, artists and graphic designers use a variety of line styles. Some lines are longer than others, some are thicker than others, while some even change direction in order to zigzag or become wavy lines with curve changes. Check out these interesting style variations.
- Continuous Lines: These are solid lines drawn from one point to another. They can be straight or curvy as long as they do not stop and restart at any point.
- Interrupted Lines: These lines are the opposite of continuous lines. The line's path still exists from one point or another, but there are gaps in the illustration along the way. Two common types of interrupted lines are dotted lines and dashed lines.
- Implied Lines: We mentioned these in the introduction. They are lines that are not drawn but exist at the point where one area of color or texture touches another area of color or texture. Basically, they exist, but they are more like the lines from your math class where they have length, but no width at all.
Graphic designers use lines in the way many other types of artists do, but they also have a number of ways to employ lines that are specific to their line of work.
Traditional Artistic Use of Lines
There are three major ways that artists use lines in their compositions, often in drawing. These all involve how they construct images from lines.
- Contour Line Drawing: In this method, lines are used to outline shapes and draw in details, like a fold in fabric.
- Gestural Line Drawing: This method uses lines to represent motion. Ever see a series of lines behind a running character in a comic book, comic strip, or cartoon?
- Hatching and Cross-hatching: This method uses lines for every part of the image. In hatching, the artist draws a series of parallel lines, creating shading where the lines are grouped closer together. In cross-hatching, the artist draws parallel lines in one direction and a set of lines perpendicular to the first. Again, where the lines are closer together, they create shading.
Graphic Design Uses of Line
In addition to the ways many artists use lines, graphic designers also use lines to help arrange both the images and text in a composition. Lines can help organize information on the page, separating out clusters of words that belong together. We see this in newspapers where columns organize data and sections are separated with lines. Lines can also create a visual effect as decoration when used as borders and dividers. Sometimes, lines are used to emphasize words through underlining. Finally, lines can be the main focus of the composition, not just an accent or decoration.
The thickness, type, and style of a line can also create mood. Straight lines convey order and structure. When they are thick, the straight lines also convey seriousness. Thin lines are subtle and can be elegant. Curvy lines can convey excitement, energy, and fun. They can also be relaxing if they have gentle curves.
Line is the most fundamental element in visual art, representing the direction and movement of a dot or point through space. There are a variety of types and styles of lines. Some lines are straight, while others are curvy. Continuous lines are drawn from one point to another without any break in the line while interrupted lines have breaks resulting in dashed or dotted lines. Implied lines are not actually drawn on the image but exist at the point where one area of color or texture meets another area of color or texture. Graphic designers may use line in traditional artistic ways of contour line drawing, gestural line drawing, hatching, and cross-hatching. They can also use line as a way to organize information and convey a mood. Sometimes, lines are the subject of a composition rather than just an accent.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack