Line Unit

The Major Projects for this Unit are:
Line Design
Gesture Poster
Contour Drawing
Hatching Drawing (also within the Value Unit)

A line is an identifiable path created by a point moving in space. It is one-dimensional and can vary in width, direction, and length. Lines often define the edges of a form. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, straight or curved, thick or thin. They lead your eye around the composition and can communicate information through their character and direction.

5 types of lines:

5 variations of line:
Degree of Curve

Line Psychology
HORIZONTAL- Calm/ Still/ Restful
VERTICAL- Strong/ Dignity/Tall
CURVED- Feminine/ Soft
DIAGONAL- Movement
ZIG-ZAG- Action

Horizontal lines suggest a feeling of rest or repose because objects parallel to the earth are at rest. In this landscape, horizontal lines also help give a sense of space. The lines delineate sections of the landscape, which recede into space. They also imply continuation of the landscape beyond the picture plane to the left and right.
Landscape with a Calm, Nicholas Poussin, 1650–1651

Landscape with a Calm, Nicholas Poussin, 1650–1651

Vertical lines often communicate a sense of height because they are perpendicular to the earth, extending upwards toward the sky. In this church interior, vertical lines suggest spirituality, rising beyond human reach toward the heavens.
Saint Bavo, Haarlem, Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, 1634
Saint Bavo, Haarlem, Pieter Jansz. Saenredam, 1634

Diagonal lines convey a feeling of movement. Objects in a diagonal position are unstable. Because they are neither vertical nor horizontal, they are either about to fall or are already in motion. The angles of the ship and the rocks on the shore convey a feeling of movement or speed in this stormy harbor scene.
In a two-dimensional composition, diagonal lines can also indicate depth through perspective. These diagonal lines pull the viewer visually into the image. For example, in this photograph the diagonal lines lead the eye into the space to the point where the lines converge.

A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast, Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1767
A Storm on the Mediterranean Coast, Claude-Joseph Vernet, 1767
img_holmes.jpgFifth Avenue Looking South from Thirtieth Street, attributed to Silas A. Holmes, about 1855

The curve of a line can convey energy. Soft, shallow curves recall the curves of the human body and often have a pleasing, sensual quality and a softening effect on the composition. The edge of the pool in this photograph gently leads the eye to the sculptures on the horizon.
Sharply curved or twisted lines can convey turmoil, chaos, and even violence. In this sculpture, the lines of the contorting bodies and the serpent help convey the intensity of the struggle against the snake's stranglehold.

img_atget.jpg Pool, Saint-Cloud, Eugène Atget, 1915–1919
img_foggini.jpg Laocoön, Giovanni Battista Foggini, about 1720

When repeated, lines can create a pattern. In this example, the artist repeated different kinds of lines across the composition to create various patterns. Patterned lines also give the image rhythm.

The arrangement of elements in a work of art. All works of art have an order determined by the artist. Composition creates a hierarchy within the work, which tells the viewer the relative importance of the imagery and elements included.