Elements of Design: Line

Line is defined as a mark that spans a distance between two points or the path of a moving point. It can take any form from end to end. A line is one-dimensional and can vary in width, direction, and length. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal, straight or curved, thick or thin. Lines lead your eye around the composition and can communicate information through their character and direction. Line can direct the eye to a desired focal point or it can define the edges of a form.

Perceiving line is another innate skill that we possess. Young children often begin drawing landscapes by making outlines for houses, people, and other objects. Gradually we learn that objects do not have such outlines and we use changes in color to define the edges of shapes, thus creating implicit lines. We can refer to implicit lines such as that of the horizon “line,” or the “lines” of a car or a fashionable dress, even though we know there is no literal line present. Line can be used to great effects in the landscape.