Monday, October 18, 2010

Design Basics Part 2 - Line

Welcome to the second instalment of my occasional series of articles on some of the ideas surrounding Design. My intention remains the same ~ to demystify some of what makes good design good.

As noted HERE the basics of Design can be thought of as a set of ELEMENTS and PRINCIPLES. The next Element to investigate is LINE.

Line ~ can be an actual line drawn, or can be the line formed where two surfaces, or surface and space meet.

Line can lead your eye in a particular direction, as can shape, eg. Arrow.
On a round shape, our eyes are usually drawn first to the centre. In this plate, our eyes then work through the successive bands, helped along by the general direction of the lines in each band of pattern.

Form and depth can be built up with simple layering of lines.

Depth and movement can be created depending on the thickness of the line. Our eyes continue to move up and down the flowing shapes. The lighter lines tend to come 'forward', while the darker lines tend to recede.

By varying the thickness and density of the line, you can convey a sense of real form and weight. Generally, lines are thicker and darker where there is shadow. Note the subtle change in thickness on the ribs, of the left of the body (ie the upper line)
Bending Figure, charcoal drawing

Diagonals create movement and/or vitality, as in this image of a fresh flower laden branch. Strength is gained through the simplicity of the composition, and the heaviness and repetition of the tapered lines.

Line can be both delicate and gutsy.

Like colour, there is so much you can do with line, and I've only just touched the tip of the iceberg here. As always, I love your comments and questions. So go on, drop me a line! :)

Stay tuned for the next post on Size.... (yes, it DOES matter)


  1. great post! always love to read your take on design..

  2. Thanks for a great post. When you break it down it adds a new depth to admiring the art. I really love the images you've chosen too

  3. Thanks for the great post. I checked out Bridget Farmers work too and its fabulous.

  4. Wow some great art there. Just want to let you know you won my giveaway!!!!

    Please email me at with your address


    <3 Michelle

  5. I *finally* checked out your blog... and am I ever glad I did!! Thank you for the feature. Great article! :)

  6. Geez anyone would think you were a teacher or sumthin.... xxx

  7. Terrific post! I really loved all the images you chose too (and I need to check out Owl Creek Ceramics - anything with 'owl' in the name has to be good!). The little wren is my favourite, although I love the magnolia print and the lino cut.

    Linda. xox