Composition and Design – Line

The first element of design that we’re going to play with is line. There are many different types of line – horizontal, vertical, diagonal, dotted, jagged, thick, thin, wavy, straight, long, short – the list could go on indefinitely. How many different types of line can you find? Take photos of as many of the lines as you can that you see during your day. Now go through the photos. Which of the lines do you like better and why? How can you use these lines in your work? How can you use them to organize? Texturize? Guide the eye? Provide movement?

Now I love organic lines but I purposely looked for some line that wasn’t from nature and more geometric. Do you have photos with line? What kind of line do you like best?

line exercise

Be aware of what the shape of lines can convey. Sharp edges could indicate tension, crispness, hardness, formality, or high-tech. Soft edges and curves may be softer, flowing, more casual, or more personal. Even small changes in line thickness, endings, or shape changes can alter the look and feel of a design. Try drawing sets of patterns using only black or white lines that illustrate static, dynamic, or random line patterns. Experiment with line width, spacing, and using horizontal, vertical, curved, and even diagonal lines. In the exercise above (click on the photo to see it a little better), I picked opposite words and then drew various lines to signify that word.

How can you use line in a composition to make it more active? Or still? What direction of line conveys more action? Or serenity? What emotions can you evoke with line alone? What does changing the weight of the line do to your composition? Or changing the texture of the line?

Here’s a before and after line set of photos. Does the line make it more interesting?

And again, do you think the addition of silver line adds interest?

Here’s a sketch I did from a photo. The reason I took the photo was because of the lines of the branches against the trunks and the snow. I simplified my sketch a bit but the eye is still drawn to those branches against the background.

And when does line become shape?

How do you add line to your work? With hand or machine stitching? With dye or surface design techniques? With paint or pen?

Line Drawing

Here’s another exercise I tried. Click on the photo (it’s not really good, sorry) and see how I used just straight lines with varying widths between the lines as I go down the page and create shapes where the line isn’t.

Here are some examples of machine stitched line on felt.

Try thinking about and using line in your work this month. I’d love to see what you come up with. I am creating a new thread on the forum so everyone can post photos of line, working with line or work you have created with line. So that’s your “design challenge” for the month. Let’s see some line folks!

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20 Responses to Composition and Design – Line

  1. Karen Lane says:

    Interesting post Ruth and very well illustrated. I will be taking my camera out this morning to see what lines I can find.

  2. craftywoman says:

    So many ideas here Ruth, you have seen lines everywhere. Your sketching and other work inspires, my eyes are now open and looking for lines 🙂

  3. Lyn says:

    Inspiring! Great examples Ruth.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Lyn! I was thinking of your second quarter challenge piece when I was writing this with your lines of the sign post against the colored background.

  4. merielk says:

    I just can’t tell you how much I enjoy (love) these postings. They are so inspiring. I’m just starting out keeping an “idea journal” and trying to find my own style and/or voice in terms of art, poetry and crafts. Your work is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing ideas and process.

    • ruthlane says:

      I am so glad you are enjoying these postings. It is great to keep an idea journal. It does help to find your own style and voice. Just keep creating and you will develop your own style. I will be sharing a design post once a month or so. Come join us on the forum to share your work. http://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/

  5. 1marylou says:

    Wow! Wonderful food for thought.

  6. Kathy says:

    Great article and some real food for thought . . . Thank you 😀

  7. josiedb says:

    Enjoyed this post so much. I’m going to start looking and taking photos of what I think are lines. Will share when available.

  8. Great post Ruth. I will have to start paying attention to my photos for line.

  9. zararooke says:

    Very inspirational and well illustrated post Ruth! Thanks!

  10. zedster66 says:

    Great post, Ruth 🙂 This reminds me of Mindfulness I learned about at Start, being more in the moment and observing and being concious of it.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Zed – a lot of art and design is really seeing and taking the time to absorb and learn from what you see. So yes, mindfulness sounds right 🙂

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