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Composition and Design – Line

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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