What is Line?

The line in design is a path of a point moving dynamically through space. It’s one of the seven elements of design (line, colour, shape, form, texture, value, space).

So, Designer use line to describe the outline of an object. Moreover, Lines can be used to illustrate pretty much everything. In addition, Lines can also be used to convey abstract or complex ideas.

If you are a novice designer then, you should learn the element of design in the first place.

There a 5 types of lines in art and design;

  1. Horizontal Lines
  2. Vertical Lines
  3. Diagonal Lines
  4. Zig-Zag Lines
  5. Curved Lines

1. Horizontal Lines

The Lines which are parallel to Horizon is called Horizontal Lines.

Therefore, Horizontal lines associated with width, distance, emphasis, direction, calmness, and stability. So adding an object to a horizontal line makes the design feel static and grounded. So most of the designs or objects are resting on the line. In fact, the True Horizon is Horizontal.

Photograph of horizon line that separating sea from sky.
Note: The horizon or skyline is the apparent line that separates earth from sky.

2. Vertical Lines

The Vertical Lines are perpendicular to the horizontal lines.

So, Vertical lines give a sense of height, strength, stability, balance, and elevation. Also, you can see trees are vertical for this reason the idea of height and strength is implied to vertical lines. Because they extend towards the sky and seem unshakeable.

3. Diagonal Lines

The Lines which are slant to both Vertical and Horizontal Lines.

So, Diagonal lines give you a sense of dynamic movement and freedom, motion to an object, direct the eye upwards or downwards, and add dimensions to space, making it feel more spacious.

If used incorrectly, then it can implore a sense of disorder and disharmony.

4. Zig-Zag Lines

The Zig-Zag lines are series of joined diagonal lines.

Zig-Zag lines associated with action and excitement, as well as restlessness and anxiety. So by using symmetric or asymmetric lines helps to make or break the harmony and structure in design.

Amer Fort or Amber Fort is a fort located in Amer, Rajasthan, India. Amer Fort is known for its artistic style elements
Photo by Nina Luong on Unsplash

5. Curved Lines

The Curved Lines changes its path direction gradually.

Curving lines such as freeform, arcing, circular, or elliptical often feel natural, organic, playful, and soothing. Also, Curves give you a sense of flow and smoothness to a design. So most designer use curve to help users follow a certain path in design.

The modern 'Bramante' spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932
Bramante Staircase at Vatican Museums, Vatican City State

These are the 5 types of lines used in the design. Also, by using lines, curves and angles, you can make shapes and forms. Besides, You can add variations to the path of a line to convey emotion.

These are the characteristic style which is added to exaggerate ideas in the design with lines

  1. Direction
  2. Rhythm
  3. Angularity
  4. Weight
  5. Style & Texture

1. Direction

Using directional lines such as horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, We can direct eyes to trace a path our desired point or give the design a sense of restful or restlessness.

Illustration of Horizontal, Vertical and Diagonal Lines
Directional Lines

2. Rhythm (Repetition)

Rhythm in lines makes the design more smooth and predictable. Dashed, Dotted, Zig-Zag or Curved lines used to make seamless patterns. Rhythm occurs when an aspect of a line is used repeatedly.

3. Angularity (Degree of Curvature)

The angularity of the line can make the design feel robotic, aggressive or smooth. For Instance, Acute and Obtuse angled lines gives a sense of insecure and dangerous. Also, Curved lines give the design a smooth flow.

Illustration of Lines with acute/obtuse angle, curved line and Rectilinear line
Lines with different angle

4. Weight

Applying weight to a line gives a sense of the characters feels to the object. For Example, thin lines express that the object is delicate and lightweight or a Thick line give the object boldness and feels heavier.

Illustration of Horizontal and Vertical lines with varing weights
Variation in line weight

5. Style & Texture

You can use textured line in design making it look more organic. Even more, textures to illustrate the smoothness or roughness of line.

You can add texture to a line in a design to make it feel more organic (handmade) and vintage vibe. Also, continuous dashed and dotted lines are used to make patterns and which simply grabs the attention to the eye.

Illustration of Horizontal and Vertical lines with varing brush texture and style
Different brush texture and style

Try experimenting with lines, Also, by using just lines and the with the type of lines in your design. Also try adding a character like weight, direction, rhythm, texture and style.

Understanding lines and its types will help you to explore and play with the line.

Check out my curated youtube videos for novice designer who is aspiring to become an expert but don’t know from where to start.

Curated Videos to get Started as a Graphic Designer

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