Lines are one of the basic elements of design. Alone or in combination with other lines or shapes they can aid in the readability, appearance, and message of a design.
Use lines to:


Keep an eye out for brochures, ads, newsletters, graphics, logos, and other print projects that include examples of lines, look for materials around you that include lines of all kinds. You'll refer to these examples in some of the lessons in this class.

Appearance of Lines

A line is a mark connecting two points. How we get from point A to point B gives the line its distinctive character and appearance. Lines can be long or short, straight or curved. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Lines can be solid, dashed, thick, thin, or of variable width. The endings of lines can be ragged, blunt, or curved.

Lines can be long or short, straight or curved. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. They create patterns. Lines in graphic design can be solid, dashed, thick, thin, or of variable width.
11Sometimes a designer uses a line alone to divide or unite elements on a page. Lines can denote direction of movement (as in diagonal lines and arrows) or provide an anchor to hold elements on a page (such as lines at the top, bottom, or sides of a page).







A contour is a line that defines or bounds anything -- defines its edge. Most lines in art are contour lines. An object does not have a line around its edge, nor anything that looks like a line. Yet when you see a line drawing you have no trouble interpreting the image as representing something in the real world.
There are more contours on any complex object than the outside edge. There are many more subtle contours that can be seen and drawn. Things like folds and color changes can be represented by contour lines -- anything that has an edge.


Line can be used to define the edge of space as well as the edge of an object. The line above divides the information about contour lines from this section about dividing space. The line that forms the rectangle to the right separates that shape from the rest of the page. The line through its center divides the rectangle in two.
If you read the rectangle as a shape then its outline is a contour line. If you read the line as defining a format then it divides the space of the page from the space in the format.
These kinds of lines have many used in design. It is even possible to use a long thin negative shape as a line to divide space. This takes place between two columns or rows of type in a book or newspaper.

LinLine Patterns

Lines are often found in pairs or groups. Lines of the same general appearance or lines that are quite different can form a variety of patterns that create textures, suggest movement, or lead the eye - the same as single lines.


If you aren't creating original illustrations or doing logo design, your main concern with this part of the study of lines is being able to recognize these patterns in the illustrations you may select for your work and understand how these patterns may or may not project the image you want for your project. These bits of line patterns illustrate static, dynamic, and random use of lines.


Upper Left: Uniform vertical black and white lines alternate at even intervals. Static. Orderly. Conservative.
Upper Right: Uniform horizontal black lines are widely, but evenly spaced. Static. Stable. Orderly.
Middle Left: Uneven spacing of otherwise uniform lines creates the impression of movement. Dynamic. Orderly progression.
Middle Right: In this example the progression moves in from either side giving the illusion of roundness. Dynamic. Orderly progression. Dimension.
Lower Left: Varying line widths and distances create a random pattern. Dynamic. Chaotic. Disorderly.
Lower Right: While the uniform size and spacing of the lines in the upper examples are static, make the lines into curves and you get movement although it is a controlled movement. Dynamic. Orderly flow.1

Whether lines appear as part of a graphic element, such as a logo or illustration, or the lines themselves are the graphic element, such as frames and dividers, use them purposefully in the overall design.

Some ways that you might use lines in your design are to:

The examples included demonstrate a few of the ways lines might be used in page layout or illustration. You can probably find examples all around you as well.1










Above, a solid line separates columns of text, a pair of lines set apart a phrase, and a short dotted line separates a section of text from other parts of the page.1



A few simple lines added to a piece of clip art gives a sense of movement to the airplane. Short, choppy, vertical lines create a grooved texture along the edge of the timepiece sketch.

 Dashed lines suggest a coupon, whether there is one or not. It causes many of us to take a second look at this ad because the familiar dashed line makes us think "I can save money!"


Lines are tools for communication. When an artist uses lines to define the edges of an object or to describe its surface they are like someone telling a story. A good storyteller knows that it is not just the story, but the telling of it, that makes for success. The qualities of the lines in a drawing are like the timing, vocal inflections and emphasis that a storyteller uses.
Line quality also adds interest by increasing the variety in an image.


Line quality describes the appearance of a line -- its look not its direction. Different line qualities like thick, thin, light, dark, solid, broken, colored etc. all will change how the line is interpreted in a drawing.


Assignment: Line Project
Your project for today is to use only the text tool with the text warp function and the color black to create a design that causes your viewer’s eye to start at the page top and offers multiple paths of interest for the eye that eventually lead the viewer’s attention through all the text and end at the page bottom.