Lines of Visual Arts

Lines of Visual Arts – gesture lines, contour lines, outline.

In Visual Arts, lines are the most versatile of all elements of Art. A line is formed when a point moves from one location to the next. Lines are either real, imaginary or implied. Lines are used to form the principles of design such as pattern, texture.

To understand lines learn
– the category of lines
– the characteristics or features of lines
– the value of lines
– the function of lines

There are many categories of line.
Categories tell the permanent features of a line. So therefore lines can either be angular, straight or organic. Straight lines can further be vertical, horizontal. Organic are mostly appearing in nature, while angular lines are mostly manmade. Under organic however, curvy and wavy lines as drawn can be found.

Three functions of lines are outline, gesture, contour. Outline is the edge around an object or shape without discussing its form. Outlining lines define boundaries.

A contour is the most basic form of an artwork.
Contour lines are the lines which define the form, mass, while gesture lines discuss the expressions, feelings.
Contour lines are commonly used to give the impression of a form although the shape itself may be flat. Coutour lines do this by detailing the outline. Definitions in shadow to convey the identity of a person can be done using contour lines for example.
Alternatively, doing a contour drawing can mean to do an outline which enables one to identify the subject’s characteristics. An artist also uses contour lines to do the essential lines within the artwork example where a curve is used to show the stem’s originating point or light area on an apple. Line weight is therefore essential in contour drawings.

Gesture lines are loosely drawn, and oftentimes are the lines used for sketching humans. Gesture lines communicate emotion, motion, direction, form, pose.

The characteristic of a line describes the features, in five categories. Lines have specific roles.
The list is endless. Here are a few examples of the characteristics of lines –
Width – thick, thin, tapering, uneven
Length- long, short, continuous, broken
Direction – diagonal, perpendicular, vertical, horizontal, opaque, radial, oblique, parallel, spiral
Focus – zig zag or serpentine, blurred, choppy, fuzzy, dark, light
Feeling – distinct, jagged, sharp, graceful, smooth, active, static,

The characteristics of lines are what the artists use to convey


More on Contour drawing here

Contour versus Gesture lines here

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