What is a Line?

-In art it is considered to be a “moving dot”

A Line is...

  • A mark on a surface that describes a shape or outline.
  • It can create texture and can be thick and thin.

  • Types of line can include actual, implied, vertical, horizontal, diagonal and contour lines.

What do lines do?

  • Lines define. We can see identifiable images, because of lines. What type of lines do you see? (Vertical, horizontal and diagonal).
  • The lines have a spidery and wire-like quality. Why do you think the artist chose to use these types of lines? How would the expression of the image change if the artist chose to use blurry lines?

Ben Shahn (Lithuanian) 1889-1968, Supermarket, serigraph in black,1957, 25 1/4 x 38 3/4"


How many different lines can you name?

Created by Anne Rybak

PSU Art Methods Presentation


Some types of line are:

  • Outlines- Lines made by the edge of an object or its silhouette.
  • Contour Lines- Lines that describe the shape of an object and the interior detail.
  • Gesture Lines- Lines that are energetic, capture movement and gestures of action.
  • Sketch Lines- Lines that capture the appearance or impression of an object or place.

Implied Lines

Lines that are not necceserly drawn on the image but are created with values, colors, textures, and shape.

Some characteristics of Line are:

  • Width- thick, thin, tapering, uneven
  • Length - long, short, continuous, broken
  • Direction- horizontal, vertical, diagonal, curving, perpendicular, slanted, parallel, radial, zigzag
  • Focus- sharp, blurry, fuzzy, choppy
  • Feeling- sharp, jagged, graceful, smooth

Line Quality :

Its the thickness and or thinness of a line. It can create illusions of form.

No line quality Line quality


  • Lines can communicate an idea or express a feeling.
  • They can appear static or active.
  • Lines define objects.
  • We will take a look at how artists use line expressively…



  • For many art students as well as professional artists, Line seems to be one of the important Elements of Art.

  • Imagine creating a painting,sculpture or design without drawing lines to create recognizable shapes and forms.

contour line

Line Quality and texture

Contour Lines are the most basic line.

They show where object end and starts. It most commonly known as the outline.

Cross Contour

These lines follow the contour lines to create shadows or add further form.

Cross Contour Lines

lines - Google Slides