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The role of lines in graphic design

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Sometimes something simple is better than something complicated.

'A line is a dot that went for a walk'. Paul Klee


Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), Joan Miró.
Personnage Oiseau (Figure, Bird), Joan Miro

The world's best-known artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, experimented with anatomical lines and produced beautiful figures.

Albrecht Dürer, a German artist, was a master at using lines to create great works of art.

Additionally, Picasso employed lines in minimalist compositions, including some of his one-line drawings.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), Joan Miró.
Femme, Oiseaux (Woman, Birds), Joan Miro


Despite the lack of tone and detail, Aaron Earley's cross-contour line drawings effectively convey emotion.


These elements, displaying a wide range of variations, are regularly seen in the works of Joan Miró and Wassily Kandinsky's line drawings.




Public domain, Wassily Kandinsky
Squares with Concentric Circles, Wassily Kandinsky

Public domain, Wassily Kandinsky
Molle rudesse, Wassily Kandinsky

Lines are the most basic visual element in graphic design. They can serve decorative purposes or fulfill specific functions, such as organizing page elements. Lines are versatile, capable of defining shapes and figures, as well as indicating motion, emotion, and other design elements. They are ubiquitous in design, directing the user's eye, creating flow, organizing design elements, and establishing emphasis.

There are various types of lines, including curved, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and zigzag lines. Each type is used to evoke mood and meaning.

Curved lines express fluid movement, ranging from calm to dynamic, and are pleasant to follow.

Horizontal lines convey a sense of rest and peace, creating a calming mood.

Vertical lines are associated with height, grandeur, and spirituality.

Diagonal lines are more dramatic than horizontal or vertical lines, suggesting movement and fluidity.

Zigzag lines are formed by connecting diagonal lines at different points. They generate excitement and intense movement, conveying a sense of confusion and nervousness through their quick and frequent changes in direction.

Lines can also work together in different ways:

  • Intersecting lines cross each other at a point.

  • Perpendicular lines meet at right angles.

  • Parallel lines never intersect.

Lines, as one of the fundamental visual elements, should not be underestimated. They play a crucial role in creating forms, adding style, and dividing space. They provide valuable clues about the emotions the designer aims to convey.

Whether used alone or in combination with other graphic design elements, lines help set moods, create textures, define shapes, and build patterns.

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These lines are well understood by graphic designers so if you want to learn all these skills and want to become a graphic designer then you must learn those skills from a company that design websites. They can help you learn to grow well in designing websites.

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