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Line Element of Design

Line | The Basic Element of Design

Jahanara Akter
Lecturer, Dept. of Fashion & Design
KCC Women’s College (Affiliated by Khulna University)
Khulna, Bangladesh
Email: fashionelongation@gmail.com




A line is a fundamental mark or stroke used in drawing in which the length is longer than the width. Two connected points form a line and every line has a length, width, and direction if it is straight. It is a element of design.

It provides the visual dimensions of length and width. When lines combine, space is enclosed and forms and shapes are defined. Lines offered a path of vision for the eyes when is wearing an object/outfit. The arrangement of lines in clothing design can cause to appear heavier or thinner.

Objectives of Line Element of Design:

  1. To make a shape, contour, define a boundary
  2. Create variety by using angular, broken, bent, thick or thin lines
  3. Create rhythm with curved or straight lines, varied in length
  4. Simulate texture
  5. Passive lines created between the division of one color from another or mass from space
  6. In perspective to create the illusion of depth
  7. Organized to express movement or motion
  8. Create focus through direction

Aspects of Line Element of Design:
Lines are analyzed according to nine aspects

  1. Path
  2. Thickness
  3. Evenness
  4. Continuity
  5. Sharpness of the edge
  6. Contour of the edge
  7. Consistency
  8. Length
  9. Direction

Lines as design components:

1.     Lines in buildings

a. Structural uses include columns, trusses, rafters, beams, planking, brick rows.

b. Decorative uses include moulding, wallpaper, color blocking

2.     Lines in Clothing

a. Structural uses include Seams, darts, shirring, silhouette, edges of collars, lapels, pockets, belts, sleeves, hems, openings, pleats, gathers, tucks, draping.

b. Decorative uses included braid, rickrack, piping, rows of buttons, insertions, binding, lace edgings, ribbon, soutache, topstitching, faggoting, ruffles, fringe, linear embroidery, beading or fabric patterns such as plaid, stripes, herringbones, checks, zigzags

3.     Lines in Lighting
Single beams of light, edge of shadows, template patterns

Types of Basic Line Element of Design:

  1. Horizontal line
  2.  Vertical line
  3.  Oblique line
  4.  Diagonal line.
  5.  Curved line etc.

Lines are the greatest devices of fashion designers. Since lines create illusion of height and width, they can be used to one’s requirement to tone down or exaggerate a particular figure type.

1.      Horizontal line:
These lines adds width to the garment and decrease the apparent height, for example a wide contrasting coloured belt shortens the height of the figure by cutting the garment into two segments, however the belt has the effect of slimming the waist line, the coloured will not shorten the height of the outfit as well as the wearer.

Horizontal Line
Horizontal Line

2.      Vertical line:
These produce an illusion of added height to the outfit design by adding and contrasting coloured vertical bank in the centre or a centre panel added with vertical line gives an added height to the outfit. These lines end to make a short person look tall.

Vertical Line
Vertical Line

3.      Oblique line:
Lines that are neither parallel nor perpendicular. An oblique line segment is any line segment that is not vertical or horizontal, parallel or perpendicular. They are lines, segments, or rays that intersect at any angle other than 90 degrees. Oblique lines and segments are typically sloping, slanted, or diagonal.

4.      Diagonal line:
These lines can add or decrease the height of the wearer depending on their slope. Long Uninterrupted diagonals tilting almost vertically are the most lengthening and most dramatic of all lines. Diagonal lines should be combined with vertical or horizontal lines. If they are used alone for the entire dress the effect will be disturbing.

Diagonal Line
Diagonal Line

5.      Curved line:
These lines are more romantic and pensive by nature. Curved lines can be a full circle or may even appear almost straight. Curved lines are considered graceful and feminine; those in a diagonal direction are the most graceful and can be seen in the soft folds of material in a draped dress or a ruffled collar.

6.      Line movements:
The arrangement of vertical, horizontal and oblique lines produce line movements characterized by opposition, transition or radiation.

7.      Opposition:
In a design where the vertical line is opposed by a horizontal line opposing oblique lines are used.

8.      Transition:
When one line direction slips smoothly into another, the movement is transitional (e.g., curved lines). Curved lines should not be over done. They are at their best when stiffened by some straight lines, example round yoke with vertical pin tucks within it.

9.      Radiation:
When a design is created with radiating lines at the neckline, it will attract attention to the face. These radiating lines are produced by stitching decorative darts on the right side of the garment.

Physical and Psychological Effects of Line Element of Design:

1. The direction of the line is the strongest of the aspects because it leads the eye and creates focus.

a. Vertical lines are awake, alert, defy gravity, rigid, firm, stable, strong

b. Horizontal lines are restful, yield to gravity, create quiet, repose, passivity, calmness, or serenity

c. Diagonal lines appear undecided, unstable, busy, active, dynamic, restless, dramatic, sporty,   lengthening, and reduce horizontal or vertical shapes.

          1. Often a diagonal line needs opposing diagonal to appear balanced.

          2. If joining diagonal lines are pointing down they tend to lift up, or make object /wearer appear lighter, happier, more youthful.

          3. if they are pointing up the lines will have the opposite effect causing the object/wearer to appear older, heavier, somber, or droopy.

     d. A horizontal line combined with a vertical line creates stillness, staticness, equilibrium. For example, the frame work of a building, telephone poles, branches of a tree.

 Expressive power of lines:

1. The choices made with respect to the aspects of the lines in a design can manipulate the viewer for example:

2. Mood can also be manipulated depending on how aspects are used

           a. An assertive mood can be created with straight, solid, sharp, thick, even, smooth, bold, or vertical lines.

          b. A soft, or delicate mood would employ curved, thin, or continuous lines

          c. A casual feeling would involve using lines that are zigzag, soft, broken, sharp, thin, porous

3. Moods can be modified by aspects as well An assertive straight path can be modified with shaped, lacy, porous or fuzzy edges and become delicate or ephemeral.

Reinforcement and countering with line aspects:
Lines emphasis the direction in which the lines are going

      a. A horizontal line at the shoulder or hip visually widen the figure while a vertical line from the shoulder to the hip will visually lengthen the torso.

      b. A thick horizontal line at the top of a low building, for example a row of bricks in a contrasting color will cause the building to look wider or squatty, while the placement of a contrasting line of bricks vertical will give the building more height.

      c. Soften tall, angular, thin, line with countering curved lines.

      d. Counter protruding round lines with straight lines and sharp corners.



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