Line Drawing of a lady lying down and on the foreground written Elements of Art Line

Elements of Art Line: Importance of Line in Art

The Line is the first element of Art and is the basic and the most important of all elements. Every one starts to learn Art by first drawing a line

You can use a line to create an outline when you draw an object. A line in a drawing can indicate the change of plane on a surface, and the Line can create a three-dimensional effect on your picture.

You can create different values by closely drawing lines or applying pressure to your pencil.

Art created with simple lines can convey an impactful message than a passage written with thousand words. That is why some cartoons are so powerful.

I am trying to say here that the Line in Art is everything. Some are visible, while some are blended and may be visible as shade or value.

Everything in Art comes to a single element called a Line.

What is the Definition of a Line in Art?

You can define the Line as an identifiable and visible path or impression created by a moving point from A to B in space.

You can also say it is an impression on paper (here, paper is the space). Sometimes, if the art subject is closed like a circle, it starts and ends at Point A.

A Line is a Dot that went for a Walk!

SWISS ARTIST – PAUL KLEE (1879 – 1940)

How is Line an Element of Art?

The elements of Art are all the different visual qualities that artists use to create an artistic effect. The term “elements” is used because all art pieces contain these visual qualities in some form or another.

The Line is one of the visual elements used in Art, which refers to an outline or contour. Lines are often used in painting, drawing, and other forms of Art to separate the different elements within the work.

The list of Elements of Art is as follows: –

  1. Elements of Art Line
  2. Elements of Art Shape
  3. Elements of Art Form
  4. Elements of Art Color
  5. Elements of Art Space
  6. Elements of Art Texture
  7. Elements of Art Value

What are the characteristics of Lines in Art?

Characteristics of the Line in Art can be grouped based on its physical structure like Weight, Length, Width, etc. 

Line Weight

What is Line weight in Art?

Line weight in the drawing represents the thickness of the Line in an artwork, and the Line can be light, dark, or heavy in a painting. You can show the distance and depth in your Artwork by using the appropriate line weight.

In general, it represents the strength of the Line to communicate realism visually.

You can show a Line weight in your drawing by its thickness (heaviness) or its darkness.

How to create Line Weight


Line weight can be created by applying different pressure to your drawing tool. Let us take a 4B pencil. Draw a line by using less pressure on your pencil. The result will be a thin line. 

If you increase the pressure, the Line will be thick. Applying more pressure leaves more graphite on the paper’s surface, thereby increasing the weight of the Line.


Instead of sharpening, you can chisel the tip of your pencil. Start drawing, and it will create a broader, heavy line line. The broader tip will give more graphite to the surface of the medium, resulting in heavy lines.


If you were a pencil artist, you would already know the H & B type difference. H pencil is a hard pencil generally used for light lines, and I use them mainly for outlines. An artist uses B pencil for soft lines, and in the B type of pencil, the higher the number, the higher the gradient or darkness in the lines.

Line Length

Art Lines, just like the width, have different lengths too. They can be broadly divided into Short lines and Long lines.

Short lines are generally used for intricate drawing and when drawing some precise pictures. Short lines are also used when shading; these clusters of tiny lines give value to the drawing by creating depth to the picture.

Short lines are mostly created by just moving the wrist in quick repetition.

Long lines are drawn more for outlines and generally represent the contour lines of the object. An artist uses his entire hand to draw long lines, and his entire hand moves when he creates a long line.

A good example where we use long lines is when an Artist creates gesture drawing.

Line Texture

Line texture can be divided into two types, basically smooth lines and rough lines.

Smooth Line

The artist uses Smooth lines to give a finishing touch to the drawing. An example is drawing a hair on the face; you use a smooth line, providing clarity and professionalism in the Artwork.

Rough Line

These lines are used for draft work or at a stage where the artist develops a concept. These lines are rough as lines might break them and will generally be staggered. An amateur artist normally uses these kinds of lines when drawing.

The concept of Line length & weight seems so simple, but trust me, and it can create wonders in your Artwork. Understanding the concept clearly and knowing which one to use where can give your Artwork a professional look.

Let’s now understand the aspect of lines.

What are the Different Types of Lines in Art?

Elements of Art Line: Types of Lines are grouped based on visual appearance like direction, shapes, etc.

6 different types of lines in art are shown.  Straight Lines, Curved lines, Horizontal Lines, Vertical Lines, Diagonal Lines & Zigzag lines
Six different types of lines in Art

Straight Line

Straight-line are lines drawn from point A to point B covering the least possible distance. These lines are generally drawn using tools like a ruler. An experienced artist may not require a ruler and can draw with his hand. However, if the Line needs to be precise or if the drawing is a technical drawing, then you need to use a ruler.

Straight lines are generally used for drawing geometrically shaped figures, providing the composition and structure of the geometrical figures. Depending on the angle, straight lines can be further termed horizontal lines, Vertical Lines, Diagonal Lines, etc.

The meaning of a Straight Line in Art is that it gives an impression of the plane on the surface if we draw it horizontally and height if we draw it vertically. 

Curved Lines

Curved lines are drawn from point A to point B with a gradual change in direction before reaching point B. You can draw these lines using tools like Compass when being done for technical drawing. Generally, we draw curved lines using freehand without any tools.

To become a professional artist, you should master drawing curved lines freehand. The length of the curved lines can be short or long, depending on the art requirement. When drawing short, curved lines, you need to move only the wrist and fingers. When drawing long curved lines, you need to move your whole hand to get the flow.

Curvy lines are wavy and convey feminine comfort and ease.

Horizontal Lines

Define Horizontal Lines in Art.

Horizontal lines can be defined as lines drawn across the paper or canvas from left to right.

We use these lines to depict the landscape or where the sky meets the land, giving a feeling that the objects are parallel to the earth’s surface. These lines need not necessarily be straight, and horizontal lines are generally drawn using freehand.

The Horizontal Line in a landscape indicates a continuation of space beyond the Line. It also symbolizes the continuation of space on the left and right sides of the picture frame.

These lines in landscape drawings depict distance, calmness, and wholeness.

Horizontal lines are also known as Landscape painter’s lines.

Vertical Lines

Vertical lines are drawn from top to bottom on the paper or canvas. Drawing indoor images like a room give the artist more opportunity to draw vertical lines. We draw it when the subject is perpendicular to the earth’s surface, like a building or pillar, and conveys a lack of movement.

It is easy to draw the line from top to bottom rather than from bottom to top. 

Similarly, it isn’t easy to draw vertical drawings than horizontal lines using freehand.

These lines are generally straight unless drawing some natural objects like trees etc.

Vertical lines can create an impression of height, power, and stability in Art and depict occupied space from earth to sky.

Diagonal Lines

Diagonal straight lines are drawn from Point A to Point B at an angle other than 0 or 90 degrees. You can draw these lines from top right to bottom left or from top left to bottom right. These lines can again be short or long and can be thin or thick.

These lines appear to be rising or falling or about to fall.

These lines represent a lack of stability, unbalanced on the surface, when you can depict objects drawn on the diagonal position as about to fall or are already falling.

Zig Zag Lines

Zig Zag lines are short straight lines drawn without lifting the pencil from Point A to Point B with random sharp turns at different angles before reaching point B. Zigzag lines represent disorder, restlessness, and anxiety.  

These lines can be started from anywhere on the paper and go in any direction.

Elements of Art Line – Combine

In Continuous Line Drawing, an artist will use only one line from start to finish for his entire Artwork without lifting his hand.

An art lover can easily identify these and appreciate the artist’s work.

In other types of Artwork, you will never see the individual types of lines, and it will be just a combination of all. Some artwork may be simple, while some other is extremely complex.

What are the different lines based on Functions in Art?

Based on their function in the Artwork, we can group lines in another way. Every Line in a canvas has its purpose and based on this, we can group them into Horizon Line, Contour Line, Orthogonal Line, Implied Line, and hatching & cross-hatching line.

Let us understand them in detail.

What is a Horizon Line?

In Art theory, the Horizon line is where the land meets the sky, which is also the viewer’s eye level. If you change the eye level by moving to an elevated place, the horizon line changes and follows your eye level. On the contrary, your horizon line will come down if you sit on the floor.

Sky and beautiful flowers on ground and sea at background and horizon line where sky meets the sea. Words explains what horizon line is.
What is Horizon Line

The Horizon line is one key point in perspective drawing. It is the furthest point a human eye can see, and objects in perspective become so tiny that it becomes a line. There are objects beyond that Line, but it appears only like this.

Similarly, the other Line extends n the left and right sides of the frame, but you cannot see them.

What is an Orthogonal Line?

Orthogonal Lines are imaginary lines that are related to perspective drawing in Art. These lines help create an object’s three-dimensional look on a two-dimensional surface.

These lines are parallel lines to the surface of the ground and converge at the vanishing point. Hence these lines are also called a line of convergence.  

Orthogonal lines converge at a distance from the point of the viewer’s eye.   The objects drawn will reduce in size at a distance and touch the orthogonal Line from the point of view of the person’s eye. 

What are Contour Lines?

Contour lines are outlines that define the form or shape of an object on paper or canvas, and these lines represent the edges of the object of your drawing.

These lines also act as the guideline for the shading in your Artwork. It isn’t easy to draw contour lines where the image is not sharp, and we draw a contour line where there is a change in the plane.

These lines give shape and structure to your drawing. Be it a human figure, a landscape, or any object. Most artists start with the contour line.  

What are Implied Lines?

Implied lines in the Art are invisible lines implied or understood from the context of the Artwork. These are not real lines but are created using shades, color, texture, or lights.

It guides the person’s eye to view the drawing from one part of the Artwork to another using the elements of drawing subconsciously.

The human brain interprets these implied lines and does not need any explanation or guidance. One of the creative ways to add implied lines is by drawing a pointing finger, and the viewer will see what the finger is pointing.                

To understand further one implied Line, you need to study ancient Artwork. This Artwork can help you to understand and use the same in your painting.

Drawing of a house and trees and marking of Implied Lines
Implied Lines what is it

What are Hatching and Cross Hatching Lines?

Hatching and Cross-hatching lines are techniques used to create different textures and values for your drawing. These lines also create the impression of light and shade in the Line drawing.

Hatching is short parallel lines using freehand indicating the values inside or around the subject. If there is light on the subject, we draw the lines loosely. If we represent the subject by darkness, we draw the lines tightly, representing shadow.

Cross hatching is again short lines drawn crossing each other done using freehand. The darker the value you want to draw on the subject, the more lines across each other.

Benefits of Lines in Art

  • Lines can create outlines for any picture. They define any object or subject the artist intends to draw.
  • Lines create shapes. By creating an outline for the drawing, an Artist creates the shape using the lines. The shapes can be geometrical shapes or random shapes.
  • Lines create textures. With Line, you can create different types of textures. These textures give realism to the Artwork.
  • Lines create depth in the images you draw. An object’s dark side and lighter side can be easily shown using lines. Pencil shades are a form of a line.
  • Lines can create designs. Great designs are created using lines, be it the digital world or the physical world. The majority of the designs are created using line drawings.
  • Lines create realism in an artwork. A simple line like hair in front of a female face with the reflection of light can create an awesome effect on the drawing. This can be created using the Line.
  • Lines create perspective for the image that you draw. The horizon line and orthogonal Line help to create perspective by drawing a three-dimensional figure on a two-dimensional surface.
  • Lines create simplicity in an artwork. A simple cartoon can convey the message of a book or can create a revolution in a country, that is, the power of lines. Sometimes the lesser the lines, the more powerful it is.
  • Line guides the viewer’s eye when watching a drawing. The implied lines often may guide the viewer from watching the picture from one part to another in the way desired by the artist.
  • Lines depict expressions like motion, speed, emotions, weight, etc. Small two dashes below the leg in a cartoon can represent the person’s movement or speed. Similarly, a thick dark line can depict weight, etc.

What is Line Quality in Art?

When drawing a line, you should remember the Line has emotions. 

There are thickness and thinness when drawing your lines in an artwork. 

When there is a shadow or the subject you are drawing is thick, the Line should be thick in that part. When you draw the bright side of the object, the Line should be thinner, resulting in the light effect.

By using different line weights, your drawing gets a sort of realism.

These thin and thick lines project realism and depict expressions, speed, and motion.

To sum it up, line quality is the clarity of expression by an artist in drawing thick or thin lines based on the requirement, thereby giving the viewer visual realism.


Simply put, lines are everything in Art. Just like the concept of singularity in the Universe, the Line is the singularity in any artwork.

Many of us do not appreciate the importance of lines. Understanding different types of lines in Art and appropriately using them in your drawings can show your professionalism. Practice makes your Line perfect. 

Master your strokes (lines) to create a masterpiece, and keep drawing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Line an Element of Art?

    A Line is one of the elements of Art; it can create shape, form, and texture in a work of Art. Additionally, lines can create movement and tension within a work. Without lines in Art, there would be no shapes or images.

  2. Why is the Line the most important element of Art?

    The Line is the most important element of Art because it is the simplest and most direct way to create a two-dimensional image. A line can be used to define shapes and contours and to create patterns and textures. It is also used to create perspective in a painting or drawing and to suggest depth and space.

  3. How do lines affect an artwork?

    Lines can affect Artwork in a variety of ways. They can create movement and tension, or they can create a sense of stillness and calm. Lines also create shapes and patterns, affecting the viewer’s perception of the Artwork. Lastly, lines can communicate moods and emotions for expressive purposes.

  4. How do artists use lines to imply emotions?

    Lines can imply a wide range of emotions, depending on their direction, thickness, and spacing. Short, thin lines might be used to create a feeling of anxiety or tension, while thick, curved lines might depict warmth and security. The arrangement of lines can also communicate emotion. A series of tightly-packed lines might suggest chaos or confusion, while a series of widely-spaced lines might convey serenity or peace.

  5. What is the difference between a line and a stroke?

    A line is a mark that indicates the edge of a shape or form, while a stroke is a mark made by a moving point. In other words, a line is created when two points are connected, while a stroke is created when a point moves across a surface.

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