1. Line

There are numerous different species of lines, all identified by their size being greater than your width. Lines deserve to be static or dynamic depending on how the artist chooses to usage them. They aid determine the motion, direction and energy in a work-related of art. We watch line all about us in our everyday lives; phone call wires, tree branches, jet contrails and also winding roadways are simply a few examples.

You are watching: This type of line makes use of rounded angles.

The Nazca lines in the arid seaside plains the Peru day to nearly 500 BCE to be scratched into the rocky soil, depicting animals on an tremendous scale, so large that lock are best viewed from the air. Let’s look at just how the various kinds of line are made.


Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas from 1656, ostensibly a portrait of the Infanta Margarita, the daughter the King Philip IV and Queen Mariana that Spain, uses a sumptuous amount of creative genius; its sheer size (almost ten feet square), painterly style of naturalism, light effects, and also the enigmatic numbers placed transparent the canvas–including the artist self –is among the great paintings in western art history. Let’s research it (below) come uncover exactly how Velazquez uses simple elements and principles of art to achieve such a masterpiece.


Diego Velazquez, las Meninas, 1656, oil top top canvas, 125.2” x 108.7”. Prado, Madrid. CC BY-SA

Actual lines are those that room physically present. The sheet of the wood stretcher bar in ~ the left of Las Meninas is an actual line, as are the snapshot frames in the background and also the direct decorative facets on several of the figures’ dresses. How plenty of other really lines deserve to you find in the painting?

Implied present are those created by visually connecting two or much more areas together. The gaze to the Infanta Margarita—the blonde main figure in the composition—from the meninas, or maids that honor, to the left and right of her, room implied lines. Implied lines can also be produced when two areas of different colors or tones come together. Can you identify much more implied present in the painting? Where? Implied lines are discovered in three-dimensional artworks, too. The sculpture that the Laocoon below, a figure from Greek and also Roman mythology, is, along with his sons, gift strangled by sea snakes sent by the goddess Athena as wrath against his warnings come the Trojans no to accept the Trojan horse. The sculpture set implied lines in motion as the figures writhe in agony versus the snakes.


Laocoon Group, roman inn copy that Greek original, Vatican Museum, Rome. Picture by Marie-Lan Nguyen. CC BY-SA

Straight or standard lines provide structure to a composition. They have the right to be oriented come the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line axis the a surface. Right lines room by nature visually stable, while still giving direction come a composition. In Las Meninas, you have the right to see them in the canvas supports on the left, the wall surface supports and also doorways ~ above the right, and in the background in matrices top top the wall spaces in between the framed pictures. Moreover, the small horizontal lines created in the stair edge in the background assist anchor the entire visual design of the painting. Vertical and also horizontal directly lines carry out the most stable compositions. Diagonal directly lines room usually an ext visually dynamic, unstable, and also tension-filled.


Straight lines, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Expressive present are curved, including an organic, an ext dynamic character to a job-related of art. Expressive currently are often rounded and follow undetermined paths. In Las Meninas you deserve to see lock in the aprons top top the girls’ dresses and in the dog’s folded hind leg and also coat pattern. Look again at the Laocoon to view expressive present in the figures’ flailing limbs and also the sinuous kind of the snakes. Indeed, the sculpture appears to be made up of nothing however expressive lines, shapes and also forms.


Organic lines, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

There are other kinds of line that include the attributes of those above yet, taken together, assist create additional artistic elements and also richer, much more varied compositions. Refer to the images and examples listed below to end up being familiar with these species of line.

Outline, or contour line is the easiest of these. They develop a path around the edge of a shape. In fact, outlines often specify shapes.


Outline, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Hatch present are repeated at quick intervals in normally one direction. They give shading and also visual texture to the surface of an object.


Hatch, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Crosshatch present provide extr tone and also texture. They can be oriented in any kind of direction. Multiple class of crosshatch lines can give rich and also varied shading come objects by manipulating the push of the illustration tool to create a big range of values.


Crosshatch, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Line quality is that feeling of character installed in the way a line presents itself. Details lines have attributes that differentiate them from others. Hard-edged, jagged lines have a staccato visual motion while organic, flowing lines develop a much more comfortable feeling. Meandering lines can be either geometric or expressive, and you deserve to see in the examples how their indeterminate paths animate a surface to different degrees.


Lines, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Although line as a visual aspect generally theatre a supporting function in intuitive art, there space wonderful instances in which line carries a strong social significance as the major subject matter.

Calligraphic lines use quickness and also gesture, an ext akin to paint strokes, come imbue an artwork v a fluid, lyrical character. To view this distinctive line quality, look increase the occupational of Chinese poet and artist Dong Qichang, dating from the Ming empire (1555-1637). A more geometric example from the Koran, developed in the Arabic calligraphic style, dates from the nine century.

Both these examples display how artists use line together both a kind of writing and a visual arts form. American artist mark Tobey (1890–1976) was affected by eastern calligraphy, adapting its type to the action of pure paint within a modern-day abstract style described as white writing.

2. Shape

A shape is identified as an fastened area in 2 dimensions. By an interpretation shapes are constantly flat, however the mix of shapes, color, and also other way can make shapes appear three-dimensional, as forms. Shapes can be developed in countless ways, the simplest by enclosing an area through an outline. Lock can likewise be do by surrounding an area with various other shapes or the placement of various textures beside each other—for instance, the shape of one island surrounded by water. Because they space more facility than lines, forms are usually much more important in the setup of compositions. The examples below give united state an idea of exactly how shapes room made.

Referring ago to Velazquez’s Las Meninas, the is fundamentally an arrangement of shapes; organic and also hard-edged, light, dark and mid-toned, that solidifies the composition in ~ the bigger shape of the canvas. Looking at it this way, we deserve to view any work of art, whether two or three-dimensional, realistic, summary or non-objective, in state of shapes alone.

Geometric shapes vs. Organic Shapes

Shapes deserve to be additional categorized right into geometric and organic. Instances of geometric forms are the persons we deserve to recognize and also name: squares, triangles, circles, hexagons, etc. Organic forms are those that are based on organic or living things or space more totally free form: the form of a tree, face, monkey, cloud, etc.

3. Form

Form is periodically used to explain a shape that has an implied 3rd dimension. In other words, an artist may shot to make parts of a level image appear three-dimensional. Notification in the drawing below how the artist makes the various shapes show up three-dimensional through the usage of shading. It’s a level image but shows up three-dimensional. Form is offered to do people, animals, trees, or anything appear three-dimensional.

When an image is incredibly realistic in terms of its forms (as well together color, space, etc.) such together this paint by Edwaert Collier, we speak to that trompe l’oeil, French because that “fool the eye.”

Edweart Collier, Trompe l’oeil with Writing Materials,oil ~ above canvas, c. 1702.This photo is in the public domain.

4. Space

Space is the area surrounding or in between real or include objects. Human beings categorize space: over there is external space, that endless void we enter beyond our sky; within space, which lives in people’s minds and also imaginations, and personal space, the important however intangible area the surrounds each individual and also which is violated if someone rather gets as well close. Pictorial an are is flat, and the digital realm lives in cyberspace. Art responds to all of these kinds of space.

Many artists room as came to with space in their functions as they are with, say, shade or form. There are many ways for the artist come present concepts of space. Psychic that plenty of cultures traditionally use pictorial room as a window to see subject matter through, and through the subject matter they present ideas, narratives and also symbolic content. The development of linear perspective, an include geometric photographic construct dating from fifteenth-century Europe, affords us the specific illusion the three-dimensional room on a flat surface, and also appears to recede into the distance v the usage of a horizon line and vanishing point(s). You deserve to see how one-point straight perspective is collection up in the examples below:


One-Point straight Perspective, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

One-point perspective occurs when the receding lines appear to converge at a solitary point ~ above the horizon and used once the flat front of things is facing the viewer. Note: Perspective deserve to be offered to show the relative size and also recession into room of any type of object, but is most efficient with hard-edged three-dimensional objects such together buildings.

A standard Renaissance artwork making use of one suggest perspective is Leonardo da Vinci’s The last Supper from 1498. Da Vinci composes the occupational by locating the vanishing suggest directly behind the head that Christ, thus drawing the viewer’s fist to the center. His arms mirror the receding wall surface lines, and, if we follow them as lines, would certainly converge at the very same vanishing point.

Leonardo da Vinci, The last Supper, 1498. Fresco. Santa Maria della Grazie. Work is in the general public domain.

Two-point view occurs as soon as the vertical edge the a cube is dealing with the viewer, exposing two sides that recede into the distance, one to each vanishing point.


Two-Point Perspective, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

View Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, rainy Weather from 1877 come see just how two-point view is used to give an accurate view come an metropolitan scene. The artist’s composition, however, is more complicated than simply his use of perspective. The figures are deliberately inserted to direct the viewer’s eye indigenous the front right of the snapshot to the building’s front edge on the left, which, prefer a ship’s bow, acts as a cleaver come plunge both sides toward the horizon. In the midst of this visual recession a lamp article stands steady in the middle to arrest ours gaze indigenous going right out the ago of the painting. Caillebotte has the little metal eight at the top right the the write-up to straight us again follow me a horizontal path, now maintaining us indigenous traveling turn off the optimal of the canvas. As reasonably spare as the left next of the job-related is, the artist crams the appropriate side through hard-edged and organic shapes and forms in a complex play of positive and an adverse space.

The perspective mechanism is a cultural convention fine suited to a timeless western european idea that the “truth,” the is, an accurate, clean rendition of observed reality. Also after the creation of linear perspective, many artists and also cultures ongoing to usage other means to show pictorial space, relying ~ above overlapping, size differences (smaller=further), vertical location (lower=closer; higher=further), aerial or atmospheric view (hazy, much less detailed-further; clear, crisp, detailed=closer). THESE room IMPORTANT! MAKE sure YOU understand WHAT lock MEAN.

Examine the miniature painting of the Third Court of the Topkapi Palace from fourteenth-century Turkey to comparison its pictorial space with the of direct perspective. It’s written from a number of different vantage clues (as protest to noodles points), all an extremely flat come the picture plane. While the overall image is checked out from above, the figures and also trees appear as cutouts, seeming to float in mid air. Notice the towers ~ above the far left and also right room sideways come the photo plane. The trees and people occupying the upper parts are expected to be viewed as more from the viewer as contrasted to those trees, buildings and people situated near the bottom the the painting. This is an instance of upright placement.

As “incorrect” as it looks, the painting does provide a detailed summary of the landscape and also structures top top the palace grounds.


Third Court that the Topkapi Palace, indigenous the Hunername, 1548. Footrest miniature painting, Topkapi Museum, Istanbul. CC BY-SA

After practically five century using linear perspective, western ideas about how space is depicted accurately in 2 dimensions went v a revolution at the start of the 20th century. A young Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, relocated to Paris, climate western culture’s resources of art, and also largely revolutionized pictorial room with the innovation of Cubism, ushered in considerably by his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907. That was affected in part by the chiseled forms, angular surfaces and also disproportion of afri sculpture (refer ago to the Male Figure from Cameroon) and mask-like faces of early on Iberian artworks. For much more information around this important painting, listen to the following question and answer.

In the at an early stage 20th century, Picasso, his girlfriend Georges Braque and a handful of various other artists struggled to construct a new space the relied on, ironically, the flatness the the snapshot plane to carry and animate timeless subject matter including figures, quiet life and also landscape. Cubist pictures, and also eventually sculptures, ended up being amalgams of different points of view, irradiate sources and planar constructs. It was as if they to be presenting your subject matter in many ways in ~ once, all the while changing foreground, center ground and also background for this reason the viewer is not certain where one starts and also the other ends. In an interview, the artist described cubism this way: “The difficulty is currently to pass, to go approximately the object, and give a plastic expression to the result. All of this is my battle to break through the two-dimensional aspect*”(from Alexander Liberman, An Artist in His Studio, 1960, page 113). Windy and critical reaction to cubism was understandably negative, however the artists’ experiments v spatial relationships reverberated v others and became – along with brand-new ways that using color – a driving force in the development of a modern art activity that based itself on the flatness the the photo plane. Rather of a home window to look at into, the flat surface becomes a soil on i m sorry to construct formal species of shapes, colors and also compositions. For another perspective ~ above this idea, refer earlier to module one’s discussion of ‘abstraction’.

You can see the radical alters cubism made in George Braque’s see La Roche Guyon from 1909. The trees, houses, castle and surrounding rocks comprise nearly a single facility form, stair-stepping up the canvas come mimic the remote hill at the top, every one of it struggling upwards and also leaning to the best within a shallow pictorial space.


George Braque, Castle in ~ La Roche Guyon, 1909. Oil ~ above canvas. Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Licensed v GNU and an imaginative Commons

As the cubist layout developed, the forms ended up being even flatter. Juan Gris’s The Sunblind from 1914 splays the still life the represents across the canvas. Collage elements like newspaper reinforce photographic flatness.


Juan Gris, The Sunblind, 1914. Gouache, collage, chalk, and charcoal on canvas. Tate Gallery, London. Image licensed under GNU cost-free Documentation License

It’s not so an overwhelming to know the prominence of this brand-new idea of an are when put in the context of comparable breakthroughs in science bordering the rotate of the nineteenth century. The bright Brothers took to the air v powered flight in 1903, the very same year Marie Curie winner the first of two Nobel prizes for her pioneering work-related in radiation. Sigmund Freud’s new ideas ~ above the within spaces the the mind and also its result on actions were released in 1902, and also Albert Einstein’s calculations ~ above relativity, the idea that an are and time room intertwined, an initial appeared in 1905. Every of this discoveries included to person understanding and realligned the way we look in ~ ourselves and our world. Indeed, Picasso, speaking of his battle to specify cubism, stated “Even Einstein go not recognize it either! The problem of exploration is outside ourselves; but the terrifying point is that in spite of all this, we have the right to only discover what us know” (from Picasso ~ above Art, A selection of Views by Dore Ashton, (Souchere, 1960, web page 15).

5. Value and Contrast

Value (or tone) is the family member lightness or darkness the a shape in relationship to another. The worth scale, bounded ~ above one finish by pure white and also on the other by black, and also in between a series of significantly darker shades of grey, offers an artist the devices to make these transformations. The value scale listed below shows the standard variations in tones. Values near the lighter end of the spectrum space termed high-keyed, those top top the darker end are low-keyed.


Value Scale, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison, CC BY

In 2 dimensions, the use of value gives a form the illusion of form or mass and lends an entire composition a sense of light and shadow. The two examples below show the effect value has actually on an altering a form to a form.


2D Form, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison, CC BY

This same an approach brings come life what begins as a straightforward line illustration of a young man’s head in Michelangelo’s Head that a Youth and a ideal Hand from 1508. Shading is created with heat (refer to our discussion of line previously in this module) or tones produced with a pencil. Artists differ the tones by the amount of resistance castle use between the pencil and also the paper they’re illustration on. A drawing pencil’s leads differ in hardness, each one giving a different tone than another. Washes of octopus or color create values determined by the lot of water the medium is dissolved into.

The usage of high contrast, placing lighter locations of value against much darker ones, creates a dramatic effect, while low contrast gives an ext subtle results. These distinctions in effect are apparent in ‘Guiditta and also Oloferne’ by the Italian painter Caravaggio, and Robert Adams’ photo Untitled, Denver from 1970-74. Caravaggio offers a high comparison palette to an already dramatic step to rise the visual anxiety for the viewer, while Adams deliberately makes use the low comparison to underscore the drabness the the landscape surrounding the figure on the bicycle.


Caravaggio, Guiditta Decapitates Oloferne, 1598, oil ~ above canvas. National Gallery that Italian Art, Rome. This occupational is in the general public domain

6. Color

Color is the most facility artistic element because that the combinations and variations inherent in the use. People respond to shade combinations differently, and artists study and use shade in part to give desired direction to your work.

Color is basic to numerous forms the art. The relevance, usage and role in a offered work rely on the medium of that work. While some concepts dealing with shade are generally applicable across media, others are not.

The complete spectrum of colors is contained in white light. Humans perceive colors from the light reflected off objects. A red object, for example, looks red because it reflects the red component of the spectrum. It would certainly be a different shade under a different light. Shade theory very first appeared in the 17th century once English mathematician and also scientist sir Isaac Newton discovered that white light can be separated into a spectrum by pass it v a prism.

The examine of shade in art and design frequently starts through color theory. Color theory splits up colors right into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The simple tool supplied is a color wheel, emerged by Isaac Newton in 1666. A more complicated model recognized as the color tree, developed by Albert Munsell, mirrors the spectrum consisted of of sets of tints and shades on connected planes.

There room a variety of approaches to organizing colors into meaningful relationships. Many systems different in framework only.

Traditional Model

Traditional color theory is a qualitative effort to theorem colors and their relationships. It is based upon Newton’s color wheel, and continues to it is in the most usual system provided by artists.

Traditional shade theory supplies the same ethics as subtractive color mixing (see below) but prefers various primary colors.

The primary colors space red, blue, and also yellow. You find them equidistant from each other on the shade wheel. These room the “elemental” colors; not developed by mixing any kind of other colors, and also all various other colors are acquired from some combination of this three.The secondary colors space orange (mix of red and also yellow), environment-friendly (mix that blue and also yellow), and violet (mix that blue and red).The tertiary colors are obtained by mix one main color and also one an additional color. Relying on amount of color used, different hues deserve to be acquired such as red-orange or yellow-green. Neutral color (browns and also grays) have the right to be mixed using the three main colors together.White and black lie exterior of these categories. Castle are supplied to lighten or darken a color. A lighter color (made by including white come it) is dubbed a tint, when a darker shade (made by adding black) is called a shade.

Color Mixing

Think about color as the result of light mirroring off a surface. Taken in this way, shade can be represented as a ratio of quantities of primary shade mixed together. Color is created when components of the outside light source’s spectrum are absorbed by the material and not reflected earlier to the viewer’s eye. For example, a painter brushes blue paint onto a canvas. The chemistry composition the the repaint allows every one of the color in the spectrum to be absorbed except blue, i m sorry is reflected from the paint’s surface. Common applications that subtractive color theory are supplied in the intuitive arts, color printing and processing photographic positives and negatives.

The primary colors room red, yellow, and also blue.The secondary colors are orange, green and violet.The tertiary colors are created by mix a primary with a an additional color.Black is blended using the three main colors, if white represents the absence of all colors. Note: since of impurities in subtractive color, a true black is impossible to create through the mixture that primaries. Thus the an outcome is closer come brown. Comparable to additive shade theory, lightness and darkness the a shade is figured out by that intensity and also density.

Color Attributes

There space many qualities to color. Every one has an impact on just how we awareness it.

Hue refers to shade itself, but likewise to the sport of a color.Value (as discussed previously)refers to the loved one lightness or darkness the one color next to another. The worth of a shade can make a distinction in how it is perceived. A color on a dark background will appear lighter, while that same shade on a irradiate background will appear darker.Saturation refers come the purity and intensity the a color. The primaries are the most intense and pure, yet diminish as they are mixed to form other colors. The development of tints and also shades likewise diminish a color’s saturation. 2 colors occupational strongest together as soon as they re-superstructure the exact same intensity.

Color Interactions

Beyond producing a mix hierarchy, shade theory also provides tools for understanding just how colors work together.


The simplest color interaction is monochrome. This is the usage of sport of a solitary hue. The advantage of utilizing a monochromatic shade scheme is the you gain a high level that unity throughout the artwork because all the tones relate to one another. View this in mark Tansey’s Derrida Queries de Man from 1990.

Analogous Color

Analogous colors are comparable to one another. As their surname implies, analogous colors deserve to be uncovered next to one one more on any type of 12-part color wheel:

You have the right to see the impact of analogous colour in Paul Cezanne’s oil paint Auvers Panoromic View

Color Temperature

Colors are viewed to have temperatures associated with them. The color wheel is split into warm and cool colors. Warm colors range from yellow come red, if cool colors selection from yellow-green to violet. You have the right to achieve complicated results using simply a few colors when you pair them in warm and also cool sets.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors room found straight opposite one one more on a color wheel. Below are some examples:

purple and yellowgreen and also redorange and blue

Blue and orange space complements. When placed near each other, complements create a visual tension. This color scheme is preferable when a dramatic result is required using only two colors.

7. Texture

At the most simple level, Three-dimensional works of arts (sculpture, pottery, textiles, metalwork, etc.) and architecture have actually actual texture i beg your pardon is often determined by the material that was supplied to create it: wood, stone, bronze, clay, etc. Two-dimensional functions of art like paintings, drawings, and also prints may shot to present implied texture v the usage of lines, colors, or other ways. When a painting has a most actual structure from the applications of special paint, we contact that impasto.

The an initial image listed below is a sculpture, and also like all three-dimensional objects it has actual texture.

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The next two pictures are details indigenous the paint The Arnolfini Portrait by january van Eyck. Here, the artist has produced implied texture. If you were to touch this paint you would certainly not feeling the cloth of the clothing and also carpet, the wood floor or the smooth metal of the chandelier, yet our eye “see” the texture.