Elements: Line

One of the most fundamental elements of art is the line. Lines are extremely expressive and “line” is a core building block of several other “Elements of Art.” For instance, “shape” cannot be produced without lines, and many textures would be impossible without the concept of a line.

What is a line?

A line is the path of a moving point-that is, a mark made by a tool or instrument as it is drawn across a surface. It can also be defined as the distance between two defined points in space. Its length is distinctly greater than its width.

What are some general types of lines?


A line that creates a boundary separating an area of space from its surrounding background.

contour line


The line that defines a surface’s of a form between the outermost edges of the form.

cross contour line


The use of flowing rhythmical lines similar to the individual qualities found in handwriting. It means “beautiful writing.”

calligraphic line


The quality that emphasizes the two-dimensional nature of any of the visual elements. Decoration enriches a surface without denying the essential flatness of its nature.

decorative line

Some ways to describe lines:

geometric line
Curvilinear, organic, biomorphic

Digital Art, Design, and Communication Education