Line art is a type of art that uses lines to create shapes, patterns, and images. It can be simple, like a doodle, or complex, like a detailed drawing. Line art is often black and white, but it can also be coloured.
People use line art in a variety of fields, including art, graphic design, architecture, and engineering. Line art is also popular among artists who work in tattooing and jewellery design.
In this guide, find out what line art is, some examples of line art and some ideas of how to create your very own line art drawings.
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Line art definition
The definition of line art is any image that uses distinct lines to create an art piece, usually to represent a three dimensional object. Artists will draw lines on a plain background, without any transitions in hue or value.
The term “line art” can refer to any drawing that consists of nothing but lines. This includes geometric shapes, and free-form drawings. Line art is also used to describe the final product of an artist’s work, as opposed to preliminary sketches or studies.
The lines in line art can be of different colours, thicknesses, and directions. Use these variations to create deliberate effects. For example, parallel lines create a feeling of light or space, while jagged lines represent organic matter like trees.
Line in art is defined as a mark with length and direction but no width or depth. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal; straight, curved, or zigzag; thick or thin.
Elements of art: Line
Line is a visual element in art. It’s one of the most basic components that artists arrange on the surface to make their final piece. Artists can draw with a line to make contour drawings, or continuous line drawings which are both types of line art.
Types of line in art
There are three main types of line in art:
In drawings and sketches, contour lines map out the subject’s form. The artist uses a pencil or pen to trace the object’s outermost edge, and outline a few important details.
Implied lines are created when two or more points in a drawing are connected by the viewer’s eye. Artists make these lines with shadow, value and broken lines, to form a shape, rather than one straight unbroken line. Use this type of line to create movement or direct the viewer’s gaze to a particular area in the artwork.
Create gestural lines with quick, expressive strokes that show the artist’s feelings or emotions. Gesture drawings and abstract drawings often include these types of lines, where the artist has used bold brushstrokes to create a work with energy and movement.
Lines vary in length, thickness, curvature. They can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal, straight, curved or zigzag.
Horizontal lines are lines that run from left to right across a piece of artwork.
Vertical lines are lines that run from top to bottom in a piece of artwork.
Diagonal lines are lines that run at an angle across a piece of artwork.
Curved lines are lines that are not straight, but instead have a curved or wavy shape.
Zigzag lines are lines that have a series of sharp turns or angles. These lines can create a feeling of movement or action.
The thickness of a line can also create different effects, artists can use the thickness of line to represent elements that are closer to the viewer in an artwork. For example, the main subject and focal of a painting could have thicker lines compared to objects in the background.
Contour line drawing
Contour line drawing is a type of line drawing in which the artist uses a pencil or pen to trace the outermost edge of an object. The resulting image is made up of a series of connected lines that show the shape of the subject. Pencil artists can choose to omit small details, but include the main details.
Artists create contour line drawings to draw a realistic or abstract representation of an object with just line. Artists will often start an artwork with a basic outline to establish the proportions and composition early on, which they will then shade or fill with colour.
Cross contour line drawing
Cross contour line drawing is a type of contour line drawing where the artist draws a series of connected lines that criss-cross over the surface of the object. Use cross contour drawings to create a more three-dimensional image, and to show the form of an object more clearly.
When drawing with cross contour lines, the artist often starts by drawing a few basic lines to map out the composition. They then add more lines that follow the curves and contours of the object. These additional lines help to create a sense of depth and volume. The cross contour lines show the contours of the form of the subject, in three dimensional space.
Can you shade with line?
Artists can shade using line only, with the cross hatching or hatching techniques. This is useful for artists who work with mediums that don’t allow denotation of value by applying pressure to the drawing medium. For example, if you apply pressure to a pencil, you can shade with the tonal shading technique. Marks get darker with the more pressure the artist applies. However, artists cannot achieve the same results with ink or pen when tonal shading. This is why it’s pretty much essential to use techniques like hatching or cross hatching to create shadow.
Hatching is a drawing technique that uses a series of parallel lines to create value or shading. The lines can be close together or far apart, and can be drawn in any direction.
Hatching can be used to create soft gradations of shadow and it can also be used to create bolder, more defined areas of darkness. To hatch, an artist will use a pencil or pen to draw a series of close parallel lines. The closer together the lines are, the darker the value will be.
Hatching is often used in combination with other drawing techniques, such as cross hatching and stippling.
Cross hatching is a drawing technique that uses a series of intersecting lines to create value or shading. The lines can be close together or far apart, and can be drawn in any direction.
Cross hatching can be used to create soft gradations of shadow. It can also be used to create bolder, more defined areas of darkness. To cross hatch, an artist will use a pencil or pen to draw a series of intersecting lines. The closer together the lines are, the darker the value will be.
Cross hatching is often used in combination with other drawing techniques, such as hatching and stippling.
Line art is an incredibly fun form of art to practice and it’s easy to start. Check out our guide on drawing exercises if you want to improve your drawing skills. It will give you ideas on how to practice and improve. If you’re a complete beginner, head to our Facebook group, where we’re giving away a free eBook for all of our readers that join! Download ‘A Complete Drawing Guide for Beginners’ from the group’s ‘Guides’ section. On the group you can share your art and tips with other artists!