Fugli's Fantasy Forge
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Line Basics

The most basic visual conceptions begin with line. Our most primitive artistic instincts result in line. Line is a starting point because it allows us to consolidate thoughts that may otherwise might never be experienced. If you wish to draw, you must master the concept of line.

Line divides space

Ask a mathematician, and they will give you a different theoretical answer about line. For an artist, line divides, breaks up, and compartmentalizes space. Get a piece of paper and draw a horizontal line through the middle.

You have just divided the top of the paper from the bottom. Vertical lines divide left from right. Make a square or circle and you divide inside from outside. Wherever you make a line it divides something into parts and areas. It gives us something that can either be crossed or not crossed.

Line also can show expression. When we describe a line we can use various measurements including length, angle, density (how dark) and color. What becomes the most difficult aspect to measure about a line is a concept called quality.

Make a line that slithers,

or one that looks angry.

Can you imagine drawing a picture using timid

or energetic lines?

Controlling the curve, angle, density, length, and color of a line can create many different feelings. The feelings that may be elicited by a line are usually described with adjectives. This idea of a line perpetuating a feeling is most commonly referred to as line quality. Make some lines on paper and consider their qualities. Are they light or dark? smooth or rough? How do they make you feel? Do you think you could control the way someone else feels with your lines?

Test yourself and ask a friend what they might feel from looking at each of your lines. Look at your signature and decide what sort of line quality it conveys. Is it neat or sloppy? Is it bold or cowardly? Here are the characteristic signatures of some artists. What can you tell from their use of line on such a small portion of a picture or painting?

For practice you will want:

  1. Several sheets of white 8.5" x 11" copy paper
  2. A box of colored pencils

Turn your paper sideways so it is wider than it is tall and write a short word in the center of your page. Decorate the letters and page with lines that help describe the word on your page. Below is a list of simple word suggestions.

Love Fire Logs Push Bolt Soft Face Jazz Rope Cool Move Fish Idol Race Claw Star Foam Grit Rage Bull Stop Lace Hate Fool Mist Loud Navy Hope Fear Moon Lazy Nuts Real True Vote Noon Hair Doom Maze


Try this exercise several times using different words. Put a lot of effort into them and place these designs into a folder so you can refer to them when you are trying to create different line qualities later on.

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