1. Line

There are countless different types of lines, all characterized by their size being better than your width. Lines have the right to be revolution or dynamic depending upon how the artist chooses to use them. They aid determine the motion, direction and energy in a job-related of art. We view line all roughly us in our day-to-day lives; call wires, tree branches, jet contrails and also winding roadways are simply a few examples. Look in ~ the photograph listed below to see exactly how line is component of natural and also constructed environments.

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In this image of a lightning storm we deserve to see plenty of different lines. Definitely the jagged, meandering lines of the lightning itself overcome the image, complied with by the straight lines of the skyline structures and also the coast line. There are much more subtle currently too, like the lights along the buildings. Currently are even implied by the reflect in the water.

The Nazca lines in the arid seaside plains that Peru day to almost 500 BCE to be scratched right into the rocky soil, depicting pets on an remarkable scale, so big that castle are best viewed indigenous the air. Let’s look at exactly how the various kinds of line room made.


Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas from 1656, ostensibly a portrait the the Infanta Margarita, the daughter the King Philip IV and Queen Mariana that Spain, uses a luxury amount of imaginative genius; that is sheer dimension (almost ten feet square), painterly style of naturalism, lighting effects, and the enigmatic numbers placed throughout the canvas–including the artist himself –is one of the good paintings in western arts history. Let’s research it (below) to uncover exactly how Velazquez uses an easy elements and also principles of art to accomplish such a masterpiece.


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

Actual lines are those that room physically present. The sheet of the wooden stretcher bar in ~ the left of Las Meninas is an yes, really line, as space the snapshot frames in the background and the linear decorative aspects on some of the figures’ dresses. How plenty of other yes, really lines deserve to you find in the painting?

Implied present are those created by visually connecting 2 or more areas together. The gaze to the Infanta Margarita—the blonde main figure in the composition—from the meninas, or maids the honor, to the left and also right of her, are implied lines. Lock visually affix the figures. By visually connecting the an are between the heads of all the numbers in the painting we have a feeling of jagged include line the keeps the lower component of the composition in motion, balanced versus the darker, much more static upper areas of the painting. Implied lines can likewise be produced when two areas of various colors or tones come together. Have the right to you identify more implied currently in the painting? Where? Implied present are discovered in three-dimensional artworks, too. The sculpture that the Laocoon below, a figure from Greek and Roman mythology, is, along with his sons, gift strangled through sea snakes sent by the goddess Athena together wrath against his warnings to the Trojans not to expropriate the Trojan horse. The sculpture set implied present in motion as the numbers writhe in agony against the snakes.


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

Straight or standard lines provide framework to a composition. They can be oriented come the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal axis that a surface. Right lines room by nature visually stable, if still providing direction come a composition. In Las Meninas, you deserve to see lock in the canvas supports on the left, the wall surface supports and doorways top top the right, and in the elevator in matrices on the wall spaces in between the framed pictures. Moreover, the tiny horizontal lines produced in the stair edge in the background aid anchor the whole visual architecture of the painting. Vertical and horizontal straight lines provide the most stable compositions. Diagonal straight lines are usually much more visually dynamic, unstable, and tension-filled.


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

Expressive currently are curved, adding an organic, more dynamic personality to a occupational of art. Expressive lines are regularly rounded and also follow undetermined paths. In Las Meninas you deserve to see lock in the aprons on the girls’ dresses and also in the dog’s urgently hind leg and also coat pattern. Look at again in ~ the Laocoon to view expressive currently in the figures’ flailing limbs and also the sinuous form of the snakes. Indeed, the sculpture seems to be consisted of of nothing yet expressive lines, shapes and also forms.


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

There are other kinds of line that incorporate the features of those above yet, take away together, assist create additional artistic elements and richer, much more varied compositions. Describe the images and also examples listed below to end up being familiar with these varieties of line.

Outline, or contour line is the most basic of these. They develop a path about the sheet of a shape. In fact, outlines often define shapes.


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

Hatch lines are recurring at quick intervals in usually one direction. They offer shading and visual texture to the surface of one object.


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

Crosshatch currently provide extr tone and texture. They can be oriented in any kind of direction. Multiple great of crosshatch currently can offer rich and also varied shading come objects by manipulating the push of the illustration tool to produce a huge 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. Certain lines have attributes that differentiate them from others. Hard-edged, jagged lines have actually a staccato visual movement while organic, flowing lines produce a much more comfortable feeling. Meandering lines can be either geometric or expressive, and you can see in the instances how their indeterminate paths animate a surface ar to different degrees.


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

Although line together a visual aspect generally plays a supporting duty in visual art, there are wonderful instances in which heat carries a strong cultural significance as the primary subject matter.

Calligraphic currently use quickness and also gesture, an ext akin to repaint strokes, to imbue one artwork v a fluid, lyrical character. To view this distinct line quality, look up the job-related of Chinese poet and artist Dong Qichang, dating from the Ming dynasty (1555-1637). A more geometric instance from the Koran, produced in the Arabic calligraphic style, dates from the ninth century.

Both this examples present how artists usage line as both a type of writing and a visual art form. American artist mark Tobey (1890–1976) was influenced by asian calligraphy, adapting its type to the act of pure painting within a modern-day abstract style explained as white writing.

2. Shape

A shape is characterized as an attached area in 2 dimensions. By an interpretation shapes are always flat, yet the combination of shapes, color, and also other means can do shapes appear three-dimensional, as forms. Shapes deserve to be created in plenty of ways, the easiest by enclosing one area with an outline. Lock can likewise be make by bordering an area with various other shapes or the location of various textures beside each other—for instance, the form of an island surrounded by water. Due to the fact that they are more facility than lines, shapes are usually much more important in the plan of compositions. The examples below give united state an idea of exactly how shapes are made.


Geometric Shapes, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison. CC BY

Referring ago to Velazquez’s Las Meninas, that is basically an setup of shapes; organic and also hard-edged, light, dark and also mid-toned, the solidifies the composition within the larger shape the the canvas. Looking at it this way, we have the right to view any work that art, whether two or three-dimensional, realistic, abstract or non-objective, in state of forms alone.

Geometric shapes vs. Organic Shapes

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

3. Form

Form is periodically used to describe a form that has actually an implied third dimension. In various other words, an artist may try to make parts of a level image appear three-dimensional. Notice in the drawing listed below how the artist makes the different shapes appear three-dimensional v the use of shading. It’s a level image but appears three-dimensional.

When an image is exceptionally realistic in regards to its creates (as well together color, space, etc.) such together this painting by Edwaert Collier, we speak to that trompe l’oeil, French for “fool the eye.”

Edweart Collier, Trompe l’oeil v Writing Materials,oil on canvas, c. 1702.This image is in the general public domain.

4. Space

Space is the empty area neighboring or between real or implied objects. Humans categorize space: over there is external space, that countless void us enter beyond our sky; within space, which stays in people’s minds and also imaginations, and personal space, the important yet intangible area the surrounds each individual and also which is violated if someone else gets too close. Pictorial space is flat, and the digital realm stays in cyberspace. Art responds to every one of these type of space.

Many artists space as involved with room in their works as they space with, say, color or form. Over there are plenty of ways for the artist come present concepts of space. Remember that many cultures traditionally usage pictorial space as a home window to check out realistic subject matter through, and through the subject issue they present ideas, narratives and symbolic content. The invention of linear perspective, an comprise geometric pictorial construct dating from fifteenth-century Europe, affords united state the accurate illusion the three-dimensional space on a flat surface, and appears come recede right into the distance with the use of a horizon line and vanishing point(s). You can see exactly how one-point direct perspective is collection up in the instances below:


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

One-point perspective occurs when the receding lines show up to converge at a solitary point top top the horizon and also used as soon as the level front of an item is encountering the viewer. Note: Perspective can be supplied to show the relative size and recession into an are of any kind of object, but is most reliable with hard-edged three-dimensional objects such together buildings.

A classic Renaissance artwork making use of one suggest perspective is Leonardo da Vinci’s The critical Supper from 1498. Da Vinci composes the work-related by locating the vanishing suggest directly behind the head the Christ, thus illustration the viewer’s attention to the center. His arms mirror the receding wall lines, and, if we follow them together lines, would converge at the exact same vanishing point.

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

Two-point perspective occurs as soon as the vertical edge the a cube is encountering the viewer, exposing 2 sides the recede right into the distance, one to each noodles point.


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

View Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, rainy Weather from 1877 come see exactly how two-point perspective is offered to give specific view to an metropolitan scene. The artist’s composition, however, is more complicated than simply his usage of perspective. The figures are deliberately put to straight the viewer’s eye native the front right of the snapshot to the building’s front edge on the left, which, favor a ship’s bow, acts as a cleaver to plunge both sides toward the horizon. In the middle of this visual recession a lamp article stands firmly in the middle to arrest our gaze native going best out the back of the painting. Caillebotte has the little metal arm at the height right the the short article to direct us again along a horizontal path, now maintaining us indigenous traveling off the height of the canvas. As relatively spare together the left side of the job-related is, the artist crams the best side v hard-edged and also organic shapes and also forms in a facility play of confident and an adverse space.

The perspective mechanism is a cultural convention well suited come a timeless western european idea the the “truth,” the is, one accurate, clear rendition of observed reality. Also after the innovation of straight perspective, plenty of cultures traditionally usage a flatter photographic space, relying top top overlapping, size differences, or vertical placement of components in a two-dimensional work of art. Examine the miniature paint of the Third Court that the Topkapi Palace from fourteenth-century Turkey to contrast its pictorial space with the of direct perspective. It’s composed from a variety of different vantage points (as opposed to noodles points), all very flat come the snapshot plane. If the as whole image is checked out from above, the figures and trees show up as cutouts, seeming come float in mid air. An alert the towers on the far left and also right are sideways come the snapshot plane. The trees and people occupying the upper components of the picture are supposed to be regarded as further from the viewer as compared to those trees, buildings and people situated near the bottom the the painting. This is an example of vertical placement.

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


Third Court the the Topkapi Palace, from the Hunername, 1548. Ottoman miniature painting, Topkapi Museum, Istanbul. CC BY-SA

After almost five hundred years using linear perspective, western ideas around how room is depicted accurately in 2 dimensions went through a transformation at the start of the 20th century. A young Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, relocated to Paris, climate western culture’s resources of art, and largely revolutionized pictorial room with the creation of Cubism, ushered in considerably by his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907. That was influenced in component by the chiseled forms, angular surfaces and also disproportion of afri sculpture (refer earlier to the Male Figure from Cameroon) and also mask-like deals with of beforehand Iberian artworks. For much more information about this necessary painting, listen to the following question and answer.

In the early on 20th century, Picasso, his girlfriend Georges Braque and a grasp of various other artists struggled to develop a brand-new space the relied on, ironically, the flatness that the picture plane come carry and animate classic subject matter consisting of figures, quiet life and landscape. Cubist pictures, and eventually sculptures, ended up being amalgams of various points of view, irradiate sources and planar constructs. That was as if they to be presenting their subject issue in many ways in ~ once, all the while moving foreground, middle ground and also background so the viewer is not sure where one starts and also the various other ends. In an interview, the artist defined cubism this way: “The difficulty is currently to pass, come go around the object, and also give a plastic expression to the result. Every one of this is my struggle to break through the two-dimensional aspect*”(from Alexander Liberman, An Artist in His Studio, 1960, page 113). Windy and critical reaction come cubism to be understandably negative, yet the artists’ experiments v spatial relationship reverberated with others and also became – along with brand-new ways of using color – a driving pressure in the breakthrough of a contemporary art movement that based itself on the flatness the the photo plane. Instead of a home window to look into, the level surface i do not care a soil on which to build formal kinds of shapes, colors and compositions. For another perspective on this idea, refer earlier to module one’s discussion of ‘abstraction’.

You have the right to see the radical transforms cubism make in George Braque’s see La Roche Guyon from 1909. The trees, houses, castle and also surrounding rocks comprise virtually a single complex form, stair-stepping up the canvas come mimic the remote hill in ~ the top, all of it struggling upwards and also leaning to the best within a shallow pictorial space.


George Braque, Castle at La Roche Guyon, 1909. Oil top top canvas. Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Licensed v GNU and an innovative Commons

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


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

It’s no so an overwhelming to recognize the prominence of this brand-new idea of space when put in the context of comparable advancements in science neighboring the turn of the nineteenth century. The bright Brothers required to the air through powered flight in 1903, the same year Marie Curie winner the first of 2 Nobel prizes for her pioneering occupational in radiation. Sigmund Freud’s new ideas on the inside spaces of the mind and also its result on actions were released in 1902, and also Albert Einstein’s calculations top top relativity, the idea that an are and time are intertwined, first appeared in 1905. Each of this discoveries added to person understanding and also realligned the method we look at ourselves and our world. Indeed, Picasso, speak of his battle to define cubism, stated “Even Einstein walk not understand it either! The condition of discovery is exterior ourselves; yet the terrifying thing is that despite all this, we can only discover what we know” (from Picasso on Art, A choice of Views by Dore Ashton, (Souchere, 1960, web page 15).

Three-dimensional an are doesn’t experience this basic transformation. It continues to be a visual and actual relationship between positive and an adverse spaces.

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 on one end by pure white and on the various other by black, and in in between a series of significantly darker shades the grey, offers an artist the devices to make these transformations. The worth scale listed below shows the conventional variations in tones. Values near the lighter finish of the spectrum space termed high-keyed, those on the darker end are low-keyed.


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

In two dimensions, the use of value gives a shape the illusion of kind or mass and lends an entire composition a feeling of light and also shadow. The two examples listed below show the result value has on changing a form to a form.

This same an approach brings come life what starts as a an easy line drawing of a young masculine head in Michelangelo’s Head of a Youth and a appropriate Hand from 1508. Shading is produced with line (refer come our conversation of line previously in this module) or tones developed with a pencil. Artists differ the tones through the lot of resistance lock use between the pencil and also the paper they’re illustration on. A illustration pencil’s leads differ in hardness, every one giving a various tone 보다 another. Washes of squid or color create values determined by the lot of water the medium is dissolved into.

The use of high contrast, placing lighter areas of value against much darker ones, create a dramatic effect, while low comparison gives an ext subtle results. These differences in effect are evident in ‘Guiditta and Oloferne’ through the Italian painter Caravaggio, and also Robert Adams’ picture Untitled, Denver from 1970-74. Caravaggio uses a high contrast palette to an currently dramatic step to increase the visual stress and anxiety for the viewer, while Adams deliberately makes use the low comparison to underscore the drabness that the landscape surrounding the figure on the bicycle.


Caravaggio, Guiditta Decapitates Oloferne, 1598, oil ~ above canvas. Nationwide Gallery of Italian Art, Rome. This work is in the general public domain

6. Color

Color is the most complex artistic element because that the combinations and variations natural in its use. Human beings respond to shade combinations differently, and artists study and use shade in component to give preferred direction to their work.

Color is an essential to many forms that art. The relevance, use and duty in a given work count on the tool of that work. When some principles dealing with shade are generally applicable throughout media, others space not.

The full spectrum of colors is included in white light. Human beings perceive colors native the irradiate reflected turn off objects. A red object, because that example, looks red since it mirrors the red part of the spectrum. It would certainly be a different color under a different light. Color theory an initial appeared in the 17th century when English mathematician and also scientist teacher Isaac Newton discovered that white light could be separated into a spectrum by passing it v a prism.

The research of color in art and also design frequently starts v color theory. Color theory splits increase colors right into three categories: primary, secondary, and also tertiary.

The straightforward tool provided is a shade wheel, developed by Isaac Newton in 1666. A more facility model recognized as the color tree, created by Albert Munsell, mirrors the spectrum made up of to adjust of tints and also shades on connected planes.

There space a number of approaches to arranging colors into systematic relationships. Most systems different in framework only.

Traditional Model

Traditional shade theory is a qualitative attempt to organize colors and their relationships. It is based upon Newton’s color wheel, and also continues to it is in the most common system provided by artists.

Traditional shade theory supplies the same principles as subtractive color mixing (see below) however prefers different primary colors.

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

Color Mixing

Think about color as the result of light reflecting off a surface. Understood in this way, shade can be represented as a ratio of amounts of primary shade mixed together. Shade is developed when components of the external light source’s spectrum are soaked up by the material and not reflected back to the viewer’s eye. For example, a artist brushes blue paint onto a canvas. The chemistry composition the the repaint allows every one of the colors in the spectrum to be soaked up except blue, which is reflect from the paint’s surface. Typical applications of subtractive shade theory are offered in the visual arts, shade printing and processing photographic positives and also negatives.

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

Color Attributes

There room many characteristics to color. Every one has actually an effect on how we perceive it.

Hue refers to shade itself, but likewise to the sports of a color.Value (as debated previously)refers to the relative lightness or darkness that one shade next come another. The value of a color can do a distinction in just how it is perceived. A shade on a dark background will show up lighter, while that same shade on a irradiate background will show up darker.Saturation refers come the purity and also intensity the a color. The primaries are the many intense and also pure, however diminish together they are mixed to kind other colors. The creation of tints and shades also diminish a color’s saturation. 2 colors work strongest together when they share the same intensity.

Color Interactions

Beyond creating a mix hierarchy, shade theory additionally provides devices for understanding just how colors job-related together.


The simplest shade interaction is monochrome. This is the usage of variations of a single hue. The benefit of using a monochromatic color scheme is the you gain a high level of unity throughout the artwork because all the tones relate come one another. View this in note Tansey’s Derrida Queries de Man from 1990.

Analogous Color

Analogous colour are comparable to one another. As their surname implies, analogous colors have the right to be discovered next come one one more on any type of 12-part color wheel:

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

Color Temperature

Colors are perceived to have temperatures associated with them. The color wheel is separated into warm and cool colors. Warmth colors selection from yellow come red, while cool colors range from yellow-green to violet. You have the right to achieve complex results using simply a few colors once you pair them in warm and also cool sets.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors room found directly opposite one one more on a shade wheel. Below are part examples:

purple and yellowgreen and also redorange and blue

Blue and orange room complements. When put near each other, complements create a intuitive tension. This shade scheme is desirable when a dramatic effect is required using just two colors.

7. Texture

At the most an easy level, Three-dimensional works of art (sculpture, pottery, textiles, metalwork, etc.) and also architecture have actual texture i beg your pardon is often established by the product that was used to develop it: wood, stone, bronze, clay, etc. Two-dimensional functions of art favor paintings, drawings, and prints may shot to present implied texture v the use of lines, colors, or various other ways. Once a painting has a many actual structure from the applications of special paint, we contact that impasto.

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

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The following two pictures are details indigenous the paint The Arnolfini Portrait by january van Eyck. Here, the artist has developed implied texture. If you to be to touch this paint you would not feeling the towel of the clothing and carpet, the wood floor or the smooth steel of the chandelier, but our eye “see” the texture.