Lines and Curves

When you are creating artwork you will use a variety of design elements. The better your understanding of design elements the easier you will be able to communicate with your graphics.

Design Elements

There are a variety of design elements. On basic terms we are referring to any aspect that contributes to the final graphic. Design elements include:

  • Dot or Point
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Form
  • Value
  • Colour
  • Texture

The Line

We will focus on the Line and the impact a line can have visually, aesthetically and psychologically. Definition: a line is a path with a beginning and an end. It can be defined as the connection between a start point and an end point. Generally a line has one direction, but that direction can be unclear or ambiguous. Lines are 1 dimensional and can vary in style, thickness, direction and length. A line can be real or it can be imaginary or implied. How we understand a line is directly related to our environment and how we understand our environment. A hunter in the stone age needed to read his environment to ensure his survival and successful hunt. Let us look at some lines based on position in detail.

Horizontal Line

A horizontal line suggests calm and a resting position. Humans and most animals will take a horizontal position when resting . Cows seem to be an exception, they sleep in a standing position. If we relate this to our prehistoric ancestor he would view an animal or a stranger in a resting position as less of a threat. A horizontal line may give the illusion of space. In a landscape the horizontal line goes from left to right and suggests continuation of the landscape to both sides. Vertical lines in repetition emphasise stability. Vertical lines have a relaxing effect.

The calming effect of horizontal lines, image: courtesy of flickr.com, Photographer: jaikdean

The calming effect of horizontal lines, image: courtesy of flickr.com, Photographer: jaikdean

Vertical Line

Vertical lines are less stable and give a sense of height. The higher the vertical line reaches the more it can be read as something powerful, heavenly and beyond our reach. Depending on the object vertical lines can give a feeling of change and growth (eg a forest of tall vertical trunks). In architecture the use of vertical lines can give a sense of height and power. Vertical lines can be perceived as a threat, as in a standing person. Our prehistoric ancestor would view strangers and animals in a standing position as awake and potentially aware of his presence. They may even observe him. Vertical lines in repetition can create a strong rhythm. Vertical lines can be perceived as moody.

Vertical lines of a dark fence, image courtesy of p.ic - Photo Internet Collection - www.photoic.wordpress.com, photographer: Federico Viola

Vertical lines of a dark fence, image courtesy of p.ic – Photo Internet Collection – http://www.photoic.wordpress.com, photographer: Federico Viola

Diagonal Line

A diagonal line suggests movement. Objects in diagonal positions can appear unstable, either they are about to fall (as in the image of a falling tree) or they are in motion (a sprinter). In an image that shows perspective the diagonal lines depict the highest and lowest point of a row objects receding into the horizon. The line seems to commence with the object in front and recedes to the vanishing point on the horizon. Diagonal lines will draw the viewer’s gaze into the image. Diagonal lines are very powerful and seemingly in motion. Diagonal lines in repetition emphasise movement and can create a strong rhythm. Diagonal lines can be related to chaos and instability.

Combined Horizontal and Vertical Lines

The combination of the two lines will combine elements of the horizontal line with the qualities of the vertical line. A grid will look extremely stable and strong. A low and wide object will appear stable. A high object will appear strong and important. The rectilinear nature of the lines suggest a building or object that has been built and is structurally stable.

Curve

The lines to this point were related to positioning. The curve is related to the flow of the line. When a line is straight it adds little in the form of character or personality to the line. A straight line looks static and the positioning is the only indicator to the position or level of movement. A curve is very different to that. A curve is energetic and implies change of direction or motion. Gentle curves convey slow, gentle movement and remind us of the sensual qualities of a human body. Gentle curves can have a very pleasing and softening influence on a picture. Like the horizontal line a gentle curve can be relaxing, but it is also stimulating. Sharp curves convey fast, abrupt movements. This can be read as chaos or violent movement, like the struggle for victory between a predator and its prey. Sharp curves and twists can give a composition a chaotic and intense feel.

The gentle curve of the river and the light green tones of the grass give this image a calming feel. The montains and the clouds have a less calming effect. Image: courtesy of Icon Photography School - http://www.photographyicon.com/line/

The gentle curve of the river and the light green tones of the grass give this image a calming feel. The montains and the clouds have a less calming effect. Image: courtesy of Icon Photography School – http://www.photographyicon.com/line/

Steel Curves, Image: courtesy of flickr.com, photographer: Margeois.

Steel Curves, Image: courtesy of flickr.com, photographer: Margeois.

Twisted Curves - Two Wrestlers, Scott Winston and Brandon Hatchett , image: courtesy of Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger, found at NJ.com True Jersey

Twisted Curves – Two Wrestlers, Scott Winston and Brandon Hatchett , image: courtesy of Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger, found at NJ.com True Jersey

Continuous Lines

Continuous lines refer to lines either as a drawn, printed or as the continuation of the edge of a shape or object. We draw our world with the aid of lines, yet in reality there are no lines, but shapes and objects. There are different types of lines distinguishable by their quality: continuous, broken, dotted, thick, thin, hair lines, light, dark, in colour, even, uneven, etc. Every line is treating a subject in a certain way and therefore has a strong impact on the viewer’s emotions and understanding of the work. Lines can add emphasis and give depth to an object. Read more about the quality of lines at a later post.

Implied Line

An implied line may be a connection of objects or the continuation of a rhythm, it can be the continuation of an arrow or pointer or the path of the direction of someone’s eyes looking. It can be a person pointing at something with the index finger.

Michael Pointing in GTA V - Courtesy of Rockstar

Michael Pointing in GTA V – Courtesy of Rockstar

Implied lines are very powerful tools of the graphic designer. A psychological study conducted by researchers at the universities of Exeter and Lincoln found that biological cues, such as eye-gazing and finger-pointing were far more powerful to the human psyche than text-based (left, right) or icon-based cues (arrows). The reasons for this may lay in the fact that a biological cue relates to how we may read a person and a person’s body language. A person might pass on important cues to us with their body language. Looking at something may be a hint that was not given intentionally by the sender (of the information). Read more at: Psychology Study Points to Giving Arrow the Finger at University of Lincoln site. Gestures are powerful visual cue used in graphic design and were ever-present in art of many epochs. Renaissance painters like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci placed visual cues into their paintings that were an indication of the artist’s views, it could represent criticism or say something about the subject. Leonardo’s Last Supper depicting the Jesus at his last supper with his apostles. Each of the hand gestures represent a message or code. There are many examples of finger-pointing in paintings, Michelangelo’s famous ‘Creation of Adam’ that can be found in the Sistine Chapel shows God reaching out to touch Adam. He seems to point at him with his index finger.

Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, Rome, Courtesy of www.livescience.com

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel, Rome, Courtesy of http://www.livescience.com

Many paintings show someone pointing towards heaven. This might show the importance of heaven in Christian belief. In Leonardo’s painting of St. John the Baptist it is believed to signify salvation through baptism that John the Baptist represents.

Leonardo's St. John the Baptist, Louvre, Paris, Image: courtesy of A World History of Art - www.all-art.org

Leonardo’s St. John the Baptist, Louvre, Paris, Image: courtesy of A World History of Art – http://www.all-art.org

In 1914 a poster design by British designer Alfred Leere featured a picture of the British secretary of state for war, Lord Kitchener, pointing directly at the viewer, above the words “wants you.”

Britons, Lord Kitchener Wants You! Propaganda poster design from WWI by Alfred Leere. Image: courtesy of WorldWarEra.com

Britons, Lord Kitchener Wants You! Propaganda poster design from WWI by Alfred Leere. Image: courtesy of WorldWarEra.com

This design carried a powerful message that would stay with the viewer long after seeing the poster. One can only imagine what that poster did to the minds of young men of the early 20th Century. The Leere poster that was released became quite an icon and the concept of the finger pointing at the viewer has been reused in other recruitment posters of WWI and in other designs ever after. The Uncle Sam poster was released in 1916 and became possible more famous in a commercial context.

Uncle Sam Wants You, WWI Propaganda Poster for US Army recruits, Design by James Montgomery Flagg, 1916, image found at: Live Auctioneers

Uncle Sam Wants You, WWI Propaganda Poster for US Army recruits, Design by James Montgomery Flagg, 1916, image found at: Live Auctioneers

The concept was used on the German side as well with this 'Auch du sollst beitreten zur Reichswehr' [You too should join the German Army], design by  Julius Engelhard, Image: courtesy of mental_floss

The concept was used on the German side as well with this ‘Auch du sollst beitreten zur Reichswehr’ [You too should join the German Army], design by Julius Engelhard, Image: courtesy of mental_floss

  This concept has been picked up in a more commercial context. Below are two interesting examples from Emily the Strange and a concept for a lipstick advertisement by Samantha Cain.

I Want You - Emily Strange, The lovable Emily Strange came to life in 1991, designed by Nathan Carrico for Santa Cruz Skateboards. She is referred to as a counterculture icon. I would just call her a sceptic. Image found at: Kollectable Kaos

I Want You – Emily Strange, The lovable Emily Strange came to life in 1991, designed by Nathan Carrico for Santa Cruz Skateboards. She is referred to as a counterculture icon. I would just call her a sceptic. Image found at: Kollectable Kaos

Your Lipstick Needs You, an entertaining take by Digital Media Artist Samantha Cain. Courtesy of: Samantha Cain, http://www.behance.net/samanthacain

Your Lipstick Needs You, an entertaining take by Digital Media Artist Samantha Cain. Courtesy of: Samantha Cain, http://www.behance.net/samanthacain

Applying the eye gaze and pointing finger to a design piece can add a clear flow and focus to your design and assist the Visual Hierarchy and message of your work.

Also read:

More on Lines @ RAE, Research and Exploration

10 Top Photography Composition Rules at PM – Photography Mad

21 World War I Recruitment Posters From Around the Globe on mental_floss by Jill Harness

The paper Giving subjects the eye and showing them the finger: Socio biological cues and saccade generation in the anti-saccade task by Nicola J Gregory and Timothy L Hodgson was published in Perception, 2012 , Volume 41, Issue 2, pages 131-147. http://www.perceptionweb.com/abstract.cgi?id=p7085 Who is Emily the Strange? on http://www.emilystrange.com by HumanCat

Analyse Information + Assign Meta Tags – Week 6

Photo by dhester on morgueFile.com
Photo by dhester on morgueFile.com

Link to all Weeks     Week 1     Week 2     Week 3     Week 4      Week 5     Week 6

Content:

  1. Complete a Tutorial
  2. Lines in Photoshop
  3. Feedback

Complete a Tutorial

Select a tutorial from below, complete it, add meta-data to the PSD file. Save as a JPEG and email a copy to me(with all relevant meta-data).

Lines in Photoshop

As we saw last week working with lines can be a lot of fun and create very dynamic results. Photoshop has many interesting options on using lines. Particularly the many effects that are part of Photoshop can lead to stunning results.

Windows Vista Aurora Effect – a good and reasonably easy to follow tutorial by a favourite site of mine: Tutorial9.

Vista Lighting Effect - Courtesy of: Tutorial9

Vista Lighting Effect – Courtesy of: Tutorial9

Luminescent Lines – this tutorial from a great Photoshop tutorial site – PSD Learning – looks at customising brush dynamics. Fun to do and an interesting start: use a photo to create a suprisingly abstract and attractive background. A good tutorial to try on your own.

Luminescent Lines - Courtesy of: PSDLearning

Luminescent Lines – Courtesy of: PSDLearning

Gentle Curves of Pure Light – follow the tutorial from PhotoshopEssentials in class to create gentle curves with the pen tool and turn them into bright light.

Light Streaks - Courtesy of: PhotoshopEssentials

Light Streaks – Courtesy of: PhotoshopEssentials

Abstract Background – this is a more basic tutorial from YourPhotoshopGuide. It is good to introduce the Lens Flare filter and makes good use of the Free Transform and copy layer options.

Luminescent Twirls- Courtesy of: YourPhotoshopGuide

Luminescent Twirls- Courtesy of: YourPhotoshopGuide

Wavy Blackberry Style Wallpaper – this is a great tutorial from psdtuts+. It consists of 16 steps, but the result is convincing and you will learn a few good techniques on how to work with gradients and how to add depth to your work.

Lines and Gradients- Courtesy of: psdtuts+

Lines and Gradients- Courtesy of: psdtuts+

Lines Tutorial – follow the in-class instructions to create an image like the one below. I basically used the Brush tool and drew straight lines. Next I multiplied layers (Ctrl+J) and changed the layer blending mode.

I added a photo, in the example a photo of Grace Kelly and masked selections.

Study - Lines and Grace Kelly - by Federico Viola photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Study – Lines and Grace Kelly – by Federico Viola
photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Other links with many excellent tutorials:

40 Cool Abstract and Background Photoshop Tutorials – by Hongkiat Lim

25 Useful Photoshop Background Tutorials | Vandelay Design Blog

Feedback

Please leave your feedback in form of a comment. Your feedback and suggestions will help me to make this blog more user friendly. Thanks!

Analyse Information + Assign Meta Tags – Week 5

Photo by dhester on morgueFile.com
Photo by dhester on morgueFile.com

Link to all Weeks     Week 1     Week 2     Week 3     Week 4      Week 5     Week 6

Content:

  1. Lines
  2. Lines in Design
  3. Feedback

Lines

Warm-up

We will look at lines today with fresh eyes (I hope). Line can be defined as having a starting point and an end point and the connection between the two is what the line actually is.

Lines are quite an amazing tool for many creators: when drawing the caricaturist uses lines to create his mean contortions to display a fatter, bolder, thinner, long nosed, big mouthed version of his subject. A writer uses lines to create text filled with meaning.

A graph shows the changes in the economy and an arrow points at something.

Lines can be a powerful tool of expression and we will start today’s class with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.

Draw 5 lines to express 5 concepts, themes or emotions. Below are examples:

  • forgetfulness
  • playfulness
  • sadness
  • happiness
  • searching
  • excited
  • technology
  • nature
  • anything that you come up with …

About Lines

What is a line?

A line is a fundamental design and art element. We describe the world around us with line drawings. We draw the contour or outline of objects and shapes that we see around us to define them on a sheet of paper, a canvas or other 2D platform. This was already established by our forefathers who used the walls of caves as their canvas to depict the world around them.

Work by Egon Schiele, found at Mom.org
Work by Egon Schiele, found at Mom.org

The illustration is by Viennese artist Egon Schiele (pronounced: Sheelah) and you notice how lines are used to display the outlines and expression of a man. The lines do not exist as such in life, a person does not have a contour line around them and their eyes are not two curved lines either.

So, lines are used as a form of expression. Lines are borrowed in drawings to create shapes and outlines.

The function of a line in design (and art) goes beyond that though.

First and foremost in an abstract sense a line is something that we perceive more than view. It gives us a sense of direction. In this sense lines seem to always have one or more directions.

The swirls in the image are made up of numerous lines. Courtesy of: www.openprocessing.org
The swirls in the image are made up of numerous lines. Courtesy of: http://www.openprocessing.org

The lines in the image above seem to move from left to right if you are of a culture that reads from left to right.

Characteristics

Lines can be looked at by characteristics:

  • Length
  • Weight (darkness/thickness)
  • Direction

Basic Applications

Lines can be looked at by their basic application:

  • Outline describes the outer boundary of a two-dimensional shape.
  • Contour is the use of line to define the edge of an object and emphasize the volume or mass of the form.
  • Gestural lines are quick marks that capture the impression of a pose or movement.
  • Implied lines are suggested or broken lines that are completed with your imagination through the concept of closure. An arrow is used to suggest a direction or path for the eye to follow.
  • Calligraphy is beautiful, expressive marks. An expressive stroke freely uses the characteristics of line to convey emotion to the viewer, much like an individual’s handwriting changes with different moods.
  • Analytical line is a formal use of line. Analytical line is closer to geometry with its use of precise and controlled marks. A grid is a very popular analytical use of visual line as a way to organize a design. The Golden Section is an example of the traditional use of analytical classical line, which uses calculated implied lines to bring unity to the structure of a painting composition.
  • Modeling line is used to create the illusion of volume in drawing. Hatching is the use of parallel lines to suggest value change. Parallel lines on another angle can be added to create cross-hatching to build up a gradation and more value in areas of a drawing.
  • Directional lines suggest movement or a path of vision and have specific connotations associated with them for example: Vertical lines suggest power and authority; horizontal lines suggest peace and tranquility. Together they give a feeling of calm and stability. Diagonal lines suggest tension; curved lines are graceful and fluid. Together they create a feeling of stress and movement.
    Linear perspective can be applied to drawing to create the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface.  (Source: http://www.onlineartcenter.com/line.html)

Lines in Design

Look at the example below of lines in design from a Google search:

Lines Google Image Search
Lines Google Image Search

Click on the image above and save 5 -10 images to inspire you to create a Photoshop generated image that displays lines as a rhythmic component.

Before you save the file and email it to me, make sure to include the Meta Data.

Below is an example of a Photoshop generated study incorporating a portrait of the US-American actress Grace Kelly (image can be found at: GettingCheeky) with straight lines at different angles and a wallpaper found on FreeFever.com.

Study - Lines and Grace Kelly - by Federico Viola photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Study – Lines and Grace Kelly – by Federico Viola
photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Study - Lines and Grace Kelly - by Federico Viola photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Study – Lines and Grace Kelly – by Federico Viola
photo: courtesy of GettingCheeky.com and curved lines wallpaper: courtesy of FreeFever.com

Feedback

Please leave your feedback in form of a comment. Your feedback and suggestions will help me to make this blog more user friendly. Thanks!

From your drawing task – 6/9/12

The text is directly taken from today’s drawing task. Complete on the sheet handed out (not in here):

Please complete all the tasks below. This is a chance to see your drawing progress and a chance for me to check that you are doing your daily 10mins of sketching at home!
Use a HB, B or 2B pencil. You have 25 minutes.

1. How many hours did you spend on your homework (doing the drawing exercises) since last class? If you did not draw at all write 0. You will not be marked down.
2. Draw a minimum of 20 curved lines varying your line strength.


3. Draw 3 rows of 10 touching circles (see example).


4. Draw the sample to your right. Good luck!


5. Draw 20 circles with varying line thickness.


5. Redraw the Escape Pod from Mass Effect. See image (Courtesy of The Art of Mass Effect Universe’, 2012)

Courtesy of The Art of Mass Effect Universe’, 2012

6. Draw a sketch of the entrance to Afterlife from Mass Effect 3. See image (Courtesy of The Art of Mass Effect Universe’, 2012)

Courtesy of The Art of Mass Effect Universe’, 2012

7. Draw 5 different hands using the methods described at the link: http://alexds1.deviantart.com/art/Hand-tutorial-83785318