1. Line

There are plenty of different varieties of lines, all characterized by their size being higher than their width. Lines deserve to be revolution or dynamic depending upon how the artist chooses to usage them. They aid determine the motion, direction and also energy in a job-related of art. We check out line all around us in our everyday lives; telephone wires, tree branches, jet contrails and winding roads are just a couple of examples.

You are watching: This technique often uses a very obvious linear arrangement to create a focal point.

The Nazca lines in the arid coastal plains the Peru day to virtually 500 BCE were scratched right into the rocky soil, depicting pets on an significant scale, so large that castle are best viewed indigenous the air. Stop look at exactly how the various kinds of line space made.


Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas from 1656, ostensibly a portrait that the Infanta Margarita, the daughter the King Philip IV and also Queen Mariana the Spain, supplies a sumptuous amount of imaginative genius; the sheer dimension (almost ten feet square), painterly format of naturalism, light effects, and also the enigmatic figures placed transparent the canvas–including the artist himself –is among the good paintings in western art history. Let’s examine it (below) to uncover exactly how Velazquez uses straightforward elements and principles of art to achieve such a masterpiece.


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

Actual present are those that are physically present. The leaf of the wooden stretcher bar in ~ the left the Las Meninas is an really line, as space the photo frames in the background and the straight decorative facets on few of the figures’ dresses. How many other really lines deserve to you find in the painting?

Implied currently 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 that honor, come the left and right that her, space implied lines. Implied currently can likewise be produced when two locations of different colors or tones come together. Have the right to you identify an ext implied lines in the painting? Where? Implied currently are discovered in three-dimensional artworks, too. The sculpture the the Laocoon below, a figure from Greek and Roman mythology, is, along with his sons, gift strangled by sea snakes sent out by the goddess Athena as wrath against his warnings to the Trojans no to accept the Trojan horse. The sculpture set implied currently in movement as the figures writhe in agony versus the snakes.


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

Straight or classic lines provide framework to a composition. They deserve to be oriented to the horizontal, vertical, or diagonal axis the a surface. Directly lines room by nature visually stable, while still offering direction to a composition. In Las Meninas, you deserve to see them in the canvas supports on the left, the wall supports and doorways top top the right, and in the lift in matrices on the wall spaces between the framed pictures. Moreover, the tiny horizontal lines created in the stair edges in the background assist anchor the whole visual design of the painting. Vertical and horizontal directly lines provide the many stable compositions. Diagonal directly lines are usually an ext visually dynamic, unstable, and also tension-filled.


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

Expressive present are curved, adding an organic, more dynamic personality to a work-related of art. Expressive currently are frequently rounded and follow undetermined paths. In Las Meninas you can see castle in the aprons on the girls’ dresses and in the dog’s urgent hind leg and coat pattern. Watch again in ~ the Laocoon to check out expressive present in the figures’ flailing limbs and the sinuous kind 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 various other kinds of line that encompass the characteristics of those above yet, bring away together, aid create extr artistic elements and also richer, an ext varied compositions. Describe the images and examples below to end up being familiar through these types of line.

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


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

Hatch present are repetitive at quick intervals in usually one direction. They give shading and also visual texture to the surface ar of one object.


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

Crosshatch currently provide added tone and texture. They have the right to be oriented in any kind of direction. Multiple class of crosshatch currently can offer rich and also varied shading come objects through manipulating the push of the illustration tool to develop a large 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 distinguish them indigenous others. Hard-edged, jagged lines have actually a staccato visual motion while organic, flow lines develop a an ext comfortable feeling. Meandering lines deserve to be either geometric or expressive, and you can see in the examples how your indeterminate routes animate a surface ar to different degrees.


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

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

Calligraphic currently use quickness and gesture, much more akin to paint strokes, to imbue one artwork with a fluid, lyrical character. To view this distinctive line quality, look up the work of Chinese poet and also artist Dong Qichang, dating from the Ming empire (1555-1637). A much more geometric instance from the Koran, created in the Arabic calligraphic style, dates from the 9th century.

Both this examples display how artists use line together both a type of writing and also a visual art form. American artist mark Tobey (1890–1976) was affected by eastern calligraphy, adapting its kind to the plot of pure painting within a modern abstract style described as white writing.

2. Shape

A shape is identified as an fastened area in two dimensions. By an interpretation shapes are constantly flat, yet the mix of shapes, color, and also other method can do shapes show up three-dimensional, as forms. Shapes can be created in plenty of ways, the most basic by enclosing one area v an outline. They can additionally be do by bordering an area with various other shapes or the location of different textures beside each other—for instance, the form of one island surrounded by water. Since they are more complex than lines, shapes are usually more important in the plan of compositions. The examples listed below give united state an idea of exactly how shapes are made.

Referring earlier to Velazquez’s Las Meninas, that is basically an plan of shapes; organic and also hard-edged, light, dark and also mid-toned, the solidifies the composition in ~ the larger shape that the canvas. Looking at it this way, we deserve to view any work of art, whether two or three-dimensional, realistic, summary or non-objective, in terms of shapes alone.

Geometric forms vs. Necessary Shapes

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

3. Form

Form is occasionally used to define a shape that has an implied 3rd dimension. In various other words, one artist may try to make parts of a level image show up three-dimensional. An alert in the drawing below how the artist renders the different shapes appear three-dimensional through the usage of shading. It’s a level image but appears three-dimensional. Kind is provided to make people, animals, trees, or anything show up three-dimensional.

When picture is incredibly realistic in regards to its forms (as well as color, space, etc.) such as this painting by Edwaert Collier, we call that trompe l’oeil, French because that “fool the eye.”

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

4. Space

Space is the area neighboring or in between real or implied objects. Humans categorize space: over there is outer space, that unlimited void us enter beyond our sky; inner space, which resides in people’s minds and also imaginations, and an individual space, the important but intangible area the surrounds each individual and also which is violated if someone else gets too close. Pictorial space is flat, and also the digital realm lives in cyberspace. Arts responds to every one of these kinds of space.

Many artists are as came to with an are in their works as they room with, say, color or form. There are numerous ways because that the artist to present ideas of space. Mental that numerous cultures traditionally use pictorial an are as a window to view subject issue through, and through the subject matter they current ideas, narratives and symbolic content. The development of linear perspective, an include geometric photographic construct dating from fifteenth-century Europe, affords united state the specific illusion of three-dimensional an are on a flat surface, and also appears to recede into the distance v the usage of a horizon line and also vanishing point(s). You can see just how one-point linear perspective is collection up in the examples below:


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

One-point perspective occurs once the receding lines appear to converge at a solitary point ~ above the horizon and also used when the flat front of an object is facing the viewer. Note: Perspective can be supplied to show the relative size and recession into space of any kind of object, yet is most effective with hard-edged three-dimensional objects such together buildings.

A standard Renaissance artwork utilizing one allude perspective is Leonardo da Vinci’s The last Supper from 1498. Da Vinci composes the work-related by locating the vanishing suggest directly behind the head of Christ, thus illustration the viewer’s fist to the center. His arms winter the receding wall surface lines, and, if we follow them together lines, would certainly converge at the very same vanishing point.

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

Two-point view occurs as soon as the vertical edge of a cube is dealing with the viewer, exposing two sides the recede into the distance, one come each noodles point.


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

View Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street, rainy Weather from 1877 to see just how two-point perspective is provided to give precise view to an urban scene. The artist’s composition, however, is more complicated than just his use of perspective. The figures are deliberately put to direct the viewer’s eye indigenous the front right of the picture to the building’s front edge on the left, which, favor a ship’s bow, acts together a cleaver come plunge both sides towards the horizon. In the middle of this intuitive recession a lamp post stands steady in the middle to arrest our gaze native going right out the back of the painting. Caillebotte includes the small metal arm at the height right that the post to straight us again along a horizontal path, now keeping us native traveling off the height of the canvas. As relatively spare as the left next of the work is, the artist crams the right side through hard-edged and organic shapes and forms in a complicated play of optimistic and negative space.

The perspective mechanism is a social convention fine suited to a timeless western europe idea the the “truth,” that is, one accurate, clear rendition of it was observed reality. Also after the innovation of straight perspective, plenty of artists and also cultures ongoing to use other methods to show pictorial space, relying top top overlapping, size differences (smaller=further), vertical location (lower=closer; higher=further), aerial or atmospheric view (hazy, less detailed-further; clear, crisp, detailed=closer). THESE are IMPORTANT! MAKE certain YOU understand WHAT they MEAN.

Examine the miniature painting of the Third Court that the Topkapi Palace from fourteenth-century Turkey to contrast its pictorial an are with that of linear perspective. It’s written from a variety of different vantage clues (as protest to vanishing points), all really flat come the picture plane. When 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 top top the much left and right space sideways to the photo plane. The trees and people occupying the upper components are meant to be regarded as further from the viewer as compared to those trees, buildings and people located near the bottom of the painting. This is an example of vertical placement.

As “incorrect” as it looks, the painting does give a detailed description of the landscape and structures ~ above the palace grounds.


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

After virtually five century using linear perspective, western ideas around how room is depicted accurately in 2 dimensions went with a change at the beginning of the 20th century. A young Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso, moved to Paris, climate western culture’s funding of art, and largely changed pictorial an are with the innovation of Cubism, ushered in considerably by his paint Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in 1907. That was influenced in component by the chiseled forms, angular surfaces and also disproportion of afri sculpture (refer ago to the Male Figure from Cameroon) and mask-like deals with of beforehand Iberian artworks. For more information about this vital painting, hear to the following question and answer.

In the early 20th century, Picasso, his girlfriend Georges Braque and also a handful of various other artists struggled to develop a brand-new space that relied on, ironically, the flatness that the snapshot plane come carry and animate timeless subject matter including figures, still life and also landscape. Cubist pictures, and also eventually sculptures, came to be amalgams of different points of view, irradiate sources and also planar constructs. The was as if they were presenting your subject issue in numerous ways at once, every the while changing foreground, middle ground and background so the viewer is not sure where one starts and the other ends. In one interview, the artist described cubism this way: “The problem is now to pass, to go around the object, and give a plastic expression come the result. All of this is my battle to break with the two-dimensional aspect*”(from Alexander Liberman, An Artist in His Studio, 1960, page 113). Public and an important reaction come cubism was understandably negative, yet the artists’ experiments through spatial relationship reverberated v others and also became – follow me with brand-new ways the using shade – a driving pressure in the development of a modern art motion that based chin on the flatness the the picture plane. Instead of a window to look into, the level surface i do not care a ground on which to build formal species of shapes, colors and also compositions. For one more perspective ~ above this idea, refer back to module one’s discussion of ‘abstraction’.

You have the right to see the radical changes cubism do in George Braque’s see La Roche Guyon from 1909. The trees, houses, castle and also surrounding rocks comprise practically a single complex form, stair-stepping up the canvas to mimic the far-off hill in ~ the top, every one of it struggling upwards and also leaning to the appropriate within a shallow pictorial space.


George Braque, Castle at La Roche Guyon, 1909. Oil ~ above canvas. Stedelijk van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Licensed through GNU and creative Commons

As the cubist format developed, that forms came to be even flatter. Juan Gris’s The Sunblind from 1914 splays the still life it represents across the canvas. Collage aspects like newspaper reinforce photographic flatness.


Juan Gris, The Sunblind, 1914. Gouache, collage, chalk, and also charcoal top top canvas. Tate Gallery, London. Picture licensed under GNU free Documentation License

It’s no so daunting to recognize the prestige of this brand-new idea of an are when put in the paper definition of comparable advances in science bordering the rotate of the nineteenth century. The light Brothers took to the air with powered trip in 1903, the same year Marie Curie won the very first of two Nobel prizes for her pioneering work in radiation. Sigmund Freud’s new ideas top top the within spaces of the mind and its effect on habits were published in 1902, and also Albert Einstein’s calculations ~ above relativity, the idea that an are and time are intertwined, an initial appeared in 1905. Every of this discoveries added to human being understanding and also realligned the means we look at ourselves and also our world. Indeed, Picasso, speak of his struggle to define cubism, stated “Even Einstein did not know it either! The condition of exploration is outside ourselves; however the terrifying point is that in spite of all this, we deserve to only find what us know” (from Picasso on Art, A choice of Views by Dore Ashton, (Souchere, 1960, web page 15).

5. Value and Contrast

Value (or tone) is the relative lightness or darkness of a shape in relation to another. The value scale, bounded top top one end by pure white and on the various other by black, and in in between a series of increasingly darker shades that grey, provides an artist the devices to do these transformations. The worth scale below shows the traditional variations in tones. Values near the lighter finish of the spectrum room termed high-keyed, those on the darker finish are low-keyed.


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

In 2 dimensions, the usage of value gives a form the illusion of form or mass and also lends an entire composition a feeling of light and shadow. The two examples listed below show the effect value has actually on changing a shape to a form.


2D Form, 11 July 2012, Creator: Oliver Harrison, CC BY

This same method brings to life what starts as a an easy line drawing of a young male head in Michelangelo’s Head of a Youth and also a ideal Hand from 1508. Shading is created with line (refer to our conversation of line previously in this module) or tones developed with a pencil. Artists vary the tones through the amount of resistance they use in between the pencil and also the document they’re drawing on. A illustration pencil’s leads differ in hardness, each one giving a various tone than another. Washes of squid or color create values identified by the quantity of water the medium is dissolved into.

The usage of high contrast, placing lighter areas of value versus much darker ones, create a dramatic effect, while low comparison gives much more subtle results. These distinctions in result are apparent in ‘Guiditta and also Oloferne’ by the Italian painter Caravaggio, and also Robert Adams’ photograph Untitled, Denver from 1970-74. Caravaggio provides a high comparison palette come an currently dramatic scene to increase the visual stress and anxiety for the viewer, if Adams deliberately provides use the low contrast to underscore the drabness of the landscape neighboring the number on the bicycle.


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

6. Color

Color is the most complicated artistic element because of the combinations and also variations inherent in the use. Human beings respond to color combinations differently, and artists study and use color in part to give desired direction to your work.

Color is an essential to numerous forms the art. The relevance, usage and function in a offered work rely on the medium of that work. While some ideas dealing with shade are generally applicable throughout media, others space not.

The full spectrum of colour is contained in white light. Humans perceive colors from the light reflected turn off objects. A red object, because that example, looks red because it mirrors the red component of the spectrum. It would certainly be a different shade under a various light. Shade theory very first appeared in the 17th century once English mathematician and also scientist sir Isaac Newton uncovered that white light might be split into a spectrum by happen it v a prism.

The research of color in art and also design regularly starts through color theory. Shade theory splits increase colors into three categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The simple tool provided is a shade wheel, emerged by Isaac Newton in 1666. A more facility model known as the color tree, created by Albert Munsell, reflects the spectrum consisted of of set of tints and shades on connected planes.

There are a variety of approaches to organizing colors into coherent relationships. Many systems differ in structure only.

Traditional Model

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

Traditional shade theory uses the same ethics as subtractive shade mixing (see below) however prefers different primary colors.

The primary colors space red, blue, and yellow. You uncover them equidistant from each other on the color wheel. These space the “elemental” colors; not produced by mixing any type of other colors, and also all various other colors are obtained from some combination of these three.The secondary colors space orange (mix of red and also yellow), eco-friendly (mix of blue and yellow), and violet (mix that blue and red).The tertiary colors are acquired by mixing one primary color and also one second color. Depending upon amount of color used, different hues can be acquired such as red-orange or yellow-green. Neutral colour (browns and also grays) deserve to be mixed using the three major colors together.White and black lie external of these categories. Castle are supplied to lighten or darken a color. A lighter shade (made by including white come it) is dubbed a tint, when a darker color (made by adding black) is referred to as a shade.

Color Mixing

Think about color together the result of light mirroring off a surface. Construed in this way, color can be stood for as a ratio of amounts of primary color mixed together. Color is developed when parts of the exterior light source’s spectrum are took in by the material and also not reflected back to the viewer’s eye. Because that example, a artist brushes blue repaint onto a canvas. The chemistry composition of the paint allows every one of the colour in the spectrum to be soaked up except blue, i m sorry is reflect from the paint’s surface. Common applications of subtractive color theory are provided in the intuitive arts, color printing and processing photographic positives and negatives.

The primary colors room red, yellow, and blue.The secondary colors space orange, green and violet.The tertiary colors are produced by mixing a primary with a an additional color.Black is blended using the three primary colors, while white represents the absence of all colors. Note: because of impurities in subtractive color, a true black color is difficult to create through the mixture that primaries. Thus the result is closer come brown. Similar to additive color theory, lightness and also darkness of a shade is identified by its intensity and density.

Color Attributes

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

Hue refers to color itself, but likewise to the variations of a color.Value (as disputed previously)refers to the relative lightness or darkness the one shade next to another. The worth of a color can do a difference in exactly how it is perceived. A shade on a dark background will appear lighter, while the same shade on a irradiate background will show up darker.Saturation refers come the purity and intensity of a color. The primaries space the most intense and also pure, but diminish together they are combined to type other colors. The production of tints and shades additionally diminish a color’s saturation. 2 colors work-related strongest together once they re-superstructure the very same intensity.

Color Interactions

Beyond creating a mixing hierarchy, shade theory likewise provides devices for understanding how colors work together.


The simplest color interaction is monochrome. This is the use of sports of a solitary hue. The advantage of using a monochromatic color scheme is that you get a high level the unity throughout the artwork since all the tones relate to one another. See this in note Tansey’s Derrida Queries de Man from 1990.

Analogous Color

Analogous colors are comparable to one another. Together their surname implies, analogous colors have the right to be found next to one one more on any kind of 12-part color wheel:

You can see the result of analogous colour in Paul Cezanne’s oil paint Auvers Panoromic View

Color Temperature

Colors are viewed to have temperatures connected with them. The shade wheel is split into warm and cool colors. Warm colors range from yellow come red, while cool colors selection from yellow-green come violet. You have the right to achieve complicated results using just a few colors when you pair castle in warm and also cool sets.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors space found directly opposite one an additional on a shade wheel. Here are some examples:

purple and also yellowgreen and also redorange and blue

Blue and orange are complements. When placed near every other, complements produce a intuitive tension. This shade scheme is desirable when a dramatic impact is necessary using only two colors.

7. Texture

At the most straightforward level, Three-dimensional works of art (sculpture, pottery, textiles, metalwork, etc.) and also architecture have actual texture which is often determined by the product that was provided to develop it: wood, stone, bronze, clay, etc. Two-dimensional works of art choose paintings, drawings, and also prints may shot to present implied texture v the usage of lines, colors, or other ways. When a painting has actually a lot of actual structure from the applications of thick paint, we call that impasto.

The first image listed below is a sculpture, and like every three-dimensional objects it has actually actual texture.

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The following two pictures are details from the paint The Arnolfini Portrait by jan van Eyck. Here, the artist has created implied texture. If you were to touch this paint you would not feel the fabric of the clothing and also carpet, the wood floor or the smooth metal of the chandelier, yet our eye “see” the texture.