Lines is the most important element of art although forms the basis of any design. Line is the lifeline of any design.


Line is an elongated mark, the connection between two points, or the effects made by the edge of an object where there is no actual line on the object itself.

Definition –

  1. A line is a mark made by a moving point which can show direction, lead the eye, draw the attention, outline an object, design a space or communicate a feeling through its character and direction. 
  2. A long thin mark on the surface of something or on the ground.

Characteristics –

  • Line leads the eye in the direction. The line is going and divides the area through which it passes. That providing a breaking point in space.
  • Line may connect two or more points along a continuous path or defines a shape or silhouette or convey a mood or character.
  • As Anderson notes, line may communicate clarify, symbolize, represent or interpret.
Aspects – Every line can be analyse according to nine aspects and every line has all nine aspects.

   Effects of lines on different types of figures

AspectsVariationAppearance  Physical effectsPsychological effectsWays of introducing
PathStraight Emphasis body angularity, counter roundity.  Stiff, direct, rigid, precise, tense, sure and masculine.Seams, dart, garment edges, pleats, tucks.
Restrained curveStraight line counter body curve and therefore tend to be figure concealing, slight emphasis body curve.Soft gentle, flexible, but controlled graceful if slightly irregular.Seams, garment edges and hems, fabric pattern, gathers, draping.
Full curve lines Emphasis body curves, counters thinness and angularity.Dynamic, feminine, active, forceful and unstable.Pattern, seams, garment edges, scalloped edges.
Bent  Combines straight and curved effects.This and the restrained curve are the lines most often found in nature; rivers, trees, hills, can be both forceful and gentle, depending on use.
Jagged lines Emphasis angularity.Abrupt, nervous, jerky, busy, unstable, excited.Decorative fabric pattern, linear trims.
Looped lines Emphasis roundness.Swirling, active, soft, feminine, busy, unsure.  Decorative fabric pattern, trims.
Wavy Emphasis roundness, counters angularity.Feminine, soft, flowing, graceful, uncertain, flexible.Seams, garment edges, fabric pattern, trims.
Scalloped  Repeats, roundness, counter angularity.Curves provides softness and femininity, sharp points provide crispness and liveliness, youth.Garment edges, pattern trims.
Zig zag Emphasis angularity, counters roundness.Sharp, busy, regular, jerky, stiff, intense, masculine.Garment edges, fabric pattern trims.
Crimped Rough contour.Involved, complex, rough.Fabric pattern trims.
ThicknessThick lines Adds weight.Forceful, aggressive, sure, masculine.Borders, trims, fabric pattern, cuffs, belts.  
Thin Minimizes weight.Delicate, dainty, feminine, passive, calm, gentle.Seams, edges, trims, fabric patterns, farts.
EvennessUneven Accents bulges.Unsure, unsteady, insecure, questioning.Fabric pattern trims.
Even Evenness, physical steadiness.Regular, smooth, secure, sure, firm.Seams, edges, pleats gather, draping pattern trims, stripes.
ContinuityContinuous/unbroken lines Smooth, reinforces, smooth lines, emphasises bumps and bulges.Consistent, definite, sure, flowing, firm, certain, elegant, smooth.Seams, pleats, gathers, draping, pattern trims, stripes.
Broken May emphasis irregularities.Less certain, casual, sporty, playful. Any broken line only suggests its path.Insertion, trims, belts, rows of buttons.
Dotted May be spotty varied.Casual, playful, less certain, suggestive.Pearls, beads, trims, fabric pattern
Combinations Varied.Innumerable combinations of solid and broken lines and dots are possible, and they will tend to convey a busy, “broken” effect. Many combinations can provide a casual crispness.Lace, edgings, fabric pattern, trims, belts, smocking, quilting, hemstitching.
Edge/ sharpnessSharp Emphasis area as smooth or bumpy.Definite, precise, certain assertive, sure, hard.Seams, darts, edges, fabric pattern, ribbon and other trims, stripes.
Fuzzy Gently increases area size, softness.Soft, uncertain, indefinite, suggestive.Fringes, fur, braids and trims, fabric pattern, feathers.
Edge/contourSmooth Reinforces smoothness or accents bumps.Smooth, simple, straight-forward, sure.Seams, darts, trims, fabric pattern, stripes.
Shaped Varied according to kind of shape.Complex, involved, busy, certain, informal.Lace, fringe, beading, pearl, other trims, fabric pattern.
ConsistencySolid, smooth, closed Advances boldly.Smooth, sure, strong.Stripes, binding, piping, ribbon, belt, border trims.
Porous Advances little, may recede.Open, delicate, weak, less certain.Lace, edging, and insertion, lace borders, fabric pattern.
LengthLong Emphasis its direction, elongates, smoothness.Length of the line is usually perceived in relation to other lines or an area.  Any
Short Breaks up spaces, increases busyness.A line perceived as short in relation to others tends to give a more abrupt effect.Any
DirectionVertical Lengthiness, narrow.Dignity, strength, poise, alertness, rigidity.Any.
Horizontal Shortness, wideness.Repose, rest, calmness, passivity.Any.
Diagonal Closer to vertical line gives lengthiness, closer to horizontal gives wideness 45-degree effects more dependence on influence of surrounding lines.  Drama, activity, instability, restlessness.Any.

Psychological Effects of Lines on Different Figures –

For a slim woman

A slim woman should not wear straight panels and severely slender one-piece dresses. She must eliminate vertical strip materials. Greater length of dresses sowing long silhouette lines with low cut and deep “V” neckline will not suit her. Low cut should be avoided if the bones of the neck are prominent. Tight fit dress across the front would make the figure look slenderer, that must be avoid. She should wear checks or floral designs and broader neck line. The lines in the dress should create effect of horizontal movement. Long sleeves will look better as they increase the horizontal movement.

For a stout figure

Styles with long lines add to the height and suit a stout person. One-piece dress makes a stout person look less stout. The dresses should be simple style, without elaborate trimmings of any kind.A stout woman must prefer plain material. She must avoid wearing tight fit dresses and extremes in dresses like very short or very long skirts. She should wear a vertical movement in the dress however eye moves up and down across the dress. A long ‘V’ neckline is always desirable for her. She should prefer short sleeves, avoid sleeveless dress show stoutness and long sleeves increase the horizontal movement of the eye. A stout woman will find the dresses with long waistlines or without waistlines as most appropriate.

For a tall woman

The tall woman must be careful that the clothes she wears, do not make her appear angular and awkward. She should avoid vertical stripes as they add to the height. One must avoid dresses with low cut and deep V-necklines. She should select garments with broken lines and coat effects rather than straight panels. Ruffles and frills can be used, if she is not too tall.

For a short woman

The short woman should choose lines which make her appear taller, horizontal lines should be avoided. Unbroken perpendicular lines are the best. A short and thin person can wear any style in fashion but must avoid choosing extremely bold design. Short and stout person has to be very selective. Styles with short waist will give bulky and ungraceful appearance and large figure materials will make her appearance stouter than she really is. Dress should be such which shows her waistline as low as possible. Although , garments which are slightly longer than prevailing fashion would greatly improve her appearance.

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