There are so many interesting things about lines and their properties. This post is about one of my favorite lines exercises from a design class I took a couple of years ago. In that practice I was to take two different lines and make them equal in weight, size and value and then work to make one line dominate over the other. Briefly, one theory I was exploring is that contrast in the lines brings in tension or interest but to achieve unity dominance needs to be established. One line may be emphasized over another by size (length), value, weight or repetition.
Think about two identical horizontal lines all by themselves on a page. Not too, interesting. After all how much more worthy of being looked at is one than the other? But remove one of the horizontal lines and replace it with a vertical line, much more interesting. But what if the two different lines are the same size, value and weight, then they both vie for your attention, right? Below is a quick, simple idea. On the left, one line is vertical; one, horizontal. But they are both the same in size, value and weight. On the right, size has emphasized the vertical line.
In this next example on the left the size, value and weight of the two lines are the same. I attempted to establish dominance by decreasing the value of the horizontal line on the right. I’m not positive how successful I was in this since the horizontal overlays the erratic line. If you saw all my exercises you would see how sometimes, as above, I allowed a very large emphasis in one line above the other. In other examples, I was trying to get away with the smallest margin of dominance. I wanted to see if the difference in the size of the margin caused a difference in my feeling about the unity of the piece. A very subjective thing to attempt to test, I suppose. How much tension am I comfortable with?
On the left, both the erratic and vertical line have the same weight, value and size. The dominance is established by repetition on the right although now the erratic line is much longer than any one of the vertical lines.
In the last example, the size and value of the lines are the same but the weight of the free form line makes it dominant over the diagonal line.
This is only the tip of the ice burg in all that there is to consider about lines. Please keep in mind I’m not an expert in this area. But I found these exercises helpful in both looking at my own work and the work of others. Sometimes when I can’t seem to follow the principles in my own work, it is nice to look at what others are doing and say to myself, they are doing just what my teacher was talking to me about and it works.