The ‘line’ is one of the seven elements of art and some would argue that it is the most important. In reality, you know what a line is, but when it comes to art and drawing, the definition can be a little more complicated.

What is a ‘Line’?

The famous Swiss artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) gave line its best description to date: “​A line is a dot that went for a walk.” It’s such a true statement and a bit of wisdom that has inspired generations in their pursuit of art.

Yet, we must get a bit more formal than that.

Line is the most basic design ‘tool’ on which almost every piece of art relies. A line has length, width, tone, and texture. It may divide space, define a form, describe contour, or suggest direction.

You can find a line in every type of art. There are, of course, line art drawings and even the most abstract painting uses line as a foundation. Without line, shapes cannot be noted, texture cannot be suggested, and tone cannot add depth.

Almost every mark you make is a line as long as it is not a dot, of course. A cluster of lines (or dots) can make a shape and a series of lines (or dots) can make a pattern.

Types of Line

Artists use the word ‘line’ all the time and it is used in many different contexts. Yet, each builds off the basic definition of line.

Lineweight – Used to describe the strength of a line, or how light or dark it appears on paper.

Horizon Line – Controls the height of the viewer’s eye. This is most apparent in landscapes but can be applied to other subjects as well.

Orthogonal Line – Used in perspective drawing, orthogonal are the lines that reach back to and converge at the vanishing point.

Implied Line – Occurs when you continue a line after a small break and that line proceeds in the same direction.

Contour Line – Using line to define the edge or form of an object. Quite simply, it is used to create an outline drawing.

Hatching and Cross-Hatching – Using a series of simple and parallel lines to imply shade or tone changes.

Structural and Center Lines – Used in animation to ensure figures are symmetrical and balanced.

“Pen and Ink” drawings are often ones that show off the line in art. You can find several fine examples of this style of artwork at Here you can even purchase and download the art in the form of high quality digital PDF files that you can print and frame for use in your home, office or business.