elements of design # 3 – horizontal and vertical lines

horizontal and verical lines

inukshuk – yesnaby, orkney

Produce 4 examples of horizontal and 4 of vertical lines. Avoid repeating the way in which a line appears. The most successful will be those in which the line is the first thing a viewer would notice.

– AoP Coursebook

Horizontal Lines

Horizontal lines are everywhere – table tops, walls, windowsills, steps, shelves, the surface of still water, the Great Western Railway and on and on and on. If man-made things aren’t level, they’ll topple over eventually; if natural things aren’t able to find a level when liquid, they’ll run away until they can…

Horizontal lines can act as a barrier to forward movement, a line we cannot cross.

Horizontal lines can form steps that lead us up or down.


Vertical Lines:

There are a lot of vertical lines too: trees and plants grow upwards towards the light, people stand up with their heads in the air (when they’re not horizontal, trying to sleep), buildings  tower over us and posts point up towards the sky, drop a marble and it plummets vertically unless it’s very very windy…

Vertical lines are less of a barrier than horizontal lines. I’m not sure why, or indeed whether that’s just me. Maybe it’s because most doors are more vertical than horizontal and doors are a way in or out…


The edges of a camera frame are vertical and horizontal too. I could have flipped barriers – W1  through ninety degrees and it would have fitted in the horizontal set, although the way the light falls may have given me away; the bench could have become a pillar and the pillar a bench. Any of them could have become “off” if I’d got the alignment of the camera wrong.

Verticals and horizontals are everywhere…

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