I love to see a balance of directional Lines in my compositions, photos, drawings and watercolor paintings.  The 3 directional lines are: Horizontal lines, Vertical lines and Diagonal lines. See if you can find these in the 3 images I’ve featured.

Lines in design, art, debiriley.com
Cobwebs and Lines


Design Element Lines

After the previous post on the watercolor  3 basic types of Edges and creating depth,  I was inspired to jot down some notes on the 3 major types of Directional Lines for design.

Each of the 3 major types of Lines serve a distinct function and can be a great use in your compositions if you plan for just a second or two.

Wonderfully expressive and useful,  Lines can become one of the artist’s  greatest tools.




Vertical Lines in Design  

These are upright lines which will create a bit of energy to the image. They are great to use to create some tension and break up a design that is too heavy on the horizontal side.

In the landscape, verticals could be…. telephone poles, trees, skyscrapers, waterfalls.

If done too repetitiously throughout the image, Vertical Lines can become very ‘imprisoning.’

Take care not to overuse them and soften the edges,  especially near the perimeter edges of the paper.

This will help bring the viewer’s eye back in to your artwork.   Very Important. 




Horizontal Lines

Lines that direct your eye in a horizontal movement are calming.  They promote peacefulness, serenity, relaxation.

If you are wanting to unwind…. choose a dominantly horizontal design to reinforce the feelings of calm and relaxation.  Horizontals could be…. ponds, rivers, lakes, oceans.

Do add in a small diagonal or vertical,  just so that the viewer doesn’t fall entirely to sleep!

lovely,bold lines in design, debiriley.com
Bold Lines




Diagonal Lines 

These are highly energetic, and say “Lets GO!”

They need to be placed thoughtfully. Sometimes in an expanse of flatness to offset the all that energy is a good balance. Often just in small doses. Less is more.

In a landscape, a diagonal could be … a Mountain, a sky/clouds, tree, branches, or rooftops.

Try to have the diagonals end before the edge of the paper  to keep the viewer’s eye in.


Diagonal lines will lead the eye, somewhere.

Be careful it isn’t out of your picture and over to another artist’s painting hanging just next to yours.  Their painting, could be the one sold instead!

It happens.

Well,  it happened to me one time. That artist thanked me too!




teal lovely lines, debiriley.com
Teal Lines


Sometimes you can utilise the format of the canvas as your vertical or horizontal, if needed. I’ve often done that.

Usually,  I try to include  my 3 directional lines within the image where possible though.