Useful Links

Formal Elements, Line





Term 1
Definition of term


In this first workshop, we will begin to use drawing and visualisation techniques.

Artists, designers, and developers all need to communicate with other people and one of the best ways to do this is to draw or visualise a problem you are trying to solve. Its like a common language that can make communication eaiser between teams.

Some of you will feel confident drawing anything but for others learning to draw might feel completely alien. Whether you are a confident artist or completely new to drawing, there are always new things to learn.

In this first workshop we will begin the process of using lines to visualise ideas. Lines are the building blocks of shapes which are the building blocks of form. By using lines you can draw in 2D and 3D and the are part of a range of different formal elements in art. They are Line | Shape | Form | Value | Texture | Pattern | Colour | Space


  • Fineliner Pen
  • Biro pen
  • Range of penciles 5H through to 5B
  • Plain paper
workshop image




The first thing you need to do is to review how you hold a pencil or pen. Download the Basic Pencil Techniques resource and try the exercises it explains to make sure you are holding your pencil or pen correctly.


Next you need to view the resource 7 Basic Pencil Marks to understand how the different basic pencil marks or strokes can be drawn.

Lines can commuicate different effects Light | Direction | Depth | Scale | Overlap | Movement. Try a few examples of each, take your time to experiment and try to remember what you are doing in each example by writing a few notes (annotations) next to each one so that you can remember what you were doing later.

These lines can feel a bit rigid so we need to free up your hand to draw more fluidly and requiring less effort. There is no such thing as a bad line. Only different qualities. All types of line are relevant and can be used to vary the effects of what you are trying to achieve at the time.

Try the following exercises with a subject of your choice. Put some objects on a table and give yourself a time limit to draw them. Its important to set a time limit as it forces you to be more confident in drawing lines on the page.

Try setting yourself different challenges such as:

  • Drawing with your other hand
  • Drawing moving objects
  • Drawing with your eyes closed


Once you have done this try to develop your skills in mark making. mark making Mark making is an experimental approach to making marks. You can use any drawing tool, pigment or paint, and approach. The aim is to be experimental. You can create lines, or squares of different mark making experiments or do this more free hand. The approach is up to you. Develop the skill and allow different marks to develop in your notebook and see where they lead.

Link to website

Coming soon . . .

Reflection and Evaluation

"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey

After each workshop you need to reflect on how you worked in the task. This can be done in your notebook and in your blog

  • What observations can you make about how you worked in this task or tasks?
  • What did you discover that was unexpected?
  • How did you alter the parameters of this task to change the results?
  • How did you work in this task, were you engaged, or distracted? Why?
  • What ways do you think you can use what you learned further?

Going Further

Once you have experimented with different approaches to line drawing. Practice drawing lines in as many different ways as you can. You could try to draw a range of 3D images such as your own hands in 3D from lines or contours. This is known as cross contour drawing.

3D hands contours
You could find examples of work by artists which are not realistic. How do artists use lines in their work? Try and experiment with lines using the style of a particular artist. Look at games, how are lines used in games to enhance the art style? Try to experiment and use lines in the style of a particular game.

This resource has some interesting approaches to line experimentation. Student Art Guide

This is a more in-depth look at mark making techniques - Mark Making and automatic techniques

Gamasutra article The Aesthetics of game art