Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Designing a Character: Line

           Line is one of the essential elements of design.  The type of line used in a drawing or composition creates a psychological impact on the viewer.  Imagine the theoretical spine of your character as a certain type of line.  How does that impact their personality and actions?
Vertical lines, especially substantial mechanically drawn ones, convey strength.  In nature, we relate the vertical line to trees or buildings that define a city’s skyline.  The horizontal line cannot help but be associated with the horizon, where sky meets sea, i.e. peace, tranquility.  The diagonal line needs support to keep it from toppling, but is oh so exciting to slide down.
            Let’s not forget our friends the curved lines.  The half-circle, not so thrilling, but the spiral conjures the power of a tornado.  The meandering curved line takes us on an easy but not always purposeful journey, like the course of a river.
            What kind of lines do your characters represent?  I am a huge Harry Potter fan.  I’ve always seen Harry as an active spiral, sometimes loose, but having the potential to pull in tightly at any moment.  Harry can also be a straight line that rapidly changes direction such as the readings on a seismograph.  Hermione is definitely a vertical, and Ron, meandering.
            Time to share.  What kind of lines do you see in some of your favorite characters?


  1. You make such a great point about lines. Let me see, since I just finished my first draft, I see the lines as those on an etch a sketch. All over the place and temporary!

  2. Love it! Love it! Love it! It's something that I've never seen used and it makes so much sense. Thanks for the light bulb moment.

  3. Hi Leslie, discovered your lovely little blog thanks to Lisa! Great post!

  4. What a cool idea. Unfortunately it's too early (5:40 am)for my brain to think of any examples, but my mc is similar to how you described Harry Potter.

  5. Welcome Stina and Renae. All my brain can do at that hour is press the snooze button.

  6. I've always thought of a half circle as nurturing (a cradle, a bowl of food, a cup) - agreed, not very exciting, but necessary to support the other lines in your life/story

  7. Hey Kathi. Welcome. LOVE your half circle images. It's about time that poor member of the curved line family got some strokes. If I can go back in my muddled brain, I think the second class citizen status of the half-circle comes from somewhere in the world of architecture. Some pesky detail about support.