Monday, November 17, 2014

Diagrammatic Structure Analysis > Lines of Force

Instructional Strategy
  • Identify Similarities & Differences
Learning Activity


As an art student, I will understand and be able to...
  • Develop a learning process that nurtures awareness of compositional structure.
  • Learn to evaluate composition as a viewer.
  • Communicate my visual perceptions and knowledge with others.
  • Learn to integrate effective composition into my own visual creations.


  • Visual images can be reduced to diagrammatic shapes and lines in order to extract and clarify the compositional and proportional structure.  

New Information:

Awareness to the composition of a visual image enables us to assess whether it is arranged, organized or structured well enough to support the content (meaning) and intent of the artist.

The best way to learn the importance of composition and to recognize and evaluate it is to analyze a variety of visual images.  

An effective learning method is to make diagrammatic sketches using tracing paper or digital overlays on top of visual art reproductions.  In doing these diagrammatic analyses, we learn to extract and clarify the compositional structure.


  • Analysis = Identifying and examining separate parts as they function independently and together in visual creations.
  • Composition = the arrangement, organization and structure that supports the relationships between the visual elements into a unified whole.
  • Structure = the given relationships of forms and energies.

Analyze > Structure - Lines of Force

  • Perform a diagrammatic analysis of composition using lines of force
  • Lines of force, direction and thrust reveal the energy of the work and how the viewer’s gaze is directed.

Extract > Structural Lines of Forces:

  1. Copy an art reproduction into an online image editor.
  2. Create a new empty layer on top of the art reproduction.
  3. On that layer, trace lines of force along edges of shapes or values.

Analyze > Composition:

  1. Explain > stability.  
    1. Are lines vertical and horizontal providing stability?
    2. Are the lines slanted and diagonal providing action and energy?
  2. Explain > energy.  
    1. Do the lines thrust soft, dull, fast, active, flowing or rhythmic?
  3. Explain > structure.  
    1. Do the lines thrust out of the work and take the viewer’s gaze with them?
    2. Do the lines move the viewer’s gaze around the work towards focal points?
  4. Explain > Unity.
    1. Are the lines harmonious and flowing or choppy and helter-skelter?