Creative Ways to Utilize the Line Art Design Trend

Creative Ways to Utilize the Line Art Design Trend

20 min read
Illustration of two hands touching on a multi-colored background

Move over Picasso, the digital age is stealing your style.

Line art design is one of the biggest graphic design trends of the past few years. If you made your way to this article, you’ve likely seen line art designs all over Pinterest and Instagram, and now you’re interested in trying it out for yourself.

Well, you’re not alone, and you’ve found your way to the right place. We’ll be your guide for this journey into the world of line art.

We love line art, and we like to think of ourselves as experts. But we’re not gate-keeping these secrets. We’ve got tons of examples, design tips, and a how-to guide for creating line art in Vectornator.

Dog Mom Doodle
Dog Mom Doodle designed by Olivia Malone. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

The charm of illustration and the eye-catching elements of design all come from the use of line art. Lines are, after all, the essence of everything an artist does.

When we talk about line art, it’s not just the lines artists create with shading or framing in photography. This is a specific art form and genre of art, and it has been exploding in popularity lately. A true line art design avoids the flashy elements that more maximalist designs lean on. This form of artistic minimalism strips designs down to just the basic element that defines it.

You might be thinking, “that sounds easy, I’ll just scribble a few lines, and I'm done.” Well, don’t be cheeky! It’s not that simple. Being a design minimalist isn’t an easy trick to master, but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves that we’re willing to share with you.

This article will discuss what line art is, the five essential types of line art, the history behind the art movement, when to use it, examples of line art that we love, and finally, we will teach you how to create it using Vectornator.

What Is Line Art Design?

Line art is an illustration style that uses minimalist line designs and negative space to create a piece of art.

Typically these designs feature continuous clean lines and white space. Line art designers avoid shading and excessive detail and go for a minimalist look. They ensure that their design pops using negative space because it is the only focal point. In its most basic form, a line drawing consists of expressive lines drawn on a primarily solid background in its most basic form. But over time, this art form has grown to be more creative.

Modern line art features unique pops of colors, creative character illustrations, and 3D elements that take this art form to the next level. As one of the biggest design trends of this year, line artists in 2022 are learning to use the most essential elements of art to create fun and modern designs. The subject matter of line art is typically human figures, natural elements, and abstract objects.

When you think of a line, you may just think of the basic straight line, but there are many types of lines that artists use, and the way that they make a viewer feel may surprise you in its complexity.

5 Types of Line Art

Let’s examine some of the most common lines and what they can demonstrate in a design. You might be surprised to learn how expressive one line can be.

Curved lines

JH
JH designed by Matt Vancoillie. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Curved lines gradually change direction and bend. They can be tight curves like spirals or looser curves like a simple wave. Gradually curved lines give the viewer a feeling of ease and comfort. They are also a romantic line that can remind viewers of the human body or physical touch.

Tight spiral lines can give a feeling of energy and add an energetic bounce to a design.

Diagonal lines

What up
What up designed by Jenny B Kowalski. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Diagonal lines decisively jut across a design. These lines can be short or long, but they have a feeling of movement and assuredness. Because they are between a vertical and horizontal line, they seem to be constantly in motion. This can add freshness and authority to a design.

Horizontal lines

🏁
🏁 designed by Justin Theroux. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Horizontal lines are a line that runs horizontally on the page. These lines can be a grounding feature in a design that gives a feeling of rest or calm.

In a landscape image, horizontal lines can orient the viewer to where the painting takes place because horizontal lines run parallel to the earth. This may seem like a simple line, but it can be powerful when used correctly.

Vertical lines

☝️
☝️ designed by Justin Theroux. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Vertical lines run straight up and down in a design without any slant. They are perpendicular to horizontal lines and convey a strong presence when used in design. Vertical lines suggest power and strength because they run upwards towards the sky. These lines seem powerful because they are unshakable and absolute.

Zig-Zag lines

Blue On Blue Zig Zag Pattern
Blue On Blue Zig Zag Pattern designed by Design by Cheyney. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Zig-zag lines sharply turn from one direction to another. These lines have youthful and energetic energy in a design. They can give a viewer the impression of wild action and intense excitement, as well as unrest.

Fun fact: did you know that the zig-zag line's first turn is called a zig, and the second one is called a zag?

Artists can mix these line art types to create a finished design or stick to one singular style for a more minimalist look. Lines are all around us and have been present in art since the earliest cave paintings. Let’s talk about it.

History of Line Art Design

Line art may be trendy right now, but if you’ve sat through an Art History 101 class before, you know this isn’t the first time this style has been "in vogue." This is a seriously old form of art. In fact, the first line art drawing can be dated back to more than 73,000 years ago and was etched onto a cave wall.

Classic line art goes all the way back to the first known examples of art, and lines are one of the most essential tools in an artist’s toolbox. But let’s talk about some of the famous artists who have done it well and elevated line art to where it is today.

Line art has been heavily influenced by and has become nearly synonymous with the names Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. When we first mentioned line art, their work is likely what popped into your mind. These artists, among many others, have become known for their visionary use of the basic line in their drawings. They could take complicated figures and settings and break them down into uncomplicated shapes and lines. To some, it may seem basic, but this isn’t an easy art form to master. You have to have an advanced understanding of visuals to really break them down to the essentials.

That is what line art is all about, taking the complex and making it simple but still intriguing to look at. Their work encapsulates this idea, and they are still known to be the most significant line artists of all time. But let’s go back way further than that and talk about one of the great minds of the Italian Renaissance and his creative use of line art.

Old manuscript with naked man and handwritten text
"Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, we’re talking about Leonardo da Vinci. This famous image is immediately recognizable as his handiwork.

As a true renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci was incredibly gifted at art, science, and invention. Some of his more famous drawings were line-art depictions of the body, including the image above that you’ve undoubtedly seen before: The Vetruvian Man. Da Vinci used careful lines and detailed sketches to depict the human body with startling accuracy. Later artists would simplify his drawings and concepts into other recognizable examples of line art.

Jumping ahead in time a bit, another famous artist made his famous mark on line art design. As we’ve already discussed, Pablo Picasso was well known for creating continuous line drawings and, notably, inventing the art movement of Cubism. His line art designs have influenced many generations of artists. As we’ve already discussed, Picasso was great at stripping an image down to just one single line.

Picasso didn’t only create line art designs and is also known for his colorful and vibrant cubist artworks. However, his sketches are an excellent example of mastering the art of line work. A contemporary of Picasso, Henri Matisse, is also well known for his line art designs, including his Blue Nudes series. This series of color lithographs were made from cut-outs depicting nude figures in various positions.

The way that Matisse uses subtle lines to depict a body in movement is inspiring.

Jackson Pollock is another painter who largely impacted the line art trend. He is a famous abstract expressionist painter and a controversial figure in the art world. Known for his “drip” technique, Pollock would pour or splash paint onto a canvas laying on the ground to create his art. Pollock enraged and enthralled the art world with this unique and controversial technique of creating art. The lines he created with his drip method were sporadic and expressive. They aren’t the typical precise lines that we see in line art today, but they have nonetheless left their impact on contemporary line art.

Another line artist who has impacted the genre is Keith Haring. Haring’s expressive, bold style is easily identifiable by the thick black lines and excessive use of white space. His style is the perfect example of more contemporary line art, with bold colors and unique figures done in a simple style. His style is instantly recognizable and distinctive and has a look similar to graffiti that has made him popular with a younger audience.

Haring’s artwork is the most representative of the line art we see today, with splashes of color and uniquely drawn figures.

Contemporary line drawings are inspired by the line art of the past, but artists today are putting their own spin on it. Throughout this article, we will talk about how the movement has changed and how digital arts have made this popular trend their own.

When to Use Line Art Designs

Lately, line art is everywhere online. Advertisements, social media, and web design all feature elements of this popular trend.

Minimalism has been popular for the past few years, so seeing that concepts trickle into all forms of art and design is unsurprising. In the same vein, abstract art has been growing in popularity. With minimalism and abstract styles being hugely popular in interior design and fashion lately, it’s to be expected that line art has taken off in graphic design as well. Line art often combines these two trends, so mixing them together to create a megatrend is a no-brainer.

Onboarding for bar coctails delivery service
Onboarding for bar coctails delivery service designed by NICKVECTOR. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

We’ve seen a lot of bold lines with a solid background in digital line art that remind us of classic line art designs. Everything from patterns to tattoo art has been utilizing the classic themes of line art.

Line art is perfect for book illustrations, web design, advertisements, art prints, and business card branding.

But line art isn’t just for illustrations and paintings. Artists use lines in many ways. Photographers create implied lines using the rule of thirds, sculptors incorporate sharp and soft lines into their materials, and dancers use the lines of their bodies to create art.

Lines are all around us, and how artists use lines can define an artwork. Let’s talk about some of the ways that designers and artists are using line art today.

Digital Line Art

Technology has taken line art design to the next level. With graphic design software, artists can transform this art style and use it in the digital realm.

Line art isn’t just a paper art form anymore. In fact, digital line art is one of the most common types of line art that we see today. Creating your line art with a design program makes sharing online simple and ensures top-notch quality. No need for a ruler to make sure all your lines are straight.

There are a few ways that artists can create digital artwork. Graphic designers and illustrators can draw their line art by hand and scan their work into a graphic design program, or they draw it in a design platform with a stylus or mouse. Using a stylus and a tablet or iPad is the quickest and easiest way to create a line art design. You can use your stylus as a pen and create a design that looks like it was drawn by hand.

Web Design

Certain elements of art that we see in line art design are perfect for web design and ad design because of their simplicity. Many people scrolling through websites or walking by outdoor ad spaces have only a fleeting moment to absorb and interact with an advertisement or website, which makes simple line drawings the perfect way to grab their attention.

Web designers were among the earliest adopters of the line art trend because of this reason. With line art design, you can communicate complicated subject matter in a simple and easy-to-digest way using lots of white space and negative space.

User interface design requires careful design work and strategic placements to guide a user through a website. Line art can perfectly pair with these needs.

Consider, for example, the icons on your screen right now. The magnifying glass for a search bar, the outline of a star to add a page to your favorites, and simple arrows to guide you back and forth between sites are just a few examples.

The simplicity of line art is not only aesthetically pleasing but highly functional for digital art.

Advertising

Remember what we were just saying about line art being perfect for web design because it simplifies a company’s message? That all applies to advertising as well and perhaps is even more critical when you need to sell viewers on an item quickly. We have seen so much line art in advertising in the past few years, and we predict it is a trend that will continue. Line art is perfect for advertising and marketing.

By not overwhelming your audience, you give them more time to consider your message. Line art is perfect for digital advertising and print advertising, and it can be a more subtle way to convey your message. Pops of color and unique shapes can make line art edgier and more likely to grab your attention.

Logo Design

Logo design is an obvious and highly effective use of line art. Companies are using line art to make their logos appear on-trend and modern.

Line art makes sense for this type of design because logos are all about minimalism and breaking down your company's mission and offerings into one succinct image that embodies your brand. Line art logos can be done using color or in black and white.

Often, companies will use objects like animals or organic forms to identify their brand. These are known as mascot logos and can be a perfect way to make your logo stand out and make it easy for customers to identify you. When executed well, line art can help you make a simple and easy to identify logo that personifies your brand.

Line art is incredibly dynamic and flexible. You can use weighting and colors to make designs your own. When creating a line art logo, selecting the correct text and colors is crucial.

Stationery

Stationery items might seem like a thing of the past, but we don’t think so. Paper is still relevant for things like menus, invites, and business stationery.

Stationery is another excellent use of line art because of the delicacy and subtlety that it brings to a design. Wedding invites, and business cards are just a few examples of stationery that requires subtle and minimalist designs to enhance its appearance.

Line art is perfect for this because it can decorate the page without distracting from the important information on the page. You don’t want exaggerated and maximalist designs to distract your audience from important factors like what time the event starts or the best number to call you at.

Packaging Design

Another way to utilize this trend is to design packaging using line art. Again, this is a good way to decorate your labels and products without distracting them from their message.

Product packaging is a vital part of marketing and can be the thing that boosts sales, so the design strategy for your packaging needs to be innovative and bold. That’s why so many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and using line art for their packaging designs.

Line art is so popular right now, and using it for your designs can help you stay current and appear modern to consumers who have so many products on the shelves to choose from.

But how do you create the perfect line art design? Let’s start by looking at some examples of artists who nailed this design trend.

Examples of Line Art Design

What is an artist without a muse? We’re talking about inspiration, and that isn’t always easy to come by. But we’re here to help.

By now, you have a good idea of what classic line art looks like and what line art can be used for, so let’s take a look at some contemporary line drawings. Contemporary line drawings are very different from the classic examples we discussed above.

This change is a sign that the line art genre is growing and morphing to keep up with the times. Like any other art style, artists have to take the old with the new to capture a modern audience's attention.

If you’re going to make line art for modern times, you’ll need to know what the best of them look like. But before you start Googling things, don’t worry. We’ve pulled together a list of examples. These are some of our favorite line art examples from Dribbble, where artists post their design work to give others inspiration. If you like these designs, make sure to check out Dribbble to get more inspiration.

Shapes by Olga Semklo

The use of black lines that differ in thickness creates dimension and contrast in this design by Olga Semklo. We are seeing a lot of designs like this online for digital ads and web design. The expressive lines and pops of color make this design look contemporary while still recalling themes from classic line artists like Picasso and Matisse.

Red Continuous Contour by James Kwon

Continuous line drawings are very popular this year, and we are obsessed with this modern example of a continuous line drawing. Is this reminding anyone else of a 21st century Picasso drawing?

We can’t stop looking at the curving lines of this subject’s hair. This is an excellent example of how far you can take one-line style drawing. The color, style, and shading of this look like a modern street art design, and everything about this design stands out from the pack. This is line art done right.

Red Continuous Contour
Red Continuous Contour designed by James Kwon. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Line Art Animals by Tubik.arts

We love the abstract form that this artist used to depict animals. The pops of color and curving lines take the continuous line trend to the next level.

Abstract line art is a common line art trend, and while it looks simple, it can be pretty complicated to create. We think the artist did an excellent job of whittling these animals down to their essential forms.

This also goes along with the common trend of using organic shapes in line art. There isn’t much to the designs, but you can easily tell exactly which animal each drawing is depicting.

Pabst Blue Ribbon by Lisa Champ

This creative line drawing beer label design for Pabst Blue Ribbon is so fun. We love to see artists redesign famous logos and make them their own.

In this design, Lisa Champ uses line art in a creative way that is unlike many of the other line art examples we’ve seen. This design leans into the maximalist trend while still focusing on line art design.

It’s busy and colorful without being overly complicated and overwhelming for viewers. We can’t stop looking at it.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Label
Pabst Blue Ribbon Label designed by Lisa Champ. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

One Continuous Line Rose by Anna Rose

We love to see organic shapes in line art designs. This delicate flower line art design by Anna Rose (what an appropriate name) is fluid and perfectly minimalist. Plus, this artist embraces the continuous line method and makes it look effortless.

Adding pops of pastel color or a pastel watercolor background and light lines to create organic forms is a great way to mimic natural elements. Natural color palettes were trendy in 2021, and this design nails that trend.

One Continuous Line Rose
One Continuous Line Rose designed by Anna Rose. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Isometric Pumpkins by Mᴧuco Sosᴧ

This isometric line art design uses a mixture of colors, shapes, and lines thickness to create contrast. The artist used a line art technique to create a modern, futuristic appearing design using a very creative approach.

This design really stands out among the others because of the artist’s realistic depiction of pumpkins and abstract design for the human figures.

Isometric pumpkins
Isometric pumpkins designed by Mᴧuco Sosᴧ. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Forest by Alaina Johnson

The use of line art in this design is very on-trend right now. It really combines a lot of popular themes like color blocks, an overall matte appearance, and embracing the natural world.

The artist, Alaina Johnson, seems to have designed this as a self-portrait. We love the diversity of lines in this design and the muted natural color scheme.

Forest
Forest designed by Alaina Johnson. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Art Collector by tatooine girl

A line drawing of a line drawing? Very meta.

We love the way that emphasis was subtly created in this design. The artist of this design used a slightly lighter gray line and a muted yellow line to create dimension and draw your eye to certain elements of the design.

art collector
art collector designed by tatooine_girl. Connect with them on Dribbble; the global community for designers and creative professionals.

Now that you’re feeling inspired let’s learn how to create digital line art using Vectornator.

How to Create Digital Line Art with Vectornator

We hope you're feeling inspired and ready to create because this trend is hot, and you need to jump on board right away.

Digital line art is super popular right now, and we happen to know an excellent design program that you can use to practice and perfect this art style. With Vectornator, you can create everything from fundamental forms to a more complex three-dimensional form and even colored illustrations.

Check out this video for some visual examples of how the process works and some design tips from Jiromie tries to draw.

That tutorial is a great visual guide, but without any verbal instructions may be slightly confusing to follow. Let’s go over the steps that you can take to create your own line art in Vectornator.

Step 1

Pick Your Document Size and Background

You can use aesthetic backgrounds or a solid background for your base image. You can create a new custom document with your preferred size, or you can work from a template. This video explains how to use the Document Picker to get a design started.

Step 2

Decide on Your Tools

The Pen Tool to create some designs with a hand-drawn look.

The Pen Tool is used to define your own vector points and create custom paths with Bezier Curves. The Pen Tool allows you to create paths as straight lines (by tapping to create points) or curves (by tapping and holding to bend the line you just made).

Use the Brush Tool to draw freeform paths with variable widths.

In Vectornator, all brush strokes are vector paths, meaning they are fully editable, just like any other path inside the app. You can easily edit, remove, or add nodes to your Brush paths and change their position or type.

Use the Shape Tool to insert pre-made shapes.

The Shape Tool allows you to draw with pre-made geometric shapes like rectangles, circles, or straight lines. Plus, you can create fun shapes like stars and spirals. These shapes are easy to edit and customize in order to make them unique.

Graphic design icons
Step 3

Add text to your design (optional)

This step is entirely optional, depending on the type of design you are creating. If you want to include text in your design, you use the Text Tool to pick from many types of fonts, colors, and text sizes.

Step 4

‍Add color to your design (optional)

Color is one of the most crucial elements of illustration and graphic design. You can set and change your color properties with the Color Widget Tool and the Color Picker Tool. In Vectornator, any path, shape, or image can be edited inside the Inspector, allowing you to alter its color and style.

Graphic design UI
Step 5

Finalize the design

Get feedback from your customer or friends and then try out our Gesture Controls to make your final tweaks and edits. Getting feedback is essential, especially for new designers. And with Vectornator, it is easy to make changes and tweak your design to look exactly how you want it to.

Step 6

Save, print, or export to post

It's easy to save and print your digital files with Vectornator. We support a wide range of file formats for exporting your documents. And that’s it! Designing line art is simple with Vectornator. You’ll have tons of options to choose from to customize your design.

Time to get to work on your line art designs! We’re so excited to see what you do with the inspiration and tips we gave you in this article.

Download Vectornator to Get Started

Take your designs to the next level.

Illustration of two hands touching on a multi-colored background
Illustration of two hands touching on a multi-colored background

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