Lines and Curves

Instructional Video Production 4(1+3)

Lesson 02: Visual Grammar

Lines and Curves

Lines certainly have an impact on the viewer. Visual elements can be perceptually grouped into lines and used to direct the eye to the principal subject. This does not mean that a 'physical line' has to be present in the frame. Lines can be implied so as to guide the viewer's gaze. Whether lines are real (structural, painted images) or imaginary, they influ­ence the viewers' feelings about what they are seeing.

Vertical straight lines give an image formality and height. A row of tall trees lends dynamism to a frame. Horizontal lines lend breadth, stability, and openness. Imagine yourself sleeping on a bench. You are in a horizon­tal position. The 'horizontal' lines lend stability. An oblique viewpoint tends to arrest a viewer. Imagine your teacher in the classroom. You feel comfortable when the teacher stands on both legs. Now imagine the teacher standing on only one leg. He or she will tend to bend a bit. This image lends tension to the frame. You worry that the teacher might fall! Thus, diagonal lines are dynamic and exciting. Curved lines are associated with beauty, elegance, movement" and visual rhythm. A shot of a lotus flower and its leaves, and the ripples in the water around it is visually pleasing. Visualize the dome of Taj Mahal against a deep blue sky with the full moon in a frame.

Figure and ground Figure is the shape that we can see, whereas ground provides the figure a context to exist. Figure is the primary visual element being communicated. However, this can be transmitted only in relation to a ground (the context). Therefore, we have to keep in mind that though the figure stands out in an image, the ground is equally important since it pro­vides for directing our attention onto the figure. In short, the ground de­fines the foreground or the figure. They are separate, yet work together.

Understanding the relationship between figure and ground helps us at­tain good composition.

Figure is seen as having form, contour, or shape, while ground-is seen as having none of these characteristics. Figure is perceived as being closer to the viewer; though in reality it need not be so. Figure is usually smaller in area than ground. Another point to note is that figure/ground cannot be seen simultaneously. They are viewed sequentially.

Factors like light, colour, texture, and position of the figure come into play when composing pictures.

Last modified: Thursday, 19 April 2012, 11:31 AM