Chapter 4: Type on a Grid

4.2 Exercise 2: Lines

Lines can be thin or thick, bumpy or smooth, dotted or solid, or straight or curvy. A line is the result of connecting any two points on a plane. In this exercise we make a straight, thick, black line. In later chapter exercises, you will create lines by alluding to them with repetitious single forms or by the gaze of the photographically reproduced subjects within the composition. Lines can be used to provide direction, to separate parts of the page, or to support elements on which images or typography rests. Many of the typographic visual references from The Bauhaus (1919 – 33) include heavy lines that are used to separate areas of the page and provide direction for the viewer’s gaze. Notice that while the line we will create does separate the headline from the body copy on the page, it does not cut the page into two distinct parts by running from edge to edge of the document. By leaving negative space at the left edge of the composition, this line creates negative space that pushes the viewer’s gaze towards the body copy within the composition.

  1. Press the letter “d” on the keypad to load the default colors into the fill and stroke icons at the bottom of the Tool Palette. The default colors that load into fill and stroke in Illustrator® are black and white. The default colors that load into the color chips within the Tool Palettes of any of the Adobe® Creative Suite® programs are black and white. The letter “d” on the keypad always loads black and white into the color chips in the Tool Palette.
  2. Click on the Line Segment Tool. Clicking and dragging with this tool creates a new line. Clicking then holding the shift key (SHFT) while dragging creates a new line at a 0, 45, or 90 degree angle. Create a new straight line across the horizontal guide.
    Image of the Tools panel and the location of the line segment tool
    The location of the Line Segment Tool
  3. Release the mouse and the line will be selected. If you click someplace off of the line and accidentally deselect it, reselect it using the Selection Tool. With the line selected, look in the Control Palette at the top of the document window. Notice that the line has values associated with it, including a fill color (automatically set to nothing, as signified by the red stripe across a white field), a stroke color (black) and a numeric value, indicating the weight of the stroke. Change the numeric value of the stroke weight on the line to 30 by typing 30 into the value box.
    Control Palette with Path (line) options.
    The Control panel changes according to the tool you choose.
  4. Adjust the line so that it begins at about an inch into the page from the left edge by using the Selection Tool. The line may extend beyond the page edge on the right side. Anything that is outside of the page, represented by the black frame of the Artboard, will not be printed.
  5. Deselect the line by clicking anywhere on the Artboard outside of the anchor points surrounding the line with the Selection Tool.