Point, line and plane are described as being the building blocks of graphic design. These fundamentals are key to any design in which designers create icons, patterns, images, textures and typographic systems. This is where I will begin my journey to understand the basic laws of design.
A point can reside in any position or place on a canvas, which can be represented as a dot. Mathematically, a point marks a set of coordinates. The humble dot can be arranged in ways that create planes, shapes and textures. Even though small and simplistic, this dot can convey a full stop in typography, the end of a sentence. Printing in colour requires many different colour dots to create an image as well as on digital devices, where this dot is known as a pixel, and digital screens form a display using many of these pixels.
On a bigger scale, the dot is the visual focal point of any design, with graphic design being communication through visual means. This makes the focal point the most important part of enabling you to capture the viewers’ attention.
A line is made up of a series of points arranged in a linear manner, which correlates the connection between two points. This line can vary in degrees of weight or thickness, being continuous or broken and either straight or curved. The line can also be invisible, and this invisible axis is what designers use to align the graphical elements of their composition, otherwise known as a grid system.
The lines most significant role used by graphic designers is the planned visual path in which the viewers eye will take. In turn, a well-designed piece is one that has the ability to direct the viewers’ attention toward this intended visual path.
When a line reaches a considerable thickness, it becomes what’s known as a plane. This can take many different shapes when each end meets one another. I like Lupton & Phillips explanation of this “A line closes to become a shape, a bounded plane”.
Planes can be used to group visual elements together or, in contrast, separate pieces of information that aren’t related.
Below are my examples of using point, line and plane in 3×3 squares increasing the frequency each time with 2, 3 and 5.
With these three words in mind, I started researching artists and brands that create designs built on these solid principles. I went on to choose just a few of the designs I liked the most from the designers I researched, also trying out the style of these artists for myself. I really enjoyed exploring the different ways point, line and plane is used in its simplest form.
Josh Worth – If The Moon Were Only 1 Pixel
If The Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, a tediously accurate scale of the solar system is a side scrolling, interactive visualisation of the solar system which represents the sun, each planet and their moons and circles which are to scale based on if the moon was only 1 pixel in size. This idea was created by Josh Worth, an interactive artist/interface designer who, in many of his works, uses the point or dot as his basis for his designs. Among his works is the visual display of data, and as a lover of all things outer world, I really enjoyed his interpretation of using the point to display the distance between and size of the objects in our solar system. this is a create way to make information fun for the viewer and turn it into something you can interact with keeping the viewer engaged and apart of the experience of discovering just how much you have to scroll between each planet. John Worth also designed an infographic for ‘The Planetary Society’ website, where he placed asteroids at the different distances that they have been estimated to have come close by Earth using points as the Moon, Earth and all the asteroids that have passed in-between the two, from 2010 to 2020.
Using Worths the idea of creating to scale points to visualise information, I designed an image that represents everyone that lives in my house as points on a page. This includes me, my boyfriend, our cat Kizzy and my lovebird Opal.
Richard Chartier – LINE
Richard Chartier is a graphic designer, sound and installation artist born in 1971. He creates microsound electronic music and has made recordings for labels all over the world. In tandem with this, he explores the relationship between sound and art and is well known for his minimal, clean aesthetic design and typography. He has created logos, posters and designs for things like magazines, book covers and record albums in his 20 plus years as a designer.
The pieces that I like the most from Richard Chartier consist of work he released from LINE. In particular, his album work during this time where he used lines to visualise the length of songs on the album and on another the line represented the rhythm of a song and frequency of the beat. Between 2015-16 Chartier realised a series of sound and digital works collaborating with a sound artist named ELEH. On one of the albums covers features the word LINELEH, which is joins LINE and ELEH together and is entirely comprised of overlapping lines which is mirrored vertically with a black background and white and tan lettering.
This design is very minimalistic in its use of lines, and I liked the idea of creating letters and names using this overlapping design of lines and tried my own version of his work using my name and the names of those close to me. In keeping with the minimalist approach of the artist, I decided to try and use as little letters as possible when recreating the names.
Another artist that uses linework in his design is Nigel Peake, who is an architect that creates ‘kaleidoscopic cities’. Using only lines, Peake sketches things like houses, barns, apartments and office buildings to skylines and arial views of cities. He has created many works such as window displays, prints, catalogue and tableware designs for the Designer brand Hermes. The uniformity of lines building to create a bigger collection of lines that then forms a building is minimalist in its ideals but when it comes together displays a busy page with lots of detail. In an interview with The Casual Optimist, Peake describes how his upbringing is reflected in his enjoyment of vernacular architecture and what buildings are held up by and this is displayed in his linework.
This inspired me to create a linework drawing of the house a currently live in.
Wolf Olins – Plane
Wolf Olins is a well-established brand consultancy that was founded in 1965. They have work with a massive list of well-known brands such as TicTok, Virgin Media, Tesco, Google, Uber, Axa and many many more. Using the plane as the fundamental aspect in all their designs, they create simplistic branding and typography that is easily recognised and represents the company that it was created for. They created branding for Tesco with a new typeface called ‘Tesco Modern’ with the help of Colophon and as Tesco is a British supermarket, the theme was to follow the union jack flag. Their mission was to create simplistic, energetic branding, designing the logo on a grid.
Wolff Olins also did branding work for Google in 2018 when they launched Google Tasks. Many pieces of iconography and animations were created for loading screens and aspects of the standalone app. Their aim was to take the feeling of ticking completed tasks off a paper list and transfer that seem feeling onto a digital screen. What was then established was several icons that consisted of various planes, mostly rounded rectangles and dots. The way that these planes interact with one another and transform into other icons gives the app a personality and sense playfulness and simplistic visuals, as many aspects of Google already have implemented in the branding.