With Gil Dekel, PhD.


Create two different compositions using five lines only per composition. One composition should be ‘loud’; the other should be ‘quiet’.



Learn to be creative and make the best use of minimum resources. Time, budget and resources are usually limited ‎in any workplace. Learning to turn the best out ‎of the minimum available is becoming a ‎requirement. It can save on production time, ‎costs, and on use of natural resources.‎
Learn to ‘see’ simple elements (lines) from ‎different perspectives, and use the same ‎elements to produce opposite results.‎ In design, the shift of one single element (such as a change in line, colour, or texture) can produce complete different result (it can turn a ‘happy’ image to ‘sad’, or effective interface to non-engaging).

Students will experience how composition can elevate their design; and how they can think about putting emphasis on some elements (for example, a switch button), and hide other elements (for example, a screw or fixing that does not need to be visible).

Learn structure and compositions.‎ In product design, students need to design parts that work together, and enables seamless user experience.

In graphic design, students need to design posters and other materials with elements that work together and lead the eye to the main message. This should invite users to take action.


  • A4 white paper.
  • Glue stick.
  • Black cardboard stripes (length A4, width about 1.5cm).


Why use lines?

This basic element represents itself, and not something else. As Sol LeWitt said [1] “…a drawing of a person in not a real person, but a drawing of a line is a real line”. Using this basic design’s ingredient can help focus students’ attention as it removes other visual distractions.


Activity instructions:

  • Using five black stripes, create one composition that is ‘loud’ – when looking at it it should shout at you.
    * 5 minutes.
  • Using five black stripes, create another composition. This one should be ‘quiet’ – when looking at it it should give a sense of solitude, even shyness.
    * 5 minutes.
  • Students are allowed to cut the black stripes to make them shorter, or glue them together to make them longer.
  • If the black lines extend beyond the edge of the white paper, then trim the excess off.
  • Hang all works on a wall in the class.
  • Discuss in class.


Questions [2] :

  • In what ways the limitations help to be creative?
  • How arranging five lines in various ways alters their value?  
  • Is positioning your lines in various ways improved or degraded the design?  



[1] Quoted in Dekel, Gil. (2012). Portrait of a Line. Accessed 28 November 2016, from: https://www.poeticmind.co.uk/research/portrait-of-a-line/

[2] Watson, Stephen. (n.d.) Art With Only Five Lines. Accessed 28 November 2016, from: http://www.incredibleart.org/lessons/undergrad/fivelines.html


© Gil Dekel. 1 Dec 2016.

Creative Commons Licence
Design with five lines only – a lesson plan by Dr. Gil Dekel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.