Point, line and plane are the elementary units of graphic design. If you were to deconstruct a design or a communication workpiece, these are the basic units you’ll find. Point, line and plane are the constituent parts of the graphic designer’s masterpiece.
A point locates a position in space or on the canvas. In graphic design, a point takes on the form as a dot which is a perceivable mark. A series of points form a line and an assemblage of points makes a texture, shape or plane. A point is comparable with an atom. It is the smallest particle of a graphical element that can exist on a communication piece.
In typography, a period or full stop is a point. It marks the end of a message, sentence or worded line. In a paragraph, a period sparks off the beginning of a new message, sentence and line. A character or an alphabet in a sentence can be regarded as a point in a line. A string of characters or alphabets forms a sentence. Likewise, colour printing on printed communications involves points. In printing, an image or colour is formed by overlapping colour dots which are akin to points. In digital communications, a point is equivalent to a pixel, a minuscule area illuminated on a display screen. An image on a display screen is formed by many pixels of colour.
At the macro level, the greatest or most important point of a visual is the focal point. Graphic design is communication through visual means. Having a strong focal point, is paramount in capturing the audience’s gaze.
A line is made up of a chain of points which establishes the connection between two points. In graphic design, a line exists in various weights or thicknesses. The line can be continuous, broken, straight or curved. When a line reaches a considerable thickness, it becomes a plane. A line can be perceivable or invisible. The axis to which graphical elements are aligned to is an invisible line. The grid system in design is a collection of invisible lines.
In typography, a sentence makes a line. Characters of a typeface rest on a baseline. When a paragraph of text is aligned typographically, a line is implied. Such a line is invisible and not drawn.
The most significant line in a communication piece is the visual path which the graphic designer has planned for the viewer’s eye to take. A good communication piece has the ability to direct and guide the visual path of the audience. It can be achieved through a well-designed composition, intelligent use of colours or proper textual hierarchy.
A plane is a flat surface with considerable height and width. When a line closes, it forms a shape, a defined plane. A plane which is parallel to the picture surface is flat. When a plane skews and recedes into space, it becomes dimensional.
In typography, a paragraph of text or a text area is a plane. A plane of text is made up of lines of text which comprise of points of text (individual characters).
In a communication piece, the plane is an important design unit. A common plane or one that is much used and seen, is non-stirring. A unique or rare plane brings visual excitement to the viewer and makes a strong visual impression.