Term for line based vs area/shape based thinking

I am interested in working out terms to use for following things

  • If you draw drawings based on lines or segments, and don’t worry about the areas they enclose just the lines themselves and how they glance each other. Currently I would say that this kind of drawing has a priority for lines. Or line priority.

  • If you draw with enclosed areas and close all your shapes then I call that you have you have a area or rather shape priority.

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Image 1: Difference in thinking

So for example Illustrator is built with shape priority in mind. If for we take arbitrary feature like pathfinder it is unable to delete line segments. But perfectly capable of building enclosed areas. It is not until shape builder that you can consider deleting line segments, even then only if there isn’t a area to choose over the line segment.

Now as a counter example. Engineering applications and documentation often are built on line priority. As far as explanations go that’s all fine and dandy.

However does anybody know if the names line priority and area/shape priority have some known terms in well known literature.


I think based on the discourses I encountered both in architectural design and drawing classes (and since) and similar discourses in my original art and drawing classes decades earlier, I might go with “linear” and “contour“… in that contour is a multi-segment line (e.g. CADD polyline) drawn and perceived specifically to define a form.

Now, to be clear, a contour need not be closed per se, but… the emphasis in creating the contour is not primarily its own linear graphic qualities, but rather the space, shape, area or form it delineates; its own intrinsic qualities are subordinate to its task in delineating form.

In architectural perspective drawing (or in many iso drawings) one uses “spatial boundary” line weight to help discriminate an object’s boundary against space from a near planar edge… so the convention is that spatial boundaries are heavier, whereas planar transitions are lighter, and in-plane material transitions are yet lighter. This commonly-accepted visual hierarchy helps to make for quick easy comprehension of complex 3D formal composition absent other depth cues such as shading, atmospheric perspective (sfumato) – and in the process, the “spatial boundary” becomes what in life drawing classes I learned to call contours: that lineweight will transition from one “line segment” to anther to convey the “spatial boundary” quality.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about (yes all are mine to post) – you can see (especially in the last two examples) that even when another hierarchy of lineweights is at play, the spatial boundary quality is of immense use, and makes contours easy to see:
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And yes, there is a contouring error in this last one: it was a factor of the technique used to generate some of the original linework and the BIM tool used at that time – overall, however, the approach still reads well, even with that error.
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Source : Link , Question Author : joojaa , Answer Author : GerardFalla

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