Non-Objective Line Design

NOLD example

Essential Question(s):

  • What are the Elements of Art?

  • What is non-objective art? 

  • What is composition?

  • What are the Principles of Design, balance & contrast?

Mastery Objective(s): The student will…

demonstrate his/her understanding of the Elements of Art  & Principles of Design by creating a design that successfully uses non-objective subject matter.


  1. artwork based on the Elements of Art, not on something real.


[kom-puh–zish–uh n]

  1. the effective selection and arrangement of your subject matter within the picture area.

Rule of Thirds Intersection                   Rule of Thirds Breakdown

For in-depth information on RULE of THIRDS proceed to this link

[bal–uh ns]

  1. the equilibrium of various elements within the work of art.  Arranging elements to create VISUAL  STABILITY so that no one part overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part.
  • Symmetrical/Formal Balance- equal balance on each side of an imaginary middle line.
  • Asymmetrical/Informal Balance- balance achieved through unequal distribution on each side of and imaginary middle line.
  • Radial Balance- occurs when elements in a work are positioned around a center point.

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Step No. 1:


  • Begin by tracing stencil of 4 x 5.5 inches 4 times
  • Create a non-objective line design into each thumbnail. Each sketch must show these items listed in the checklist below.



  • Rule of Thirds: focal point on an intersection
    • Value
    • Texture
    • Size
    • Line width and length
    • Shapes
    • Does eye move around the whole piece
    • Objects are going off the frame of the paper

Step No. 2:

  • choose 1 of your 4 thumbnails that have the most successful COMPOSITION with

Step No. 3: 

  • get FINAL paper
  • measure and lightly draw border around paper (1/2 inch) on all 4 sides

Step No. 4:

  • lightly sketch out drawing from thumbnail with the same proportions and placement, only larger, on final paper
  • when completed with final sketch, begin shading FINAL VERSION  with graphite (ebony pencils and HB pencil) and erasers (latex, kneaded and mechanical eraser) – remember your eraser is a drawing tool as well 🙂

Skills & Techniques:

Other than learning composition and placement with the Elements of Art, you need to practice shading techniques. Most Art 1 students start out using a lot of smudging, however, in this Art 1 course, it is going to be important for you to learn and master some of the other techniques as well. Such as hatching, cross-hatching, stippling, random marks and most importantly, blending! Here are some videos to get you started:

Here are some videos about basic drawing tools and techniques like erasing and how to hold a pencil:

Lesson idea from Beth Coast