How do I make lines of different thickness with just ONE marker?

How do I make lines of different thickness with just ONE marker?

Practice making the boldest lines you can with this exercise! Position the tip of your marker for maximum contact with the paper, and get dotting away 🙂

Strangely therapeutic too, we say!

For this exercise, you will need:

  • a wedge-nib marker (see photo above for an example of a wedge-nib marker). You can also use a square-nib marker — they are similar except that the nib edge is parallel to the marker base instead of slanted.
  • a writing surface (e.g. paper or board). I recommend a large surface where you have more room for expression. You can use a used sheet of paper or newspaper too. Do test if the marker would soak through the paper if you mind.
  • (optional: soothing background music)

Step-by-step instructions:

You can take as long as you like with each step before moving on to the next.

Step 1

Start at the top of the paper or board. With your marker in hand, how would you angle the marker so that you can draw the thickest possible horizontal line from left to right (or right to left, if you’re left-handed or just prefer)? Go ahead, make that line.

Step 2

Once you do, go ahead and make another ultra-thick horizontal line below that. And another, and another… until you feel that space is adequately filled up. You can space the lines out any way you like. What do you notice about the way you position the marker? What do you notice about the way you place your hand on the surface to create the lines you have in mind?

Step 3

Now, let’s fill up the spaces between these thick lines. Starting from the top of the paper or board again. How would you angle the marker so that you can make the thinnest possible horizontal line from left to right (or right to left, if you’re left-handed or just prefer)? Go ahead, make that first skinny line.

Step 4

Once you do, go ahead and make another ultra-thin horizontal line to fill the next in-between space below. And another, and another… until you feel that the space is adequately filled up. You can space the lines out any way you like. What do you notice about the way you position the marker? What do you notice about the way you place your hand on the surface to create the lines you have in mind?

Step 5

Start at the left (or right, if more intuitive for you) of the paper or board. With your marker in hand, how would you angle the marker so that you can draw the thickest possible vertical line from top to bottom? Go ahead, make that line.

Step 6

Once you do, go ahead and make another ultra-thick vertical line to the right (or left). And another, and another… until you feel that the space is adequately filled up. You can space the lines out any way you like. What do you notice about the way you position the marker? What do you notice about the way you place your hand on the surface to create the lines you have in mind? If you are making these marks on an upright surface (such as a wall-mounted whiteboard or flip chart stand), what do you notice about your body posture and movement?

Step 7

Now, let’s fill up the spaces between these thick vertical lines. Starting from the left (or right) of the paper or board again. How would you angle the marker so that you can make the thinnest possible vertical line? Go ahead, make that first skinny vertical line.

Step 8

Once you do, go ahead and make another uber-skinny vertical line to the right (or left). And another, and another… until you feel that space is adequately filled up. You can space the lines out any way you like. What do you notice about the way you position the marker? What do you notice about the way you place your hand on the surface to create the lines you have in mind? If you are making these marks on an upright surface (such as a wall-mounted whiteboard or flip chart stand), what do you notice about your body posture and movement? What adjustments would you make to your hand and body posture, to make your movements more fluid and flowing?

Step 9

As you bring this to completion, what do you notice about the pattern that emerges?

An example of a tartan pattern that emerged from one of our line-making exercises!

Some helpful tips and questions:

  • When you are starting out, it’s okay to go slow and make markings in gradations instead of at a go.
  • As you get the hang of it, my encouragement and invitation to you are to begin to connect your movements and pick up speed.
  • Feel free to switch up your marker colours between steps, or any time you like.
  • If you worked on a flip chart or sheet of paper, you can keep or reuse the pattern created as an abstract tartan gift wrap.
  • This exercise can be used to enhance concentration and correct your writing and drawing posture.
  • If you chose to play music in the background, what influence did the music have on you, and the lines you were making?

Have fun, and let me know in the comments below how this exercise worked for you!