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Drawing Glossary - Art and Drawing Terms and Definitions

Drawing Glossary - go beyond the dictionary definition to find out the meanings of words used in art, drawing, sketching and printmaking. Includes useful technical terms, tricky art jargon and all sorts of words that you need to know.

Palimpsest - Meaning and Examples
Palimpsest. The layers within the word itself echo its meaning. Find out more about the definition of palmipsest, examples and application in art.

Drawing Glossary Index
A shorter alphabetical index of Drawing Glossary entries for quick reference. Find out the meaning of drawing terminology and jargon, check spelling and pronunciation.

Balance - What is Balance?
We're always talking about balance. A balanced life, a balanced diet. But what does it mean in the context of art, drawing and composition?

Bistre Ink - What is Bistre Ink?
You've heard the name before, but do you know what color it really is? And how is this pigment created?

Burnishing - What is Burnishing?
You've heard the term burnished bronze before... maybe even seen a line in a poem about the beloved's burnished hair... but what on earth is burnished colored pencil?

Carbon Black - What is Carbon Black?
Carbon. One of the first things you learn about in highschool science, and the last thing you hear about on the nightly news. When it's not messing up the atmosphere, what's it doing in our art supplies, and how did it get there?

Cartoon - What is a Cartoon?
No, it's not the comic strip in the back of the newspaper. Or the bad animation on Saturday morning television. Find out the meaning of the cartoon to a traditional artist.

Color - What is Color?
Find out a dictionary definition for color and learn about what this means for the artist. Is color real or is it in our imagination? How do you use it in drawing?

Colorless Blender - What is a Colorless Blender?
There's a whole bunch of ways to blend - from fingertips to tortillons, but for jewel-like colored pencil drawings, this one is my favorite. Read the definition to find out more!

Contour - Using Line in Drawing
The lines on a map are called contours, but while they are related, the word 'contour' in drawing has a very different application.

Crosshatching - What is Crosshatching?
Crosshatching is an extension of hatching, which uses is the use of fine parallel lines drawn closely together, to create the illusion of shade or texture in a drawing.

Deckle - What is a Deckle Edge?
If you've picked up a piece of handmade paper, you've seen the effects of a deckle. Find out what it is and why printmakers sometimes 'fake' it?

Diptych - What is a Diptych?
Often associated with art history, this format remains popular today. Find the meaning and examples of the diptych in art.

Foreshortening - What is Foreshortening?
Foreshortening is when an object appears compressed when seen from a particular viewpoint, and the effect of perspective causes distortion. Particularly effective when well rendered on the picture plane to create the illusion of a figure in space.

Format - What is Format?
Format refers to the size, shape and orientation of your paper or canvas. Portrait format means the paper is oriented with the shorter sides horizontal, while landscape describes paper with longer horizontals.

Graphite - What is Graphite?
Graphite is the 'gray lead in your drawing pencil. Graphite is not lead at all; the misnomer arose because it was mistaken for a form of lead when first discovered in England.

Grisaille - What is Grisaille?
Grisaille, from the French word 'gris' for gray, is a word you'll come across in art history and when exploring traditional techniques. It might even be a technique you want to try yourself!

Golden Rectangle or Golden Mean
The Golden Rectangle is a proportion discovered by Euclid and often used in artistic compositions. Find out more about the Golden Rectangle, also called the golden mean or golden ratio.

Hatching - What is Hatching?
Definition of Hatching. What is hatching in drawing? Hatching is the use of fine, parallel lines drawn closely together...

Horizon Line - What is the Horizon Line?
What is the Horizon Line in drawing? The horizon line in perspective drawing is a horizontal line across the picture...

Implied Line - What is an implied line?
Find out what it is and how to use this important part of your technical toolkit. Implied lines are a useful technique in pure line drawing when dealing with indefinite areas or complex changes of plane, and are also used in a range of compositional contexts.

India Ink - What is India Ink
India, or Indian ink is one of the most well known mediums in drawing and calligraphy. Or is that Chinese ink? Read the definition to find out!

Iron Gall Ink - What is Iron Gall Ink?
Here's one for the traditionalists. Got an old document or drawing done with iron gall? Find out what it is and why it might be getting fragile!

Ivory Black - What is Ivory Black?
What is this black pigment really made from - and is it suitable for vegans?

Juxtaposition - What is Juxtaposition?
Juxtaposition is placing compositional elements close together, in order to compare or contrast their qualities.

Lamp Black - Pigment
One of the most commonly used pigments in art materials. Find out more about lamp black, how it is made and what it's used in.

Line - What is 'Line' in drawing?
In drawing, what is meant by the term 'line'? A definition of the drawing term 'line'.

Not a physical weight on a string, but still a valuable item in the artist's virtual toolbox.

Negative Space - What is Negative Space?
Negative Space is the area of an image not occupied by shapes or forms.

Orthogonals - What are Orthogonals ?
In Linear Perspective drawing, the diagonal lines that can be drawn along receding parallel lines (or rows of objects) to the vanishing point.

You probably remember Papyrus from grade school history classes. The Egyptians were such a fascinating culture to study! Find out more about this important material.

Parchment - What is Parchment?
Do you know what real parchment is made from? Find out more about the qualities of this traditional writing and drawing material.

Perspective - What is Perspective?
Definition of Linear Perspective and Atmospheric Perspective as applied to drawing.

Quill Pen
Those crazy long fluffy things they sell as fancy-dress props might be technically quills, but I wouldn't like to draw with one. Find out more about the real thing.

Scumbling - What is Scumbling?
In drawing, scumbling is sometimes used to describe a random, scribbled texture, with figure-eight and concave shapes used to create a spiky texture, rather than the common circular scribble.

Sepia Ink - What is Sepia?
You've probably seen sepia tone before, on old photographs or as a selection in your graphics program's special effects.

Sketch - What Is A Sketch?
What is a sketch? Find out the meaning of the word sketch used in reference to art and drawing.

Tetraptych - What Is a Tetraptych
Now here's a word you don't hear every day. You might know diptych and tripych, so can you guess what tetraptych means? Find out if you're right!

Texture - What is Texture?
Texture describes the tactile quality of a form. Accurate rendering of an object's texture is the key to very realistic (particularly 'photo-realistic') drawing.

Tone - What is Tone or Tonal Value?
In art, tone refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of an area. Tone varies from the bright white of a light source through shades of gray to the deepest black shadows. Also known as value.

Tortillon - What is a Tortillon?
A favorite tool of realist artists for creating and manipulating texture find out what a tortillon or torchon is and how to use it.

Triptych - What Is a Triptych?
Sounds a bit exotic but you've probably seen pictures in this format before - and maybe even made one yourself. Here you'll find the meaning, etymology and an example.

Trois Crayons - What is Aux Trois Crayons Technique?
Literally 'with three pencils', 'aux trois crayons' technique is a traditional style of drawing using black, red (sanguine) and white chalk, often on a tinted (cream) paper.

What is a Vanishing Point?
What is a vanishing point in perspective drawing?

Vitruvian Man - What is the Vitruvian Man
This is one of the most famous images ever drawn, and has been influential for centuries. And did the Vitruvian man really fly into space with the Voyager?

What is Art?
What is art? There are many answers to that question, depending on your point of view, your personal perspective. Most of them are valid in one way or another. Here's my reasonably learned opinion.

What is a Working Drawing?
What is a working drawing? Find out what a working drawing is in different contexts, with links to examples.

What is a Mandala?
What is a Mandala? Find short definitions of 'mandala' and learn more about the mandala's meaning and symbolism in traditional and contemporary art.

What is Signatory Line?
Explore out the meaning of 'signatory line', its purpose in art and find tips on making your own drawn line as expressive as your signature.

Catalogue Raisonné
More than just a catalogue of an artist's work, an important tool for art historians and gallerists.

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