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Art Glossary


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the degree of lightness or darkness of a surface; sometimes called "tone"
Value Contrast
the degree of difference between light and dark areas (as in "high contrast" or "low contrast"
Value Gradiation
gradual stages or transistions between light and dark
in two-dimensional work, a figure or area which is flat (non-dimensional)
in two-dimensional work, a figure that appears to be three-dimensional;sometimes called "mass" or "volume"
Geometric Shape (or form)
a shape created according to mathematical laws dealing with the measurement and relationships of points, lines, and planes. Shapes that are derived from squares, circles, triangles, trapezoids, ect.
Organic shape (or form)
a shape that is derived from nature. Shapes that have neither straight edges nor regular curves.
Positive Shapes
The enclosed areas that represent the initial selection of shapes planned by the artist. Positive shapes may suggest recognizable objects or nonrepresentational shapes.
Negative areas or shapes
the unoccupied or empty space left after the positive shapes have been laid down by the artist.
the area that seems closest to the observer in a two-dimensional work that creates an illusion of tree-dimensionality.
Picture plane
the actual flat surface on which the artist executes a pictorial image. This frontal boundary of a two-dimensional work is similar to a plate of glass behind which shapes or forms can be arranged to create the illusion of distance ("spatial depth")
the use of the same visual element a number of times in the same composistion. Repetition can accomplish a dominance of one visual idea, pattern, visual unity, rhythmic movement.
a compositional and visual counter-balance to repetition. Developing variations on a theme, adding visual contrast to a design
a continuance, a flow, or a feeling of movement achieved by repetiontion of regulated visual units or measured accents. A visually accented beat that helps move the viewer's eye through an artwork.
a feeling of equality in weight, or emphasis of various visual design elements within an artwork.
Asymmetrical Balance
a form of imbalance or balance attained when visual images are placed in positions within the pictorial field so as to create a "felt" equilibrium.
Symmetrical Balance
"Equal Balance", bilateral placement of identical figures on either side of an imaginary central line.
Linear perspective
A system for creating the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane, derived from the optical illusion that parallel lines (lines parallel to the ground plane), if extended to the horizon, appear to converge at a point on the horizon.
Cone of vision
cone-shaped field of vision with an approximate angle of 60 degrees.
Center line of sight
Center of the cone of vision; straight line from the eye to the object focused upon.
Horizon line
the horizon line is the same as eye level or the height from the ground plane to the eye.
Vanishing point
any two or more lines that in reality are parallel will converge at a point on the horizon and only on the horizon line.
Converging lines
lines parallel to the ground plane that recede into space will converge at the horizon. lines above the horizon drop doewn to meet the horizon. lines below the horizon rise up to meet the horizon.
Bird's eye view
High view point, looking down at objects.
Worm's eye view
Low view point, looking up at objects.
One-point perspective
(also known as parallel perspective) representation of objects that are parallel to the picture plane. Perspective with only on vanishing point on the horizon.
Two-point perspective
(also known as angular perspective)representation of objects not parallel to the picute plane. perspective with two vanishing points on the horizon.
Three-point perspective
(also known as oblique perspective) perspective of three planes using three vanishing points - two on the horizon and one above or below the horizon
Aerial perspective
(also known as atmospheric perspective) the use of softer edges, lessened value contrast, and less distinct detail in the areas intended to be interpreted as being farther away from the observer, as in hills from a distance.

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