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College of Fine Arts and Communication
School of Art and Design

Foundations Glossary




This perspective is based on the observation that atmosphere, particularly air close to the earth, contains particles which obscure distant objects. As objects are more distant they appear less clear.

Analogous Color Color which is limited to two or more hues which are adjacent or close to one another on the color wheel and the various values and intensities of those hues.
Asymmetrical Balance (not symmetrical) A form of balance in which visual units on either side of an axis are not identical but are placed so as to create a felt equilibrium.
Balance A feeling of equality in weight, attention, or attraction of the various visual elements within a work of art.
Color The character of a surface that is the result of the response of vision to the wavelength of light reflected from that surface.
Color Perspective The use of color contrasts in intensity (bright vs. dull), temperature (warm vs. cool), and value (light vs. dark) to cause areas of a composition to seem to advance or recede.
Color Spectrum Sunlight when passing through a prism divides into seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) each of which has a specific and measurable wavelength. When mixed together these colors create white light (all the visible wavelengths).
Color Systems Structured organizations of hue, value, and intensity such as: the twelve color wheel, the Munsell Color System, and the Ostwald Color System.
Color Temperature The characteristic of a color which makes it appear either warm or cool in feeling. Red, orange, and yellow are usually considered warm while colors containing blue are thought of as cool.
Color Wheel A circular arrangement of twelve colors with yellow, red, and blue as equidistant primary hues. This arrangement is used by most artists who utilize pigment colors.
Complementary Colors Two colors which are directly opposite each other on the color wheel.
Content The expression, essential meaning, significance, or aesthetic value of a work of art. Content refers to the subjective, psychological, or emotional properties we find in a work of art (what the work makes us feel) as opposed to its descriptive aspects (subject matter).
Contour Line A line that defines the shape(s) of an object.
Contrast Diversity of adjacent parts in color, emotion, or tone. The use of diverse elements within a composition.
Dominance The principle of visual organization that suggests that certain elements should assume more importance than others in the same composition.
Economy The efficient and sparing use of the means available for the end proposed. Using only the essentials for an intended effect.
Elements of Design Color
Shape (Form, Volume, Mass)
Space (Time, Movement)
A two-dimensional relationship between a shape (figure) and its surrounding area (ground).
Form The total appearance or organization of a work of art. The total arrangement of a work including all the elements and principles used. "Form" can also refer to three-dimensional shape.
Gesture A rapid indication of the primary expressive attitudes of an object, or a space.
Harmony A pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts, which helps to unify the visual elements of a composition.
Hue (Color) Designates the common name of a color and indicates its position in the spectrum or on the color wheel. Hue is determined by the specific wavelength of a color.
Intensity The brightness or dullness of a hue. The saturation, strength or purity of a color. The quality of light reflected by a surface.
Line The path of a moving point. A mark or path made across a surface or through space with length as its primary visual dimension.
Linear Perspective A system for representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface; it treats the optical phenomenon of diminishing size by treating edges as converging parallel lines which extend to a vanishing point on the horizon (at eye-level).
Mass A three-dimensional unit having weight and density.
Monochromatic A color scheme which uses one hue and its various values.
Neutral Color Surface hues that do not reflect a single wavelength of light, but rather all of them at once. A color may be neutralized (reduced in intensity) by mixture with its complement or any of the neutrals: white, gray or black.
Orthographic Projection A two-dimensional graphic representation of an object showing a plan, a vertical elevation, and/or a section.
Paraline Drawing Paraline drawings include all parallel line drawing types. The three commonly used types are: isometric, diametric, and oblique.
Pattern The repetition of elements in a recognized systematic organization.
Perspective Any system used to create the illusion of three-dimensional images and/or spatial relationships on a two-dimensional surface.
Plane Areas of surface that have height and width but little apparent depth.
Point Defines a position in space.
Primary Hues
Based on the twelve color arrangement, the three primary hues are yellow, red, and blue. They are equally spaced on the color wheel. These hues cannot be mixed by combining other hues.
Principles of Design
Balance (Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, Radial)
Dominance (Emphasis)
Repetition (Rhythm, Pattern)
Proportion A relation of one part to the whole with respect to size, quantity, or degree.
Radial Balance A form of balance where identical compositional parts are distributed around a central point to create an equilibrium.
Repetition Recurrence of the same or similar elements in a composition.
Rhythm A continuance, flow, or feeling of movement achieved by repetition of regulated visual elements. Measured accents.
Scale A term which refers to relative size as compared to some constant such as the size of the human body.
Secondary Hues (Colors) Based on the twelve color arrangement, the threesecondary hues are orange, violet, and green. These hues are placed between the primaries from which they are mixed.
Space The distance between points or images
Shape An area made distinguishable from its surrounding by a linear boundary or a change in color, value, or texture.
Subject In a descriptive style of art, this refers to the persons or things represented, as well as the artist's experience(s) that serve as inspiration. In abstract or nonobjective art, subject refers to the visual signs employed by the artist and may have little to do with things experienced in the natural world.
Symmetrical Balance Equality and correspondence in size, shape, color, relative position, etc. on opposite sides of a dividing line or axis.
Tertiary Hues Based on a twelve hue arrangement, the six tertiary hues are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue green, and yellow-green. These hues are placed between the primary and secondary hues from which they are mixed.
Texture The surface character of a material which may be experienced through touch or the illusion of tactile quality.
Triadic Color A color scheme consisting of three hues which are equally spaced on the color wheel and their various values and intensities.
Unity The combination or order of parts in a work which promotes an undivided total effect.
Value The lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a hue. The quantity of light reflected.
Variety (The counterweight of harmony in a work of art ) - The use of opposing, contrasting, changing, elaborating, or diversifying elements in a composition. Different forms and types.
Volume A three-dimensional area of defined or occupied space.