Art 100


Refers to the relative degree of lightness and darkness of a particular hue creating various shades, tones, and tints


The portion of an object that, from the observer's position, receives the greatest amount of direct light


The darker value on the surface of an object that gives the illusion that a portion of it is turned away from or obscured by the source of light.

Plastic value

The creation of the illusion of roundness, volume or three-dimensional space through the use of highlight and shadow, a.k.a Modeling.

Value Contrast

Refers to the relative degree of difference between shades of gray.

Value Pattern

The Arrangement or Organization of values that control compositional movement and create a unifying effect by representing a specific, directional light source creating consistent highlights and shadows throughout the composition.


Literally meaning "light, dark" in painting or drawing. The gradual shifting from light to dark through successive gradations of tones creating the illusion of curved, rounded, volumetric shapes. The technique of modeling shape without relying on linear d

Closed-value Composition

Values that are limited by edges or boundaries of positive, compositional elements resulting in clearly defined and separable shapes.

Open-value Composition

Values that cross over shape boundaries into adjoining positive elements and/or negative areas resulting in the integration of shapes with negative space and unifying the composition.


Meaning "Evaporated or vanished into smoke", the technique in which the rendering of shape by means of subtle tonal gradations so as to eliminate any sharply defined contours producing a delicate transition from light to shadow, resulting in a misty, drea

Achromatic Value

Relating to the differences of light and dark without regard for hue and intensity. An image consisting of white, black, and the limitless degrees of gray pigments.


Also known as "The Dark Manner", a value technique that exaggerates and dramatically emphasizes the effects of highlight and shadow, creating an abrupt, contrasting transitions between illumination and darkness. The theatrical use of illumination designed

Local Value

The relative lightness and darkness of an image or surface as seen in the objective world that is independent of Theatrical/controlled/artificial lighting effects.

Decorative Value

Value that stresses the essential flatness of an image and/or surface, denying the illusion of volume or roundness.

Cast Shadow

A type of shadow that is created when a directional, light source is blocked by an object resting on and/or against a surface resulting in that object producing a projected shadow on the opposite side from the source of illumination. The dark area that oc


Meaning "Evaporated or vanished into smoke", the technique in which the rendering of shape by means of subtle tonal gradations so as to eliminate any sharply defined contours producing a delicate transition from light to shadow, resulting in a misty, drea


An area within a composition that has defined boundaries (positive shapes) that separates it from its surroundings (negative space).

Plastic Shape

Any shape (form) that creates the illusion of three-dimensional shape within a two-dimensional composition (implied mass). Any shape (form) that has physical dimension occupying real space, such as architecture and sculpture.

Actual Mass

The amount of force it would require to move a given object. An object characterized as being compact, dense, weighty, and having measurable or illusionary bulk and solidity. The physical mass of an object as determined by its weight.

Implied Mass

The illusion of a three-dimensional shape/object within a two-dimensional plane. Graphic works of art that possess the illusion that its positive elements having mass, thus creating illusionary of weight of object and depth of space. The apparent mass of


The amount of space that a substance or object occupies, or that is enclosed within a container

Geometric Shape

A regular, uniformed shape comprised of precise straight and/or curved lines. Mathematical in conception, having clearly defined and measurable rectilinear and curvilinear structure as related to the shapes associated with geometry

Organic Shape

Any shape that resembles or suggests a living organism. A shape that is irregular, fluid, gestural in its physical character. A shape that is influenced by or derived from nature

Positive Shape/Space

Prominent images, objects, figures and/or shapes that command visual interest and defines the concrete elements within a composition. The main objects and/or figures depicted in a composition that defines its subject and, subsequently, gives the artwork i

Negative Shape

The area surrounding defined objects and/or figures within a composition. The space that is empty or filled with imagery that is secondary to the main objects and/or figures depicted in a composition. The unoccupied or empty space in a composition that su

Amorphous shape

A shape without clear definition or defined boarders. A shape that is formless, indistinct, and of arbitrary or uncertain dimensions. A shape that is not defined by interconnecting contour lines or distinct areas of color, i.e., cloud or blob

Biomorphic Shape

An irregular shape that resembles the freely developed curves found in nature. A shape that suggests biological forms without having objective organic recognition or identity. A non-specified organic form reminiscent of nature.

Anthropomorphic Shape

Relating or attributed to human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to nonhuman, inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena. Ascribing human form or attributes to a thing, natural phenomena, or being that is not human, i.e. deity.

Rectilinear Shape

Created by intersecting straight lines. A shape whose boundaries consist of straight lines creating angles at points of intersection.

Curvilinear Shape:

Created by the connection or intersection of a series of uniformed arcs.


An image of a person, an object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, against a light background resulting in its edges matching the outline of the subject and having no interior details or features.

Decorative Space/Shape:

Ornamenting or enriching, but more importantly in art, stressing the two-dimensional nature of the artwork or any of its elements, emphasizing flatness of a picture plane or surface.

Figure-Ground Relationship

The relationship between a part or parts of a composition that are seen as the concrete elements or positive shapes, defining the primary subject or figure, juxtapose with the space that surrounds these elements defining the ground, background, or negativ

Figure-Ground Reversals

According to Gestalt Psychologists, we tend to perceive things/images in context. If areas of positive shape and negative space are ambiguous, there is a shift in the viewer's perception of compositional elements that reads as figurative shape one moment

Figure-Ground Equivalents

Figure-ground relationships that give both negative space and positive compositional elements shared visual weight and emphasis, creating ambiguity between primary subject and ancillary imagery and spatial elements.


A German word for "form"; an organized whole in experience. Around 1912, the Gestalt psychologists promoted the theory that explains psychological phenomena by their relationships to total forms, or Gestalten, rather than their parts. The mental relations


Meaning "Pictures of the Floating World", is an artistic style that flourished in Japan from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as genre scenes, female beauties, Kabuki Dancers, Sumo W

Graphic Arts

Visual arts based on and limited to all of the two-dimensional arts, including painting, drawing, printmaking, computer arts, and specific artisan crafts, such as, stained glass, batik, textile and fiber weaving, and mosaic construction.

Plastic Arts

Visual arts based on and limited to all of the Three-dimensional arts, including sculpture, architecture, and specific artisan grafts, such as, pottery, glass blowing, basket weaving, and jewelry making.


An image or symbol that has immediate and universal recognition and associations. A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. A painting of Jesus Christ or another holy figure, typically painted on wood panels and used as sacred ob


The study of the images, symbols, or modes of representation collectively associated with a person, cult, mythology, or aesthetic movement in the visual arts that lend artworks their underlying meaning. Semiotics: The study of signs and symbols and their


Theoretically, an extended dot. The fundamental element explored in a variety of visual arts. A continuous mark that may be used to define the outline or interior physical characteristics of a shape or object, without the inclusion of tonal modeling grada

Line Quality

The physical, expressive characteristics of a line, and the resulting emotional and intellectual response to line by the viewer.

Geometric Line

Line that is precise, measurable, and mathematically driven, devoid of the emotional human element. Associated with Minimalism, lines that are acutely structured and systematically, methodical in execution and quality.

Organic Line

Line that has a sense of fluidity and free from constraint. Gestural and loose in nature; lines that expand and contract, and move forward and recede in space. Inherently expressive, they can be delicate, tentative, elegant, assertive, dynamic, and even b

Actual Line

Lines that physically appear within a composition

Contour Line

The line that defines the EDGES of an object or shape. A line that defines the "outline" of an object or shape.

Cross-contour Line (Contour Hatching)

A line that defines the surface undulations between, or up to, the outermost edges of shapes or objects. Generally, a series of non-intersecting lines that define the interior nature of the surfaces contained within the edges of an object or shape, i.e. t

Implied Lines (Subjective Lines)

Lines that are completed by the viewer. A discontinuous line that the viewer reads as continuous because of the overall context of the images. Lines that fade, stop, and/or disappear when used to visually define an object or shape. The missing portion of

Psychological Line/Compositional Line:

Suggested directional lines that create a mental, emotional or perceptual connection through glances and gestures of figures within the composition.


The creation of the illusion of roundness or three-dimension through the use of light and shadow


A series of lines that run in different directions and cross over one another producing a modeling effect without tonal gradation.


is a design unit that is repeated with such frequency in a composition as to make it a significant or dominant feature. A distinct or separable element in the design of an artwork or architectural structure that creates visual and/or conceptual unity thro


The creation of a pattern or arrangement simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading achieved by using small dots in various densities of application. Areas where the dots are thicker are darker and create the illusion of being more shaded.


Using a series of closely spaced parallel lines to suggest value (Light and Shadow). Areas in which lines are closer together appear to be more shaded.