The Ultimate Art Terms: A Guide For Newbies In Art

A man looking at paintings

It's not easy to understand terms used in art, especially for those new to it. From oil painting to acrylic painting, there is so much information that can be difficult to process at times. This article will discuss the ultimate art terms you need to know to understand your art tutorial classes. We arranged them in general and special terms by the medium.

General Art Terms


Abstract art, also known as non-objective or non-representational art, does not represent something but can represent anything since the audience can interpret it in whatever manner he likes. Artists may do lines, shapes, and colors.

Ambient light

Ambient light is the type of illumination that's already present in a scene. It may be natural or artificial light, something you don't need to set up, and is generally the main lighting source in a room.


The balance of elements in a piece of art creates a sense of visual harmony. Artists often describe balance as being symmetrical or asymmetrical.


Blending is a painting technique that creates a stimulating effect when transitioning from one color or shade. Use the correct type of blender brush to blend correctly.

Blocking In

Blocking-in is one of the painting techniques that artists use to establish their composition and structure roughly. This technique is best for portraits but you can also apply it to other types of artwork like landscapes or still life paintings.

Blocking-in is a popular and straightforward technique of underpainting that allows an artist to roughly sketch out the piece with simple "blocks," or hues, of color.


The brushwork is the distinctive mark of a round brush on the canvas, paper, board, etc. You can apply it with different paintbrushes to change its size and shape. The thickness of the stroke depends on how much pressure you apply when painting.

An artist uses his brushstrokes like a stamp as a way to identify himself.


There are several kinds of canvases that artists use for painting. It uses closely woven cloth, usually stretched over wooden bars. Depending on your preference and budget, it may use cotton or linen fabric.


A collage is a mixed media art technique where you glue several art pieces together on another surface to make an interesting art form.

Complementary colors

Complementary colors are opposite colors on the color wheel that become black or gray when mixed. Examples of complementary colors are red and green and orange and blue.


Composition is putting together the visual elements of a piece of art. For example, you may arrange the objects on a still-life painting in a way that some objects are to the front to put them into focus while others are to the back.


Composite art looks like a collage, composed of different styles (abstract + realism) in a single painting or photograph. You may also do this art form digitally, using the usual software tools.


Depth has always been an important element in the art that tells of the distance that painters, photographers, and sculptors use to create depth within their work.

En plein air

En plein air simply means outdoors or in the open air. It is a technique to capture the true image of a scene as observed at any given moment. As the light changes, so do the values of the scene that you want to paint.

Focal point

The focal point is usually the largest area on a painting or photo that captures the viewer's attention, usually where the greatest contrast is on the painting. The focal point doesn't have to be in the center of the painting. Artists use it sometimes to hide a flaw in the painting that only art critics can see.


The foreground is the element closest to the observer in terms of depth. These are the elements you can see above the middle ground and the background.


Artists use foreshortening as a technique in perspective drawings to create an illusion of receding into the background to suggest depth and distance.


Gouache is an opaque water-based paint that easily dries when applied on paper or canvas. It is water-soluble even after it dries, unlike acrylics that dry to be water-resistant.


Hue is the technical term used to describe the true color of something. For example, the color red is called a hue.


Art is a wonderful tool for tricking the eye. Artists create optical illusions which cause the audience to see a different result from the actual painting.


A landscape is a piece of art that focuses on natural scenery such as mountains, forests, and coasts. Landscapes may include scenes from rural areas and other natural settings.

Middle ground

The middle ground contains the central elements of the painting, found between the foreground and the background. Most focal points of the painting are on the middle ground. The elements that lie within this space are included in the painting to create depth on its own without foreshortening or diminishing size principles.

Negative space

The space that separates objects in an artwork is the negative space. Artists use negative space to define the subject in the painting.


Drawings are essential to understanding the three dimensions that shape and sculpt objects. The right drawings can make the difference between looking at something flat or 3D.

Artists use various media, including pencils with varying degrees of pressure, to create dimension. Adjusting the values on your painting or drawings also achieves a dimensional look.


The pigment gives the paint or pastel color, making it an important component. The quality of the pigment determines the safety and quality of the paint, as some pigments have toxic components.


A plane is a two-dimensional surface. Artists use perspective to create the illusion of depth on a flat canvas or paper.


People is one of the oldest subjects that artists take on to put a person's face into posterity. It captures a person's face to display the likeness, personality, and expression of a person.


Proportion in art is an important characteristic of an art piece. By exaggerating proportions, you can emphasize the meaning of an element of the painting. For example, caricatures usually have larger heads.


Realism in the arts is generally a realistic portrayal of the subject matter without artificiality, avoiding any form of fantasy. It is also the hardest to master and the most repressive for someone looking for freedom in the arts.


Scale is the size of an object in comparison to other objects. Some artworks are also displayed in different sizes, depending on how you look at them. For example, paintings seem huge when viewed from afar but smaller when observed closely.


Sgraffito is a technique used on oil pastels, acrylics, and oils. Each medium has a different method of using this technique, but the concept remains the same - scratching over a painting or drawing to create textures and designs.


In arts, shade is a hue added with dark colors like black or brown to darken the color. For example, maroon, scarlet, crimson, magenta, and burgundy are shades of red.

Shade can also mean applying shadows to drawings using different techniques.


Still-life is a painting of man-made or natural things to show the contrast of shapes, colors, and textures.


The subject of a painting or drawing is the main focus or idea that the artist wants to portray. It can be a person, place, thing, or event.


Surrealism is an art movement that started in the 1920s. The artists aimed to express their subconscious thoughts and feelings through their artwork.


A tint is a color lightened by adding white. Light coral, pink, blush, and poppy are fancy names of shades of red.


Value is how light or dark an object appears, and it's one of the most important elements in creating dimensionality. A black value drawing with white highlights contrasts more than a grayscale drawing. The lighter the color, the higher the value. The darker the color, the lower the value.

Vantage point

A vantage point is the perspective of an artwork determined by where you stand or sit while looking at a piece. The vantage point gives viewers insight into how to interpret artworks.

Vanishing point

The vanishing point in paintings forms part of a linear perspective scheme. It is the point at which all receding parallel lines meet, and it provides viewers with an accurate sense of how far away they are standing from the painting's subject matter.


When applied to arts, whimsical may mean fanciful and amusing. Artists usually use this style for children's books, like adding a face to the sun or a beard on a fish.  

Acrylic Painting Art Terms

Acrylic and gouache painting supplies

Acrylic is a water-soluble paint that gives opaque coverage and dries quicker than watercolors. It is one of the most popular mediums among artists because it is affordable, low maintenance, and less toxic. You can use acrylics for a lot of projects including painting on bottles, wine glasses, and other glass painting projects.

Flow medium

The flow medium increases the flow consistency of acrylic paint without affecting the paint film, instead of adding more water to the acrylic paint to flow easily and let it soak through the canvas.


The gel adds texture or extends your acrylic paints without changing the hues of your paint. You can choose from regular matte, regular gloss, extra-heavy, semi-gloss, soft, and self-leveling clear gel.

Glazing liquid

Glazing liquid is a medium you use to lengthen the paint's working time and blending qualities.

Interference paint

Interference paint or pearlescent paint contains mica flakes with titanium dioxide without mixing it with other pigments. When applied to a white paper, these paints are transparent but show the color when applied to black paper. You may mix black paint to it to get a deeper color.

Limited palette

Limited palette refers to working with a restricted number of colors instead of a full palette. For example, instead of working with 20 colors, you only work with 4 or 5. Working on a limited palette improves your color-mixing skills and saves you money on art supplies.

Open time

Open time means the time you can work on the paint until it gets too hard to work with it.

Pigment load

Pigment load refers to the strength of a pigment. The phrase also describes the amount of pigment in the paint compared to the amount, binder, or other additives. Artist-quality paints have a stronger pigment load.


Retarder is a medium you use on your acrylic paints that slows down the chemical reaction, so the acrylic paint dries slower than its drying time. However, limit the retarder to 15% to avoid stickiness on the paint.

Tinting strength

Tinting strength measures the amount of white paint you need to alter its color. Some colors have a high tinting strength and need only a small amount of paint. Therefore, you should add a small number of tinting colors when tinting whites until you get the tint you want.


In acrylics, the liquid part of the paint carries the binder and the pigment. Water in water-based acrylics combines with the binder to make a proper emulsion.

Oil Painting Art Terms

Oil paints and paintbrush

Oil painting is a common medium for Renaissance art, however, many contemporary artists are into it for conceptual art, figurative art, and modern art. Here are a few terms you should familiarize yourself with before working with oil paints.

Alkyd mediums

Alkyd mediums are synthetic resins you add to oil paints to make your oil paints dry faster. Examples of alkyd mediums are Galkyd or liquin.

Alla prima

Also known as the wet-on-wet painting technique, alla prima means "at the first." This technique usually does not require underpainting, so you can paint it in one sitting.


The bloom effect is a fascinating, sometimes subtle, and beautiful phenomenon when paintings are in damp conditions. It can lead to an increased dulling or opaque white coloration on the surface of your artwork over time, which may be what you're looking for if it's something different than just painting.


Campitura is an even, opaque color that artists apply to the canvas with a mixture of colored pigment and white gesso primer. It creates a gorgeous tinted ground for your work.


Chiaroscuro means 'light-dark' in Italian, which describes a dramatic contrast between light and dark in drawings and paintings. Artists use this technique to create the illusion of depth.


Copal is a natural resin that Flemish masters used back in the day. It improves the flow of paint and is an excellent drying medium. It also improves the brilliance and depth of oil paints, making the paint look wet even when they're dry.

The good thing about copal is its resistance to solvents, so you can clean your oil paintings without fear of lifting the varnish. However, add only a small amount of copal on your oil paints as it may cause yellowing.


Couche, literally "laying down a couch," is applying thin glazes over your paint while the medium is still wet. This technique lets the oil saturate the old paint layer, so the colors match perfectly.


Craquelure is a term art restorers use to describe the surface of an oil painting with hairline cracks caused by the movement of the oil paints, especially when varnished before it is fully dry.


Crazing is common with vintage finishes, particularly when the varnish dries unevenly, forming a film that eventually cracks.

Dead coloring

Dead coloring is underpainting using oil paint mixed with OMS or turpentine to hasten the drying process, thus leaving a matte finish. With this technique, you can set the tonal values on your canvas using a thin application. 

Dry brush

Dry brushing is a technique where you scrub the painting using a brush with little to no moisture. The effect is a broken color, where the colors underneath show from the brushing motion. 

Drying oils

Drying oils dry or oxidize into a solid but elastic surface. Linseed dries the drying oils fastest, and poppy oil dries the longest. Olive oil and almond oil are non-drying oils and you should not use them for oil painting. 

Drying time

Drying time is the amount of time needed for an oil painting to harden. Some artists use alkyd medium to hasten the drying time, usually used for the lower layers so you can paint the top layers without ruining the paint under it. 

Fat over lean

If you're painting in layers, it is important to follow the fat over lean method, in which you paint with less oil for the lower layers and more oil for the upper layers. 


A film is the thin layer of paint or varnish that forms over a painting once it's hardened. The amount and quality of binder in the paint cause the film to form nicely or poorly.

Flat color

Flat color is paint applied to your canvas without having graduations or changes in values. 

Fugitive pigment

Fugitive pigment refers to the pigment that fades or changes under various environmental factors. Pigments are usually classified to the degree of permanence: AA for extremely permanent, A for permanent, B for moderately permanent, and C for fugitive. 


Gesso is a mixture of glue and chalk that painters apply to canvas to improve the absorbency of the canvas, so oils respond better to it. To learn more about applying gesso, refer to this article.

Glass muller

The glass muller is a slightly textured and curved surface that artists use when grinding paint. The slight roughness of the surface helps in mixing the dry pigment and the medium.


The glaze is a transparent paint that you can apply over dried paint to improve the appearance of the surface of the painting. 


The gloss of paint or varnish is what makes it looks shiny. Some paints have a glossy finish, while others have a matte or satiny finish.

Grinding colors

For example, mixing dry pigments with medium, like egg tempera, is a technique known as grinding colors. Artists use palette knives to grind colors on a marble slab or a glass muller until they get a perfect consistency for their paint.


Grisaille is a black and white painting technique you use for underpainting your oils. However, you can use this technique for the painting itself, especially if you're looking for a monochromatic effect. One of the most famous grisaille paintings is Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery (1565), an oil on panel painting by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.


The ground is the perfect surface for oil paintings. It improves the absorbency and adds texture to your canvas. Different mediums need different grounds. For example, acrylic gesso is flexible and is best for acrylics and oil paintings since it prevents cracking. On the other hand, traditional gesso is non-flexible and is best for acrylics.

Watercolor ground and absorbent ground are best for preparing surfaces, including paper and canvas, for watercolor and acrylic painting. Oil painting ground does the opposite by removing absorbency on canvases to prevent sinking in of oil paints. However, you need to prime your canvases a few days using oil painting grounds since it dries very slowly.

Half paste

Half-paste is a semi-transparent coat of paint that allows the dry underpainting to see through, as if through a mist. To make the half-paste, mix white to paint to make it look semi-transparent.


Impasto is the texture created on a painted surface by heavy, imprecise brushstrokes. It means "mixture," wherein the brushstrokes or palette knife marks are visible. Artists use them to create textured highlights and details on your oil or acrylic paintings or oil pastel drawings.


This technique provides the initial stain for your canvas using transparent paint. It comes from the Italian word that means "first paint layer." You usually apply imprimatura to set the tone on your canvas. 


When a painting has suffered significant physical damage, it's often necessary for conservators to use this technique to restore the artist's original vision.

The inpainting process involves applying new paint over damaged areas only. Only restorers and conservators can do this process. Don't use it interchangeably with restoring, though, since these are different concepts in art.

Laying out

Before painting, artists lay out their colors on the palette, so they see what the colors look like beside each other, working with them as needed. Laying out also means planning the composition for your drawings.

Lean paint

Lean paint is a coat that contains less oil pigment in its ingredients than other paints. It reduces the gloss and drying time of the paint. You can make the paint leaner by adding more spike oil or turpentine.


Lightfastness is the stability of the pigment after prolonged exposure to light. It is important to know the lightfastness of a pigment to determine the longevity of your art. It comes in three classifications - excellent lightfastness (I), very good lightfastness (II), and fair lightfastness (III). 


Litharge is the powdered form of lead used in making black oil. Black oil is a fast-drying oil made by heating refined linseed oil with litharge. Most artists avoid black oil because it leaves a dirty look on your painting.

Natural varnish

Varnish in art protects the artwork from dust and grime, thus extending the lifetime of a painting. In oil paintings, the most common natural varnish comes from dammar, a resin from Indian and East Asian trees. Mastic is also a natural varnish derived from resin from the mastic tree. Dammar and mastic are natural soft varnishes as they usually dissolve in solvents.

On the other hand, natural hard varnish comes from copal and amber (both also come from tree resins). They need heating in oil to dissolve it. While they give an excellent gloss and enamel-like finish, artists don't recommend them for oil paintings as they may cause cracking, yellowing, and difficult restoration since you cannot reactivate them using solvents as with natural soft varnishes.

Oiling out

Oiling out is a retouching technique where the artist applies a thin coat of medium to restore the colors of the painting. However, if you're a newbie, don't attempt this technique. Otherwise, you'll end up ruining your painting instead of improving its appearance.

Paint body

The paint body describes the thickness or consistency of the paint. 

Painting knives

To distinguish painting knives from palette knives, palette knives have a straight body, usually used to mix oil paints, while painting knives have a slight curve to their body. Artists use these knives to apply texture to the painting. 


Priming is the process of applying gesso to the canvas or watercolor paper to increase its absorbency, texture, and color. Aside from gesso, you can also prime using grounds or rabbit skin glue.  


Retouching involves working over a painting to replace or restore any damage to a painting. Oiling out is a retouching technique, and so is painting over sunken-in areas in your oil paintings. If you're not 100% on the quality and effect of your oil painting, use retouch varnish instead of using final varnish to avoid issues.


Scumbling is a painting technique where the painter applies dry brush or cloth to remove the upper layer of paint to show what lies underneath. 


Sfumato is a painting technique that uses soft, gradual transitions between colors to create an illusion of three-dimensionality. Leonardo da Vinci and other renaissance painters popularized this technique to heighten the depth of a painting.

Sinking in

Sinking in is a term used by artists to describe a part of the painting where the canvas absorbed the oils, leaving that portion dull.


Sizing or sealing a canvas is one way of preparing it before painting by creating a barrier between the canvas and the oil paints to remove the absorbency of the canvas. The most common material used to size a canvas is heated rabbit skin glue, applied generously in layers to seal the canvas.

It is the opposite of priming since the primary purpose of priming is to increase the absorbency of the canvas.


The solvent is the general term used to refer to turpentine, odorless mineral spirits (OMS), mineral spirits, turpenoids, and citrus solvents. Each has its nuances and properties that artists love.

Of these solvents, citrus solvents, Gamsol oil, and spike oil are the most user-friendly because they don't have the fumes and odors like turpentine and mineral spirits. They cost more than the other solvents, making them the last choice among artists.

Mineral spirits have a similar characteristic to turpentine. However, mineral spirits are a derivative of petroleum, while turpentine is primarily a pine tree derivative. Odorless mineral spirits are not entirely odorless or free from volatile fumes. All the other solvents are also poisonous and fatal when ingested.


Turpentine is a natural derivative from coniferous trees that you can use to thin oil paints and varnishes. It has strong odors and volatile fumes, which can cause adverse effects like vomiting, chest pains, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, choking, and other respiratory distress.

Working outdoors or in a well-ventilated area is best when working with turpentine.


Underpainting is the process of painting a monochrome or tonal layer beneath the colors visible in the final work. It creates form, establishes relationships among values, and adds depth.

When underpainting, consider the tone of the main colors of your painting. Warm colors like red, orange, pink, and yellow need cool underpainting, so choose blue, green, or neutral gray. Conversely, cool colors like green and blue need warm underpainting, so use pinks or umbers.


Velatura is an Italian word that means glazing where the artists use opaque or semi-opaque colors on top of dried paint, resulting in a mix of scumble and glaze. Artists sometimes call this technique half-paste. The term is technically wrong, though, since velatura refers to the technique, while half-paste is the paint used to work on the technique.


Verdaccio is green underpainting most artists use to set a base for warm tones, such as pinks and reds. It balances the warmth of the tones over it and evens out the shadows of flesh tones for a more realistic look. 


Yellowing results from applying the wrong varnish, using an excessive amount of linseed oil medium, and having dirt accumulated under the varnish. 

Watercolor Painting Art Terms

Watercolor supplies

Check out these watercolor painting art terms to help you go along with your tutorials and paint your lovely watercolor art for the first time. 


A backrun is a partially controlled mixing of colors by adding a new color to a still-wet watercolor wash. Artists add them to create abstract objects to create visual interest.


Beading happens when so much surface tension causes the tiny beads on the palette. It prevents the pigments from blending thoroughly to get the colors.


Blotting-off is the process of using a paper towel or an absorbent rag to remove the excess watercolors. You also use this technique to remove some watercolor from the painting to give it some detail.


When you apply water to paper, the fibers bend and warp. You can avoid this by stretching your paper before painting on them. Stretching prevents the paper from getting curly when it dries.


Most cold-pressed paper is hand-made and has more texture than hot-pressed paper. It has a higher absorbency and an irregular surface, but newbie watercolor artists use it more than they do hot-pressed watercolor paper.

Drop-in color

Dropping-in colors is a painting technique where you dab the end of a paintbrush dipped in watercolors on a still-damp watercolor wash. This technique is best for creating cloud-like effects on your watercolors.


Frisket, also known as masking fluid or masking film, creates white space on the watercolor painting to protect the areas you don't want to add any color.

When using masking fluid, apply it with a brush, like you're painting on paper. It easily dries, so you can remove it later with an eraser after painting over it.

On the other hand, masking film has a low-tack adhesive that you can easily remove after. You have to cut it to shape, though,


Glazing is a painting technique that adds a diluted layer of transparent color to a finished area. It adds luminosity to the painting, thus improving the overall quality of the painting.


Artists add gradients to their watercolor paintings to transition from dark to light without leaving visible brushstrokes on their paintings. It is for adding the sky or the sea. For example, adding skies or seas. Depending on the effect you want, you may use a single color, monochrome, or analogous grading.


Some pigments tend to granulate because they have coarser grounds than other colors. Colors that granulate are Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Green, Cerulean Blue, Earth Green, Raw Sienna, Gold Ochre, and Oxide Black.

Because the pigments are heavier and coarser, they sink into the paper to create an uneven layer of paint. It does not leave the best result on your watercolor paintings, so stay away from it.

Gum arabic

You may use gum arabic as a sealant in watercolor painting by diluting it with water and applying it directly to paper. It also thickens the watercolors to increase the paint's viscosity and intensify the colors.


Hot-pressed is a term used to describe the process of making watercolor paper. The paper fibers are closer together, making it smoother and slower to absorb the watercolors due to the addition of heat to the pressing process. Professional watercolorists prefer this paper over cold-pressed paper.  


A crumpled plastic wrap pressed on still-wet watercolors creates textures on your watercolor paintings. This technique is called impressing and is best for adding irregular details to large areas of the painting.


Indenting is simply adding lines or patterns by scoring on the paper with a stylus or the blunt end of a watercolor brush to create textures.


Lifting softens edges and may diffuse or change colors, lowering their intensity while leaving only the base tones. You can use a slightly damp paintbrush to lift color with a strategic or detailed lift. A crumpled paper towel or cotton pad also lifts watercolors efficiently.

You can also use this technique for subtractive painting or remove colors from your painting.

Mass tone

Mass tone is undiluted paint or pigment and is usually called mass color. If working with new paints, it is best to familiarize yourself with the mass tone of the pigment since it usually changes when diluted with water. Most colors have a different undertone with the mass tone, but colors like Hunter green have the same mass tone and undertone, making it easier to identify the colors.


Overpainting achieves several effects on your watercolor painting. It cleans out muddied areas, creates highlights and white spaces, and improves the crisp edges of your paintings. You can use water-based opaque white paint such as Titanium White or Chinese White.

Ox gall

Ox gall is a fluid extracted from ox gallbladder added to watercolors to improve flow and absorbency. It also prevents beading on watercolor paper. 


Watercolor resist is a technique where the artist paints watercolor over wax crayons, oil pastels, or masking, creating interesting results on the watercolor painting. The wax resists the watercolor from staining the paper, thus creating a negative space.


Spattering is adding minute particles to a painting, such as adding stars to a night sky scene or snowflakes to a winter scene. However, it is harder than it looks, and you need better control before getting it right.

We recommend dipping the very tip of a short-bristle brush, then wiping it off a bit before adding the spatter.


Sizing reduces the absorbency of paper, so it sits well on paper instead of soaking into it. It also helps to protect the surface of the paper and reduces buckling. You can size the paper by applying hide glue, gelatin, or acrylic polymer.

Sizing and priming are different techniques. It is best to know when to size and prime, especially when working with watercolors.


Staining is a watercolor characteristic that allows it to bond with the paper. A watercolor that stains well is harder to lift off the paper, making it more permanent.


Stippling is a technique where you make a series of small dots to create texture in your painting. Stippling allows optical mixing to achieve a blending effect directly on paper by using different hues.


When working with watercolor paper, it is best to tape it to a rigid surface to prevent it from buckling. Taping the paper is also called stretching and is best for watercolor paper lighter than 300lb (640gsm) but is not necessary for synthetic paper or watercolor blocks. 


Underdrawing is the method artists make when adding a sketch of the image they want to paint. It makes blocking in the colors easier. However, be sure to erase the pencil drawing as it will be visible under the transparent watercolors.


Undertone is the color of the pigment after diluting it with water. You should consider the undertone when painting to get the real color on your watercolor paintings. For example, Phthalo Turquoise has an almost black mass tone but has a blue-green turquoise undertone.

Making a color swatch helps you understand the undertones of your watercolors. Don't forget to label them accordingly and use notations and labels.


Adding watercolor washes to watercolor paper or canvas lets you cover a large area without visible brushstrokes. A good mop or flat brush is the perfect choice of brush to use when adding washes.


Wet-on-wet is a painting technique that adds a new layer of paint without waiting for the previous application to dry. This technique allows the paint to blend partially without sharp transitions.

White space

White space is crucial in a dark, dramatic painting because it prevents your painting from looking muddy and heavy. To make the white spaces, you can mask a portion of your painting or use opaque white to create white spaces on your painting.

Drawing Art Terms

A drawing of concentric circles

Here are a few drawing art terms to familiarize yourself so you understand your online drawing classes.


Cross-hatching is making cross marks with a pencil and other drawing supplies to create tonal effects. The closer the hatch marks are, the darker the tones are in your drawings.


A doodle is fun but random illustration without regard for realism. Artists usually use them to relax because it does not need much planning, just a theme.

Figure drawing

Understanding the human figure and mastering it is the goal of figure drawing. It will help the artist make better depictions of the human body, especially if you're doing realist art. Pro tip: It is best to work on your figure drawings on an easel instead of a flat surface.


An easier way to get the texture on your drawings is through frottage. It is a technique where you rub a pencil or chalk over paper on a raised surface, like a leaf or a coin, for a relief-like texture and likeness.

Gesture drawing

Gesture drawing is related to figure drawing. However, it is more concerned about the subject's movements, action, form, and posse. They are rough drawings that only take a short time to make, mostly done for practice. You need to master gesture painting to master your portrait, sculpture, and allegorical painting.

Line drawing

A line drawing has two functions - to outline your art or make the art independently. Line drawing is a traditional art that artists now turn into contemporary art.


Pastels come in three forms - oil, soft, and chalk. Each form has components that make it different from one another, but what stands out are the pigments and binders used. Though pastels may have toxic ingredients, you’ll love drawing and blending with oil pastels.


A sketch is a drawing or painting, especially done quickly and without much detail. Artists usually use this to underdraw your watercolors or underpaint your acrylics and oils.


The terms we’ve gone over in this article are the most useful and common ones you need to know when studying art. There is so much information available from oil painting to acrylic painting that it can sometimes be challenging to understand the painting proces. We hope these ultimate art terms will help make your next online painting class a little easier.

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