Illustration Dictionary – a free online resource

The illustration dictionary is a free resource tool of the top words and meanings that I’ve encountered as a professional illustrator. This glossary was built as a database that I could revisit to refresh my memory on the words that I’ve studied throughout my career, in addition, it could also be an index that would continue to evolve as my education continued to grow as well.

This dictionary is one of the many free art and design resources that I refer my customers to for speeding up their ‘learning curve’ on the meanings behind the vocabulary that will be used after hiring me as an artist for their project. But keep in mind, my website is not just for my illustration clients, they are meant to help everyone!




Airbrush: A device used to spray and spread a liquid, such as paint or ink, using compressed air. Photo editing/retouching and illustration often use this technique.

Animation: A series of image frames shown continuously in a sequence to simulate movement.

Art Director: Someone who is responsible for and/or manages those involved with the visual style of the elements of graphic art, including its selection, production, and implementation.


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C.M.Y.K.: Is a color mode used in digital imaging software and it is the ideal color model for printing designs on various surfaces and textures such as t-shirts, business cards, brochures, and other forms of print media. It is the opposite of RGB. Learn more about CMYK at the designer dictionary.

Cel Animation: a traditional animation technique where hand-drawn characters, scenes, and backgrounds. Cel, an abbreviation for celluloid, is a transparent sheet an animator would use to trace over the original paper artwork to create clean and crisp lines and colors which would then serve as the isolated frame to be animated. Celluloid process of animation was the dominant technique used before the advent of computer animation.

Cool Colors: Colors, such as shades of blue, green and gray, are all examples of ‘cool’ colors, or colors associated with calmness and cold temperatures. Increasing the blue tones in images can make a picture appear cooler.

Cascading Style-Sheets (CSS): A coding language used to describe how HTML elements will display on a website. Using one CSS stylesheet the user can control the layout of numerous web pages. (Handled)

Color Palette: The set of colors or swatches that an artist has prepared for use in their painting.