Design Descriptive Words & Terminology

Helpful words to describe your design project

If you are asked to describe the design project you want us to develop for you, and you are having a difficult time coming up with a descriptive word, use the handy lists below. It can help convey many of the design elements graphic artists work in every day.

Other Helpful Design References:

Chart of Descriptive Design Words and Terms:

LINE

actual

blurred

broken

contour

controlled

curved

diagonal

freehand

fuzzy

horizontal

implied

interrupted

meandering

patterned

ruled

short

straight

thick

thin

vertical

wide

TEXTURE

actual

bumpy

corrugated

flat

furry

gooey

leathery

prickly

rough

sandy

shiny

simulated

smooth

soft

sticky

tacky

velvety

wet

SHAPE/FORM

amorphous

closed

distorted

flat

free

form

geometric

heavy

isomorphic

light

linear

massive

nebulous

open

organic

COLOR

brash

bright

calm

clear

complementary

contrasting

cool

dull

dusty

exciting

garish

grayed

monochromatic

multicolored

muted

pale

polychromatic

primary

saturated

secondary

subdued

tertiary

tinted

triad

vibrant

warm

VALUE

dark

light

medium

opaque

transparent (what percentage?)

SPACE

ambiguous

background

closed

deep

flat

foreground

middleground

open

positive/negative

shallow

three dimensional

two dimensional

 

Chart of Descriptive Words to Use in a Formal Analysis of Art

The following words might help too. They are also great to review prior to going to an art museum - you really know your art!

ELEMENTS OF ART
Line
blurred
broken
controlled
curved
diagonal
freehand
horizontal
interrupted
geometric
meandering
ruled 
short
straight
thick
thin
vertical
wide

PRINCIPLES OF ART
balance
contrast
emphasis 
harmony 
pattern 
repetition 
rhythm 
unity 
variety 

 

THEMES IN ART
adoration
children 
circus 
cityscape
earth, air, fire, water 
farming festivals 
gardens 
grief
history 
hunting 
landscape
love
music
mythology
of historic occasions
portraiture
processions
religion
seascape
storytelling
theater
war

STYLE OR PERIOD
abstract
classical
genre
historical 
literary
naïve
narrative
nonobjective
primitive
realistic
romantic
Renaissance
Pop
Op
Modern
Abstract Expression

MEDIA (MATERIALS)
Two-Dimensional
chalk
colored pencil
conte
egg tempera
found materials
gouache
ink
oil
pastel
pencil
photograph
print
tempera
vine charcoal
watercolor

 

THREE-DIMENSIONAL
bronze
clay
fibers
found materials
marble
metal
mixed media
papier-mâché
plaster
stone
wood

TECHNIQUE
architecture 
batik
carving
ceramics
collage
crafts
glassblowing
jewelry making
metalwork
modeling
mosaics
painting
photography
printmaking
repousse
sculpture
weaving