Artist's Resources∼Artist's Dictionary S

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O |P |Q |R |S |T |U |V |W |X |Y |Z


Sable/red sable brush   A brush made of kolinsky, which is a semiaquatic Siberian mink; the hairs hold their shape well and cling together when wet; the brush has good "spring" and comes to a fine point.
Sabeline brush   A dyed ox-hair brush designed to serve as a substitute for sable; useful, relatively inexpensive, used mainly with watercolor-based paints.
Safflower   Pigment; a red lake, fugitive and now obsolete.
S.A.G.A.   Society of American Graphic Artists.
Saibokuga   (Japanese) An ink painting using the traditional black with color.
Salamander   A restorative used on oil paintings.
Salon   1.   Public exhibition of Art in France. 2.   A regular, social/philosophical meeting of Artists, usually in the house of a patron.
Salt aquatint   Aquatint made by sprinkling salt on a hot, already grounded plate to create a different texture.
Sandaraca   A varnish resin, term originally used indiscriminatly for orpiment, realgar, cinnabar, lead oxide yellow and the red earths.
Sandboard   A fine or rough sand surface product used mainly to sharpen pencils and pastels.
Sandcasting   1.   A method of laying mosaics. 2.   A mold for a casting made with molten metal.
Sand ground   1.   An aquatint ground preparation whereby sandpaper is placed face down on a printing plate which has a resist surface, then both are run through the press to produce a texture in the ground. 2.   Sand sprinkled on wet oil or acrylic as a texture. 3.   Sandpaper glued to a support for direct painting or pastel rendition.
Sand painting   (American Indian) 1.  A picture composed on the ground with colored sands, usually for a ritual purpose, such as a marrigae or a healing. 2.   A fascimile of the same on canvas or panel.
Sandpaper aquatint   See Sand ground.
Sanguine   A reddish crayon long used for drawing and toning; often referred to as a conte crayon, from the French manufacturer's name.
Sans serif   Having no serifs, as in Gothic font and typeface. See Serifs
San sui   (Chinese/Japanese) Mountain and water, meaning a landscape.
Saral paper   Trade name of a transfer paper that produces a grease-free line, easily erased.
SASE   Self Addressed Stamped Envelope; enclosed in a mailing to assure the material submitted will be returned to the sender.
Satin finish   A moderately shiny finish, not as luminous as a gloss finish.
Satyr   In design, a woodland god with ears, legs and horns of a goat.
Scale   1.   The dimensions of an Art Work relative to those of the original. 2.   To enlarge or reduce (scale-up or scale-down) Art Work or photographs for reproduction without changing the original proportions. If you don't know how to do scales and would like to learn, see Ginos' November 2005' Utilities page, "How to do scale renderings".
Scaleograph  An instrument used to scale photographs and illustrations.
Scamp   A basic rough or sketch.
Scan   1.   To check or quickly study something. 2.   A computer method of making color seperations to be used in printing.
Schrottblatt   See CriblĂ©e.
Scintilla   See Fiberglass paper.
Score   1.  To mark or lightly cut a line, not cutting all the way through. 2.   In printing, a term meaning a blank impression on the inside fold of a signature, made with a blank hard tool, to locate the fold and prevent surface damage to certain heavy stocks.
Scotchstone   A fine abrasive used to wear away a surface.
Scraping down   A technique for oils and acrylics in which a palette knife is drawn across the wet paint, pressing the paint into the canvas and at the same time softening the hard edges; on dry paint, a slightly different effect is accomplished.
Scratchboard  An ink drawing method using a cardboard sheet that is coated with a clay finish and covered with drawing ink; special cutting tools are used to scratch in the drawing, which resembles wood engraving; makes excellent reproductions.
Scratchboard tools   Small knives about the size of pen tips are used as cutting or scratching tools, some with multiple points for drawing several parallel lines at once, as for crosshatching.
Scratch board foam   A foam-coated board on which a drawing is pressed or scratched, which then can be used as a printing plate with either oil or water based printing inks.
Screen   1.   In textile design, a color seperation device; for instance, in 3 color separations on white; screen #1 is the white and screen #2, 3, and 4 are each the seperate colors. 2.   Various textured adhesive backed shading sheets used in design, usually from Art to be reproduced.
Screen opener   For silk screen, a spray used to open a screen that has dried ink.
Screen printing (hand & machine)   In textile design, hand screen printing is known as silk screen; machine screen printing is about the same process, but performed mechanically. See also Silk screen.
Scriber   A pointed tool for marking wood, metal and other surfaces.
Scribing, or "to scribe"   The laying of two flat materials on top of one another, then cutting through both pieces at once.
Scrim   1.  In intaglio, a heavy, coarse cloth used to wipe the plate. 2.   In the Art of Rug building, scrim is a thin but durable tape-like cloth that is pourous, used to lay over and press into cellulose glues that are at the seams of two carpet pieces ready to be bonded together.
Scrimshaw   An early American folk Art originated by the sailors on long voyages, using the whale's teeth and bones or walrus tusk to carve trinkets, often with intricate design.
Script brush   A brush with extra long red sable hairs that come to a fine point, used for script lettering, scroll work in design, and for fine details.
Scrive  A hollow burin with a "V" shape, used in sculpture.
Scroll   (Japanese) See Makimono, Kakemono.
Scrubbing   A means of applying paint with a brush in a scrubbing motion.
Scruffing   1.   Drawing or blocking in a quick, loose drawing. 2.   Roughin up a surface area in a painting, usually with brush strokes. 3.   Dry brushing color over a rough surface, allowing the underneath color to show through.
Sculpmetal   Trade name for a product formed like clay and hardens into metal; also can be applied to a pre-shaped armature, can be carved, filed and sanded, then brushed to an aluminum patina.
Sculpey   Trade name of a synthetic plastic-like clay, available in white and many other colors, will not dry until baked.
Sculpture   The Art of making 3-D or relief carving and modeling. See Ginos' Sculpture page for some examples.
Sculpture in the round   Free-standing sculpture, completed on all sides.
Scum   In lithography, the grease on nonimage areas of the stone or plate; a film of ink printing where it should not print.
Scumble   To lay a light, semitransparent color on a surface already painted with another color, to unify or soften the area abd create a textural quality; usually accomplished with a dry brush or with a rag or finger.
S curve   Design in the shape of an "S".
Seal   (Oriental) A stamp on an Art Work of the Artists' given name, a family name, the name of his home or household, the date of his birth, a poetic phrase, or a pictorial symbol; also a collector may stamp his seal on the Artwork, sometimes called a "Chopmark".
Search lines   See Pentimenti
Secco   (Italian, "dry") A mural painting procedure using colors ground in a binder such as casein, and applied to dried lime plaster; less permanent than fresco, which is applied to wet plaster.
Secondary colors   Orange, green, violet, made from mixing the primaries; red, blue and yellow.
Section d'or   (French, "golden mean, golden section") See Golden mean/golden section.
Semi-abstract Art   Art that depicts a subject in a stylized or partially abstract manner.
Sequence   In a cartoon, a series of panels that relate to each other, to tell a story or a series of events.
Serifs   The small cross lines or embellishments at the termination of the main stems of Roman letter forms. Example:Serifs are the tips, or points of each of these letters.
Seriography   See Silk screen.
Set-in   In wood carving, to outline the design with stop cuts prior to removing unwanted wood. See Stop cut.
Seraut, Georges   (1859-1891) A prominent French neoimpressionist who is considered the founder of pointillism; a manner of painting with small dots of pure color that are blended optically in the eyes of the viewer.
Sfumato   (Italian, "smoke") An imperceptible transition of gradual change in color or value.
Sgraffito   Decoration made by scratching through a layer to reveal a different color underneath; now applied to pottery, was a Renaissance procedure using stucco and stained glass.
Shading film   See Shading sheets just below.
Shading sheets   In commercial Art, transparent acetate sheets with an imprinted pattern or dots, used by overlaying whenever a tone or texture is desired.
Shaping claw   In stone carving, a chisel with teeth that produce serrated gouges, used in the early shaping stages of a sculpture.
Sharpening stone   A Carborundum stone used to sharpen cutting and carving tools.
Sheeting   A light cotton canvas used as a painting support.
Shifting planes   Images drawn or painted on several various planes other than what are observable from a single station point: Cubist Art is often based on shifting planes.
Short ink   Buttery thick ink that does not flow well.
Show cards   Indoor posters for temporary announcements.
Shuan kou   (Chinese, "Double outline") See Kou le.
Siberian charcoal   Compressed charcoal.
Siccative   See Drier.
Sighting   A means of seeing and mentally measuring the relationships of angles, shapes and spaces, etc. and applying them to a drawing or painting.
Signature   1.   The Artists' name or intial(s) on the Art Work. 2.   In printing and binding, the grouping of pages according to the folding of the paper as it comes from the press; usually printing signatures consist of 16 or 32 pages.
Sign cloth   A specially primed cloth used for signs and display Art, available in sizes to 50" by 48 yards.
Sil   Pigment; ochre, an obsolete Roman name.
Silhouette paper   A smooth paper, dull black on one side and white on the other, used for making silhouettes.
Silicoil brush washer   A jar containing silicone with a wire coil at the bottom, to facilitate cleaning oil paint.
Silk screen   (Seriography) A stencil printing process where paint or ink is forched with a squeegee through a silk, organdy, or other screen onto the paper or textile below, the area not to be painted previously stopped out.
Silk screen frame   In the silk screen process, a wooden frame that has silk of other material stretched over it and is hinged for pulling proofs.
Silver leaf   Silver used like gold leaf in medieval paintings, tarnishes easily.
Silverpoint   A method od drawing with a silver point on a specially prepared paper, leaving a delicate gray line that becomes darker with age. See also Metal point.
Silverpoint tool   A tool that holds a rod of silver used to draw on silverpoint paper.
Silver white   Pigment, synonymous with flake white.
Simultaneous contrast   See Pointillism.
Simultaneous Submissions   Art Work, such as cartoons, submitted to more than one prospective buyer at a time.
Singeries   Designs of monkeys and apes.
Single stroke brush   See One-stroke brush.
Sinopia/sinope/sinoper   1.   The Roman name for red iron oxide. 2.   In fresco painting, a red ochre underpainting.
Sirens   Mythological sea nymphs whose singing lured mariners to destruction on the rocks of their islands; may appear in Artwork, especially fountain sculpture.
Size/sizing   A gelatinous substance used as a glaze or filler on canvas, panels and paper. See also Rabbitskin glue.
Sketching easel   See Easel. There you will find a complete list of all types of easels.
Skew   To twist on an oblique angle; to distort.
Sky brush   See Oval wash brush.
Slab   1.   A large, heavy piece of marble, porcelain, plate glass, wood, etc. for use as a carving/sculpting medium. 2.   A heavy piece of marble or plate glass used for grinding pigments.
Slant tiles   On a watercolor palette, color containers that are on a slight slant so the paint stays within its wells.
Slick stock   Paper with a fine, smooth finish.
Slipsheet   Blank sheets of paper used to seperate paper, tissue, photos, gold & other metal leaves, etc.
Slipsheet mounting method   Used when mounting paper, tissue, photos, etc. Use rubber cement on both papers to be mounted together. Let dry. Place a tracing paper over the base paper, leaving about 1" ov the cement visible at the top. Mount the top paper on the 1" of rubber cement, lining up all of the corners. Then slip the tracing paper out from the botto. Press the top paper down, working out any air bubbles.
Smock   A long, jacket-like covering worn to protect an Artists' clothing when working.
Smoking   In etching, the use of a candle to darken or smoke a hard ground on a plate.
Snake slip   An abrasive in stick form used to clean scraper marks off litho plates around the margins.
Soaking the paper   In watercolor, placing the paper in a tray or tub of water for a period of time as a preliminary step for the stretching or as a wash-off procedure.
Soapstone   In sculpture, a soft, easy to carve stone, available in a few different colors.
Socialist realism   A 20th century movement in painting dealing directly with social, political and economic issues, some 19th century painters, such as Daumier and Courbet, were forerunners of the movement.
Soft ground   An etching ground that is part tallow, is tacky and greasy.
Soft-ground etching   An etching technique using soft ground, producing a soft quality to the lines similar to a crayon effect; when a paper or textile is laid on the plate and a pencil or stylus is used to copy the design, various effects can be acheived by the ground adhering to the paper under the strokes and by the impression of the paper or textile on the ground.
Solder   A fusible alloy, such as tin and lead, used to join metal pieces together.
Solomon's seal   Two equivalent triangles overlapping; indicating the union of the body and soul; the star of David.
Solvent   A substance capable of dissolving another substance, as benzine, kerosene, turpentine, alcohol, etc.
Sotto in su   (Italian, "from below upwards") A realistic painting style of illustration used on ceilings of churches and public buildings, also called "Frog perspective".
Spatter   A painting technique in which a finger, brush or comb is used with a stiff brush (toothbrush) that has pigment on it, creating an uneven spotted pattern when tweaked. May also be acheived with an airbrush.
Spectrum   1.   A band of colors, as seen in a rainbow or through a prism. 2.  A broad range of colors.

Speedball pen   Trade name of a penholder and many different sized nibs, used for hand lettering and for drawing.
Speed lines   See Action lines.
Sphinx   From ancient Egypt, a stone image of a reclining lion with a human head.

Spire gothic   See Gothic type.
Spit bite   Saliva applied to a plate to define an area and keep the acid from running.
Spitsticker   See Elliptic graver.
Splay   The opening or spreading outward of a brush.
Spot design   A design used as a single motif.
Spotlight   A portable studio light used to light models, still life, etc. designed to concentrate a spot of light in a small area.
Spray gun   See Airbrush.
Spread   1.   A layout design that covers an entire page. 2. A two page spread that encompasses two facing pages.
Spring clamp   A device used to grip paper to a board or other surface, also called a "Spring".
Springwood   In woodcarving, the softer wood layers in the tree ring pattern; the growth during the spring season.
Squeegee   In silk screening, the tool used to force the ink or paint through the screen; usually consists of a rubber blade mounted in a wooden or plastic handle, similar to that used to wash windows.
S/S   (same size) In printing, a mark for the printer indicating the reproduction is to be the same size as the original.
Stabile   Sculpture that is stationary, does not move like a mobile.
Stabilizer   Ingredient in Artist's pigments to make them easy to brush and keep the oil from seperating.
Stand oil   See Linseed oil.
Static   Said of certain Art Work, meaning fixed, conservative, without aesthetic energy.
Station point   In perspective, the point of the Artists' eye at which sight lines begin in relation to the picture plane; the point at which the Artist views the scene in creating the picture.
Steel brush   A flexible brush (pen) used for lettering, made of steel.
Steel facing   In printing, an added steel layer deposited on the surface of a copper plate, allowing a greater number of prints to be pulled from the plate.
Stele   An upright pillar or slab of stone with a design and/or inscription.
Stencil   Any material that is cut out to mask certain areas and allow a coloring medium to be applied to the open areas.
Stencil brush   A round brush with short, square-cut bristles that is used for stencil work.
Stencil paper   A heavy, often oiled, paper that will withstand rough treament and can easily be cut with a clean edge.
Stencil printing   Making copies of a design from a stencil by silk screen or other stencil.
Stereotype   A metal printing plate cast from a papier mache matrix or mat that has been made from a page of metal type or font.
Stet   (Latin, "let it stand") A proofreaders mark meaning "do not change as marked", used on corrected work that has been counter-manded.
Still   In animated cartoons, a single cartoon as opposed to a series of cartoons making action; also, a "still" photo from a movie film.
Still life Inanimate objects such as flowers and fruis, arranged as a model for a composition to be painted, photographed, etc.; also the finished work is called a still life.
Stipple   A texture made up of tiny dots; to fleck or speckle an area of a painting usually with a contrasting color.
Stipple engraving   Using fine dots as part of an engraving.
Stock   The paper used for a printing, specified by the Production manager or Art director.
Stop-cut   In woodcarving, a vertical cut into a surface to outline and to prevent accidental splitting while removing excess wood.
St. Plate   A light-sensitive plate used in photolithography and photointaglio printing.
Strathmore Aquarius   See Fiberglass paper.
Stretched Canvas   Canvas that is fastened to stretcher strips and ready to prepare for a painting.
Stretcher pliers   A pincher-type tool with gripping jaws used to tighten and stretch canvas when fixing it to the stretcher strips.
Stretcher strips   The strips on which the canvas is stretched; commonly made of wood and available in a variety of lengths; the inter-changeable slotted ends make for easy assembly.
Strie   (French, "groove") In textile design, fabric that has a fine, irregular streak or stripe made by a slight variance in color of the warp.
Strike   In chip carving, to make stop cuts.
Strip-in   A piece of Art Work, film, font, or the like, which has been removed from one surface and taped into place on another; usually relates to the plate-making process in printing.
Strip frame   A narrow border frame made of strips of wood or metal attached to the edge of the canvas stretchers or another support; quick and inexpensive, available in a variety of sizes.
Striping tool   A tool that draws straight or curved lines in any color, has a glass fountain for poster paint, Japan colors, lacquer, etc.
Struck-off   Pulled or printed, said of an edition of prints.
Student grade   Grade of Artist's colors and other materials, not of the finest quality, but serviceable for most purposes.
Studio   A room or building in which the Artist works and keeps his equipment. See also Atelier.
Studio easel   See Easel. There you will find a complete listing and description of all types of easels.
Stump   A cigar shaped roll of heavy paper with a point on each end, used to refine pencil, charcoal, and pastel drawings.
Stylize   To modify natural forms and make a representation in a preset style or manner.
Stylus   1.   A pointed instrument used to work on scratchboard and other coated surfaces. 2.   A tool for engraving.
Subjective   Originating within the Artist, rather than a reporting of what is seen. (objective)
Subordinate element   Anything of lesser importance than the primary element in an Art Work.
Subtractive color mixing   Mixing colors in paint in such a way as to reduce the total light rays reflected. See Complementary colors.
Sugar bite   See Lift-gound etching.
Sugar paper   A British term referring to a plain wrapping paper sometimes used for drawing.
Suiboku   (Japanese) A traditional ink painting on silk or paper.
Suite   A group of original prints, usually related in subject matter, often used in portfolio form, with a colophon.
Sulphur tint   In intaglio, made by oil spread on a plate and sulphur dusted over it, creating a lightly bitten or washed-tone effect.
Sumi   Japanese brush painting with ink and/or watercolors.
Sumi-e   (Japanese, "black ink picture") A black ink picture.
Sumi ink   A mixture of carbon and glue pressed onto a block; pieces ground off are mixed with a little water to make "ink".
Summerwood   In wood carving, the hard wooded layers in the tree ring pattern; growth during summer and dry seasons.
Sunday Painter   A term applied to an amateur Artist who pursues painting for pleasure.
Supercalendering   A machine process that produces a glossy surface on paper.
Super realism   See Magic realism, Surrealism.
Support   1.   The foundation upon which a painting is made, such as "canvas, panel, metal, wood, etc." 2.   The "Backing" on which paper is mounted.
Suprematism   A Russian movement, founded by Kazimir Malevich about 1913, that was derived from Cubism, encompassed nonobjective, geometric forms, using simple color combinations such as white on white or vriations of black and white; had much effect on the following generation of Artists.
Surface paper   A frisk used for corrections on pen and ink and technical drawings; a scapel is used to scrape away unwanted areas, then the paper laid onto it and rolled or daubed.
Surface printing   A type of printmaking in which the ink or color isapplied directly to the plate, then the paper laid upon it and rolled or daubed.
Surface rolled   A plate inked on the surface rather than in the grooves or cut-out areas.
Sur le motif   A term that refers to working in front of the subject, indoors and outdoors.
Surprint   A combination of the line and halftone from two seperate negatives, merged to produce one printing plate.
Surrealism   A movement in Art that purports to be a way of life as well as a style, seeks to broaden reality by dealing with the subconcious, the result often taking on the form of fantasy, dreams, symbols or the grotesque. Prominent Artists include Miro, Ernst, and Salvador Dali.
Suzuri   (Japanese) An ink grinding stone used to grind pieces from a sumi ink block to make sumi ink.
Sweat box   In animated cartooning, the projection room.
Swipe file   See Clip file.
Symbolism   The Art of depicting a hidden meaning, using symbols.
Symbolist painting   An attitude more than an Art movement, around 1890, when Artists such as Redon, Moreau and others promoted the idea of using symbolic, enigmatic dream fantasies to represent the emotions, such as love, hate, fear, etc.
Symmetrical Formal in balance, with elements of equal or near-equal weight on either side of a real or implied center fulcrum.
Syn   (Greek, "together") A group of German Artists formed in 1964 to reveal Art beyond hard-edge painting or action painting; Artists involved were Bernd Berner and Rolf- Gunter Dienst.