Acrylic – A relatively modern medium developed in the 1930s, acrylic paint is made up of powdered pigment just like most varieties of paint, but the pigment is suspended in acrylic polymer resins. The potential to easily change acrylic paint's drying time and texture, as well as other working properties, make it an extremely popular painting medium.
Acrylic paint also has a large variety of mediums that are often added. This can make the paint thicker and dry more slowly, allowing for a style much like impasto oil painting; it can also be thinned with water and made to resemble watercolor; with an addition of white paint, it can be made to appear like gouache. Another relatively popular variant of acrylic paint, commonly used in illustration, is acrylic gouache.
Additive – The process where an artist adds material to create an image.
Bristol/Bristol Vellum – Flat, smooth paper designed to be used with pens and ink.
Binder – The substance used to hold pigment together, often gum, wax, or oils.
Burin – A specialized chisel used for engraving and etching.
Caldecott Medal and Honor Books – The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The winners are chosen by a committee of 15 librarians and children’s book experts and awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Medal shall be awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the picture book except that the illustrations be original work.
Canvas – Linen or cotton fabric, often covered with an absorbent acrylic ground which protects the canvas from solvents and changes the qualities of the surface. Canvas is often used with oil and acrylic paints.
Cartoon – A style of illustration often used with humorous text. Lined outline drawings, filled in with paint, pencil, or digital art.
Chalk – A dry material composed of calcium sulfate or calcium carbonate to make it white; colored pigments are also often added.
Charcoal – Charcoal can take multiple forms: compressed charcoal, which is powdered carbon bound in wax; a charcoal stick dried in a kiln, producing a dusty effect that can be easily blended and allow for painterly techniques; and charcoal pencils, similar to a graphite pencil, in which the charcoal is bound in wood and can be sharpened to a fine point, allowing for detail and hatching.
Collage – A mixture of surfaces, supports and mediums used together.
Color Separation – A process used in book illustration, in which specially prepared artwork has isolated, individual colors of ink for printing. Typically there would be one color separation for each color of ink.
Colored Pencil – Colored pencil consists of pigment and binders. Colored pencil binder can be wax or oil based allowing for glossy or matte textures as well as altering its layering and blending ability. Watercolor pencils or water soluble colored pencils are also commonly used, allowing artists to add water to their drawing to use more painterly techniques.
Crayon – a pointed stick of colored clay, chalk, or wax used for drawing or coloring.
Digital Media – a modern medium can imply a wide variety of different techniques, tools and programs from 3D rendering to 2D painting and graphics programs. The most common in illustration is digital painting programs. Digital painting is a type of digital art where the program emulates the look and feel of traditional drawing or painting, the artist uses a stylus connected to a computer and the program renders the image using pixels. Another technique artists use is combining digital painting with traditional artwork, allowing for the quick and easy changes and ease of reproduction that digital mediums offer, but still giving the texture and color of a traditional work. Some artists even use digital programs to create collage and to emulate other styles.
Drawing – Drawing generally refers to using line to create form and figure as opposed to paint, where rendering is done with blending, smearing, and smudging, though the two can be used interchangeably and many artists use painterly techniques in their drawing. The majority of drawing materials take the form of dry media, with pen and ink being the sole exception.
Dry Media – A compacted stick of pigment often held together by wax, gum or other binders (see chalk, charcoal, pencil, pastel, colored pencil.)
Dummy – A mock up of the sketches and text in a book format that helps the artist or writer visualize how the final version will appear.
Etching – The artist scratches away the wax creating the image; the exposed metal is exposed to acid, creating the lines in the metal that will absorb the ink.
Felt Marker – A felt pen with a wide nib for making bold marks (drawing).
Full bleed – An illustration in which all four sides extend to the border of the page.
Gouache – Paint made with a mixture of powdered pigment suspended in gum Arabic (sap from acacia trees) and honey, which acts as a preservative. What differentiates gouache from watercolour is that it is thicker and non transparent. This is accomplished in numerous ways: often the pigment is not milled as fine as in watercolour, and the pigment load is higher, increasing coverage and saturation. Zinc oxide, a white pigment, is also added. Modern developments in gouache include acrylic gouache, which is made in a similar way as traditional gouache but suspended in an acrylic polymer resin instead of gum Arabic.
Gum Arabic – Sap from Arabica trees, commonly used in water-based media because of its water solubility.
Hatching – Technique of using dashes or dots of line to create form, shadows and shape, often used in drawing techniques and etchings.
Holograph – A document or illustration hand lettered by the artist.
Ink – Ink has been invented separately in different parts of the world, but generally always has the same composition. India ink is the most common ink used in illustration; its flat dark color allowing for easy printing, scanning, or photo copying. India ink ingredients are simply carbon black, sometimes called lamp black (this can be acquired from a variety of sources but is the soot produced by burning petroleum-based products) and shellac, a resin that allows the ink to dry quickly, flatly and permanently. Another common ink, sepia, is a dark brow, historically created from squid ink but now often made synthetically. There are also modern inventions like acrylic inks which use acrylic polymers as pigment. They are designed to imitate the qualities of ink.
See Pen & Ink below for artist examples.
Impasto – A method of applying paint thickly and allowing the texture to imply form and shape. This can only be used with thick pigments like oil and acrylic.
Intaglio – The sunken image holds the ink. The paper is squeezed into the ridges of the etching to absorb the ink.
Linoleum-linocut – A form of relief printing where the artist uses a sharp knife to cut into a block of linoleum. Ink will adhere to the surface, while the recessed areas will remain clean. The advantage of linoleum over wood is its clean surface and no grain, allowing for bidirectional cuts and less texture. The softer material of linoleum has a shorter lifespan and will producer fewer prints than a woodcut.
Medium/media – In art, "medium" refers to the substance the artist uses to create his or her artwork. For example, the medium Michelangelo used to create "David" was marble, Calder's stabiles employ painted steel plates and Duchamp's infamous "Fountain" had porcelain as its medium. Far more commonly, you'll see notations following the titles of paintings that read along the lines of:
- "Gouache on paper"
- "Tempera on board"
- "Oil on canvas"
- "Ink on bamboo"
Etc., etc. All of those items listed are media.
Mixed Media – A combination of two or more media in an illustration.
- Raúl Colón – process art, watercolor, etching, colored pencil
- Don Freeman – scratchboard, watercolor, colored pencil and gouache
- Ezra Jack Keats – collage and tempera
- Yuyi Morales – stop motion puppets (steel, polymer clay, & wool) acrylic paints, photography and digital manipulation
- Melissa Sweet – collage, colored pencil, watercolor
- Brendan Wenzel - collage
Oil – Oil paint is powdered pigment bound in various types of plant derived oils, the most common being linseed or walnut oils. Oil painting was invented in Europe in the 15th century and its extremely slow drying time it allowed painters to work on a single painting for years at a time, depict great degrees of realism, and display more varied techniques. Oil paintings can be created with a wide variety of techniques such as impasto (painting while the paint is still wet) or using transparent glazing (oil thinned with turpentine or additional oil) techniques, much like watercolor painting. These techniques are often used in conjunction to describe different textures and lighting. Although oil paint can be used on paper it is often used on cotton or linen canvas (less commonly used is wooden panel).
Oil Pastel – A stick of dry pigment made with gum, thickened linseed oil, and beeswax. Oil pastels are less powdery than dry pastels and can be used for thick impasto effects like an oil paint.
Painting – Painting is an art form where pigment, bound in a medium, is transferred to a support to create an image. Even though there are many varieties of paint and techniques for using them all are composed of a pigment, which is the finely ground powder of minerals that alters the colors of transmitted light in a medium. All mediums use the same kind of pigment, but milled to various degrees of fineness or uniformity. A kind of paint can also be differentiated by its medium, which is the binder, and its solvent. With watercolor, for an example, the binder would be gum Arabic; this holds the dry pigment together and produces a thick paste. The paste is then diluted with water (the solvent) to the desired consistency. The support for painting varies widely, and can be any surface that the paint adheres to, though most traditionally used are heavyweight cotton papers, wood, and canvas. Paint can also be applied with anything, but the most common painting tools are animal and synthetic fiber brushes, metal palette knives, and airbrushes.
Pastel – A stick of pure pigment, bound in wax or gum Arabic. There are a few different types of pastels that alter their working properties: soft pastel has a very high pigment concentration with less binder, which results in very bright colors but a less precise, more painterly application. Hard pastels are on the opposite side of the spectrum, containing more binder and less pigment. They are used for fine detail line drawings.
Pen & Ink – There are a wide variety of pens that can be used to create artwork, but the most common is a sharp metallic point called a nib. Attached to a holder, the nib is dipped into a bottle of ink and commonly referred to as dip pens. Other commonly used pens are felt tipped pens, which use a stiff tip of felt saturated with ink, and radiographic pens which use a needle that deposits ink when applied with pressure. Pens allow for delicate, consistent, and precise lines but can also be used for calligraphic lines much like a brush. They are commonly used for outlining and hatching (using many small lines to create shadow, shape, and form). Black India ink, the most common ink used, is simply water, carbon black, and shellac. Many artists also use coloured inks that are made with a wide assortment of dyes and pigments.
Pencil – A rod of graphite, bound in a wood body, that can be made in various degrees of hardness. Graphite is a metallic greyish color, often used for underdrawings, but it can also be used to create soft lines and edges, differentiating it from inks or charcoal pencils.
Photography – Film photography is the process or art of producing images of objects on sensitized surfaces by the chemical action of light. Digital photography is the taking or manipulation of photographs that are stored as data files on a computer.
Printmaking – Printmaking is an art form in which ink or other materials are transferred from a matrix to a material such as paper, fabric, wood, or stone. The matrix used for printmaking is classically a block of material such as wood, linoleum, rubber, or metal. In relief printing, the matrix is carved away to create a raised image, which prints in reverse. Intaglio printing involves incision of the matrix, while planographic techniques like lithography use specially treated flat plates, with the ink adhering in some areas and not in others. The use of stencils and screen printing tools is also a form of printmaking.
Reductive – The process of making art where the artist removes material to create an image
Relief – The raised image on a print.
Scratchboard – A medium and surface that consists a panel coated with black clay over a layer of white clay. The artist scratches away the black top layer to create the image. The technique is very similar to an etching but allows more freedom in the use of additional mediums. Often used with India ink, artists can also use gouache, watercolor, oil, and acrylic with scratchboard.
Screen Printing – A stencil method of printmaking in which a design is imposed on a screen of fine mesh, with blank areas coated in an impermeable substance. Ink is forced into the mesh openings by the fill blade or squeegee and by wetting the substrate, transferred onto the printing surface with strokes from the squeegee. As the screen rebounds away from the substrate, the ink remains on the substrate. It is also known as silkscreen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image or design.
Solvent – A liquid that will dissolve another substance. For many mediums the solvent is water but turpentine and mineral spirits are often solvents for oil paint.
Support/Surface – The surface that two dimensional art is created upon. Surfaces are generally specific to the medium used. (See canvas, scratchboard, watercolor paper, Illustration board, Bristol)
Tempera – Tempera is made of powdered pigment mixed with a gum Arabic and egg emulsion. Tempera has a high pigment load, giving it bright, saturated colors. Because tempera dries quickly, it is is often used for flat blocks of color (somewhat like gouache) rather than being used for techniques involving gradations and transparency.
Water Based Media – A type of media of pigment suspended in a binder where water is the primary solvent. (See acrylic, gouache, tempera, ink, watercolor)
Watercolor – Very finely powdered pigment suspended in gum Arabic (sap from acacia trees), a honey or sugar solution, and a dispersant wetting agent like ox gall (gall obtained from cows). The dispersant agent helps increase the flow of watercolor, which creates the characteristic transparent washes of watercolor. Unlike gouache, watercolor is used for transparent painting techniques and can be used in successive transparent layers or used over ink without covering them. It is also very popular in a mixed media approach as it does not cover any underdrawing.
- Jose Aruego
- Sophie Blackall
- Tomie dePaola
- Ariane Dewey
- Leo & Diane Dillon
- Betsy Lewin
- Ted Lewin
- E.B. Lewis
- Steve Light
- Susan Meddaugh
- James McMullan
- Jerry Pinkney
- Vera B.Williams
Watercolor paper – Finely woven paper designed to be absorbent and resistant to water damage, often including a coating (sizing) of gelatin. These papers come in hot press (a smooth paper), cold press (rougher and more absorbent), and rough press with an uneven and textured surface.
Wet into wet – Painting into an area that has yet to dry, often creating amorphous or more textural effects
Woodcut/Woodblock – Woodcut/woodblock relief printing is a technique where the artist uses a sharp knife to cut into a block of wood. Ink will adhere to the surface, while the recessed areas will remain clean.
Wood Engraving – A relief printing process. Though wood engraving is functionally similar to a woodcut, the image is carved with a burin and uses a harder grain of wood, allowing for more durable and intricate prints.