top of page

3D Acrylic Painting Techniques Blog

Blog > Art Terms

March 25, 2016 - by Ruth Collis

Art Terms

Here are some art terms and their meanings in these categories:



Color / Color Mixing
Difference Between...


Plasticy versatile paint that dries fast and applies to most any surface, and layer easily without ruining the first layers of paint. Gels and additives makes rich textures. Wide colors available. Iridescent/pearly/metallic ranges. No need for immediate framing.

Colored Pencils
Pencils without lead, but has a hard pigment for color. Is used in detail and illustration work. No hassle of framing, sealing, and varnishing needs. Technology in the arts has now extended this pencil idea to watercolor pencils. You can draw, get it wet, then all kinds of watercolor fun appears.

Black and white medium mostly for learning to shade and shadow. Flaky, messy, and use of flexible kneaded eraser is needed. Sanding blocks or sand paper is used to sharpen, and blenders/tortillions for blending.

Waxy paint heated in pans on a sort of griddle, used to layer melted pigmented waxes into a painting. Use of applied heat through various tools. Expensive startup. More for technical minded. Safety precaution need with heated elements, and easy-spill environment.

Buttery, oily feel of traditional master's slow-drying paint, with rich vibrant colors, make up oil paints. It blends dreamy and makes you feel like a professional. There is an overwhelming list of rules to use this medium, supplies to get, and is toxic to breathe. LUKAS Berlin Water-Mixable Oil Colors is a good cheap start to oil painting, where you clean up with water, and has no harmful fumes. No metallic colored paints are generally associated with oils; however you can find them in Oil Bars below now, another new thing to hit the market. Oil takes 6 months to a year to dry depending on layer height, then requires varnishing to protect from dirt and elements; however the Lukas Berlin oils have been formulated to touch-dry in few hours to days.

Oil Bars
A stick of oil paint in writable form, but with more wax and dries faster than traditional oil paints. Differs from Oil Pastels, as it is actual oil paint, and dries. Can be used with brush or knife. Called different names by each manufacturer. Expensive, Messy, but immense fun. Self-seals, meaning, you peel a layer of dried paint off the stick to reveal applicable paint underneath. Pearl colors available. 

Oil Pastels
Oily, creamy crayon, but richer in color/pigment, and softer, so easier to apply. Has look of oil painting without need for brushes. Inexpensive, comes in rich colors, metallics now, and fluorescents, but has blunt stick form, requiring mastering a point, or wasting medium, sharpening. Oil Pastels never dry, so need protecting with a sealant and/or framing.

Soft Pastels
Chalky medium that lays down rich color (unlike colored chalk), and very dusty in nature. Inexpensive, but dust particles hazardous to breathe in. Use in ventilated area. Very messy, but neat blended effects. Finished paintings need immediate sealing with fixative to prevent smears, or to be archived in glassine sheets, or framed in glass, not plexiglass that will attract dust particles to it, and spaced correct distance away from painting.

Pastel Pencils
Chalky pastel in pencil form for detail work. Softer than colored pencils, and richer brilliant pigment. More pricey, so extra hand sharpening care with a knife could be required, than using a regular pencil sharpener. Some say sharpeners break the lead deep inside.

Watery medium that changes with each layer, mixing as you add to it. Comes in many forms of cakes, squeeze tubes, gel sticks, pencils for detail, and now having pearlescent and shimmery colors available. Cheap medium but hassle of keeping watercolor papers from buckling makes up for the time and hassle spent.

Open Stock
When a manufacturer allows you to buy an item idividually, that's normally sold in sets, such as pastels, or oil bars. The higher quality items may be done this way, for you to try them out, before making a huge set purchase. Also, you can get the exact colors you want this way. Examples would be pastels, oil bars, and certain watercolor pencils you want to be as bright as pastel pencils., and seeing them in person is often more expensive, but a better deal, since you know exactly what you are getting from the look, touch, or any sampling on paper there they may allow you to do. Blick's Fine Art Materials is a place where you can often get open stock items.




Color / Color Mixing:

Primary Colors
The colors mixed to create other secondary colors.
(red, blue, yellow)

Secondary Colors
The colors made from mixing Primary colors.
(red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green-blue, blue-green, blue-red, red-blue)

Tertiary Colors 
Mixing one primary with one complementary color.

Complementary Colors
Colors opposite of each other on the Color Wheel.
(blue & orange, yellow & purple, red & green)

Running from white to black with all of the intermediate grays in between.

Here is an example of NO grayscale, just solid black & solid white in "B&W Closup of Ruth Collis": 

Get Free Course

How to Paint a 3D

Simple Sculptural Rose

Undiluted colors. The true colors of the spectrum as it is.

Brightness of a color.

Diluted brightness of a color, either by tinting or shading.

Lightness and darkness of a color.

Lightness of a color.

A color with the presence of white. 
Lighter shade of a color.  
(Pink is a tint of red.)

A color with the presence of black. 
Darker shade of a color. 
(Navy is a shade of blue.)

A combination of the hue with black and white.

The rate or degree of resistance to colors fading when exposed to light and

bad elements (UV, heat, acids or alkalis, etc.)


Something very thick in nature as opposed to liquidy. Here's a Wikipedia example: Ruth Collis uses highly viscous or thick paints, yet here is an example of how both were used together in her "Thick & Thin" piece:  







Brush Pen/Water Brush/Aqua Flow Brush
Brush with fat water-filled handle for squeezing out water on to a painting to prevent having to re-dip a paintbrush back into the water jar. Just squeeze-&-go. Strengthens hand muscles.

Filbert Brush
A flat brush with rounded tip. Makes softer edges.

Egbert Brush
An elongated filbert.

A stiff kind of waterproof foam board between sheets of paperboard, used for stretching watercolor paper.

Bright Brush
Short flat square bristles for short strokes & thick color

Flat Brush
Longer bristle square brush for longer strokes (holding more color) & thinner color stroke. Use for bold sweeping strokes or on edge for fine lines. Makes hard edges.

Skyscraper flat wash Brush
A flat wash brush with a beveled end on the handle that can be used for scraping.



A glassy film or transparent coating applied to the surface of a painting to modify the color tones. The painting underneath, would be called an underpainting. The underpainting gives a base, the top glaze painting, adds sparkle. The two can't really be mixed, and underpaintings have thicker covered opaque properties that would wash out any brilliance of a glaze. The transparent glaze is meant to show through to the underpainting, and both are meant to compliment and go together. 

Using thinned paint on top of a darker color is called scumble; whereas using thinned paint on top of a lighter color is called a glaze.

Layers of paint painted over a base or underpainting.

The first layer of paint applied to form a ground, or base for subsequent layers of paint and is intended to be painted over (see overpainting) in a system of working in layers.

Using wet paint applied on a wet surface, whether that surface is just water or more paint. This creates an effect where colors mix together, and where if using a watercolor pencil on an already wet surface, the color spreads richly and magically.

Using wet paint over a dry area/substrate, or by letting each layer dry before using another color. This prevents some colors from mixing that you want set the way you painted it. This does not work with watercolor too well, but yes, for acrylics and oils.


This is a new term by I (Ruth Collis) came up with where the dried shapes of paint, often sculpted, are placed into a wet painting or glued with an archival glue into a dry painting for a highly sculpted painting that you can't get without drying the paint first on what I call a Separate Drying Layer to then be peeled of and sculpted in into a form, then placed in a painting to still be completely an acrylic medium.


This is more interesting when you can make paint do things in a found-object world where objects are just painted on, than actually forming the object out of paint itself. Being all acrylics also doesn't compromise the integrity of the paint lasting longer than who knows what other kind of objects might develop rust or degradable elements that affect a painting's longevity. That you don't have to worry about if the painting is all acrylic.




Thick application of paint, and now with the thicker mediums capabilities, sculptural shaping can be done with the paint while dry that can't be done with the wet-into-wet style, that is like impasto extreme. It would then be better called: "sculptural painting."

Photo Mosaic
Where hundreds of tiny photos arranged together meticulously, make a whole other big picture from looking at it farther away. Seeing the larger picture first, one would think nothing of the mind-boggling detail until looking closer.

A painting in various tints & shades of a single monochromatic color, especially gray, to produce the illusion of objects in relief or sculpture.

A a single color painting done in a range of tones like Ruth's piece: "Buttery Sunshine."


Difference Between:

Color, or Colour?
"Colour" came first, before the Americans simplified it to "color". Which is better? None, just how it originated.

Bright and Flat brush:
Bright: Wide short flat square bristles for short strokes & thick color

Flat: Wide longer bristle rectangular brush for longer strokes (holding more color) & thinner color stroke. Use for bold sweeping strokes or on edge for fine lines. Makes hard edges.

Flat Shader & One-Stroke brush:
Flat Shader: thin narrow flat brush for shading or doing block lettering work
One-Stroke: long thin narrow flat rectangular brush for shading or doing block lettering work

Anime and Manga:
Manga: Japanese comic book cartoon style still drawing on paper, many made into English.
Anime: Animation, video, or motion of Manga, often with foreign fans. 

Cold Pressed & Hot Pressed:
Cold Pressed is rough paper like watercolor paper or pastel paper with hills and valleys in it for collecting pigment, and gives a textures look to paintings.

Hot Pressed is paper pressed with heat to make it smoother for more detail like drawing mediums, or where you want rich smooth color without paper texture showing. You won't be able to build up layers as much, but will save on wasting the medium.

Ruth Collis, Sculptural Painting Instructor

Ruth Collis

Sculptural Painting Instructor

See how to save great money on the cost of gel mediums, get 3 times as much than what is sold in the stores, and also learn how to make this 3D Simple Sculptural Rose, all for free in signing up here at the link or click on the picture below.

bottom of page