Being able to verbally describe your work to a client throughout the feedback process is an indispensable skill. Here we’ve come up with fifteen very useful, high-level design words that any professional artist should have in his or her vocabulary.

1. Contour

design words: contour
Picasso’s famous contour drawing of Igor Stravinsky

Basically another word for outline, but with a slightly more nuanced meaning. Whereas outline typically refers to the border between a drawn object and its environment, contour refers more to the shapes made by a 3D surface, which an artist can portray.

For example, “the contours of her face.”

2. Curvilinear

design words: curvilinear
Curvilinear patterns on a Gothic cathedral window

Where a lay person says “curvy” or perhaps “flowy,” an artist says curvilinear — a reference to a shape bounded by curved rather than straight lines.

3. Flush

design words: flush
An example of text that is flush left, ragged right.
In design, flush refers to text that is perfectly aligned with the margin of a page, as in “flush left” or “flush with the right margin.”

4. Kerned

design words: kerning
Three different kernings of the word “WAR” in Clarendon typeface

5. Muted

design words: muted color
Muted pastels (via New Evolution Designs)

As with sound, muted refers to colors that are in some way softened or dimmed; to be precise, rendered less bright, often by the addition of their complementary colors. The opposite of muted would be bright, vivid or vibrant.


8 thoughts on “DESIGNER’S WORD LIST !

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