Art Terms and Definitions — D

art terminology

A list of art terminology that begins with the letter “D,” complete with definitions for over 20 art-related terms from DADA to DPI.

Quick links to more art terminology are located at the end of the list.

Art Terminology: “D” Words


An avant-garde art movement that emerged during World War I in Europe in negative reaction to the atrocities and folly of war. Dada artists poked fun at all the established traditions and tastes in art with works that were deliberately satirical and nonsensical.


A resin used in varnishes and inks, derived from timber trees in Malaya and Indonesia, as well as coniferous and hardwood trees in Southeast and East Asia.

DayGlo Colors

Also called fluorescent colors and neon colors, are bright, clean materials with a unique “glowing” effect under ultraviolet or black light. They are widely used to attract attention, focus attention on objects, warn people of hazardous situations, and get an object or situation noticed. They are commonly used in traffic cones, detergent packaging, tennis balls, and fishing lures, and can be found in various media including oil and acrylic paints, inks, dyes, markers, and crayons. See also, “fluorescent colors.”

Dead Color Layer

A crucial stage in painting, consisting of a monochrome underpainting as the base layer before additional layers of paint are applied to create depth and vibrancy. This stage establishes the composition, as well as main light and dark relationships in the final artwork. Also referred to as the monochrome version of the final painting.


Artwork consisting of ten panels or parts where each panel depicts a different but related depiction. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side to make one large image. Decaptych is not a widely used term, although it is used in the visual arts. It comes from the Greek words “deca” which means ten and “ptych” refers to a panel or segment of a larger work of art. See also “polyptych.”

Decorative Art

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A form of visual art that involves the design and decoration of objects that have both aesthetic and practical value. Ceramics, jewelry, enamels, furniture, glass, ivory, metals, and textiles are examples of decorative art forms, particularly when utilized as interior decoration.


A French word meaning “paste-up.” The Victorian craft of cutting out motifs from paper, gluing them to a surface, and covering the glued-on paper with as many layers of varnish as is required to give a completely smooth finish.

Depth of Field

In photography, the area in front of and behind the focused point that is sharp. A shallow depth of field is used in portraits to provide a soft backdrop, while a greater depth of field is useful for landscapes to ensure everything from the foreground to the background is in focus. Shorter (wide-angle) lenses and smaller apertures increase the depth of field.


The systematic arrangement of design elements to achieve a single effect, encompassing the organization and composition of a work. An effective design combines elements of art and design principles to achieve a sense of unity.


A designer is a person who plans the appearance and function of a product, structure, or system before it’s made. They work in various disciplines like architecture, engineering, urban planning, and industrial design. Designers communicate ideas through visual representations and use design tools like digital design and sketches to create artwork. Different types of designers include graphic, fashion, and interior designers.


The process of relating the elements, whether similar or contrasting, and visually arranging an interesting unity with them using the design principles.

Digital Art

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Computer Art

Refers to artworks created with software on a computer platform. This includes images crafted entirely on a computer, as well as photographs and hand-drawn illustrations that have been digitized and altered or completed using software like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. It is also known by other terms such as computer art, multimedia art, and new media art.


(Pronounced dip-tick). A work of art consisting of two painted or carved panels where each panel depicts a different but related scene. The panels can be hinged together or presented side-by-side. The term “diptych” comes from the Greek words “di” (meaning “two”) and “ptychē” (meaning “fold”).


The emphasis that is placed on a particular area or characteristic of a work, with other areas or aspects given subordinate or supporting roles.


A drawing created while a person’s attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple sketches that may hold specific representational significance or be merely a collection of arbitrary and abstract strokes.


To draw or sketch aimlessly, especially when preoccupied.

Double Exposure

A technique used in film and photography to expose two images onto one negative or sheet of photographic paper.

Double Loading

A painting technique that involves loading a brush with two colors side by side. This is a technique typical of tole and other kinds of decorative painting. Also known as “sideloading.”


The act of representing an image on a surface by adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. It also refers to a hand-drawn illustration.

Drip Painting

An abstract art style that gained popularity in the 20th century through the work of Jackson Pollock. In this technique, paint is dripped or poured onto the canvas, emphasizing movement and spontaneity to produce dynamic, one-of-a-kind effects.


Stands for “dots per inch.” DPI is a measure of dot density that refers to the number of individual dots in a line across a 1-inch span. Higher DPI values result in better print quality and sharper images, affecting image clarity and detail. It characterizes the resolution of hard copy prints and digital prints.

You May Also Like

This art terminology is provided as a valuable resource for art enthusiasts. If you like the information here and find it helpful, please consider purchasing a painting. Your support helps to cover the cost of keeping this art terminology lexicon online. Simply click or tap the thumbnail link of any Teresa Bernard oil painting to view additional details.

flower paintings
Dill Flowers Close-up (2021)
6″ w x 6″ h
landscape paintings
Devils Tower
6″ w x 6″ h

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

The art terminology dictionary is a work in progress. New terms and definitions are added on a regular basis. If you know of an art term and definition that isn’t already listed in it but you believe it should be, send it to us and we’ll consider adding it. We’ll let you know if we do. Thanks!

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