Art Terms and Definitions — T

T-Square     |     Typography

A dictionary of art terms and definitions that begin with the letter T.

Art Terms and Definitions -- TA guide for drawing horizontal lines on a drafting table. Also used to guide the triangle that draws vertical lines. Its name comes from the general shape of the instrument where the horizontal member of the T slides on the side of the drafting table (see illustration).
A method of painting with pigments bound in a water-soluble emulsion, such as water and egg yolk (plus sometimes glue or milk), or an oil-in-water emulsion such as oil and a whole egg. Traditionally applied to a rigid support such as a wood panel and fresco, the paint then dries to a hard film. This technique was widely used in Italian art in the 14th and 15th centuries and later replaced by oil paint.
Tertiary Colors
tertiary colors on the color wheelAlso called intermediate colors; these are blends of primary and secondary colors. Colors such as red-orange and blue-green are tertiary colors.
See “Quadriptych.”
The tactile surface characteristics of a work of art that are either felt or perceived visually.
Occupying or giving the illusion of three dimensions (height, width, depth).
Three-dimensional Space   
A sensation of space that seems to have thickness or depth and height and width.
Three-quarter View   
A face or any other subject halfway between a full and a profile view.
Thumbnail Sketch
Crude, small pencil drawings used to develop the initial concept for a design.
Acronym for Tagged Image File Format, a standard graphic image file format usually generated by scanners. Developed by Aldus and Microsoft.
A hue with white added. Pink is a tint of red.
An oxide used as a white pigment of great permanence and covering power. Usually extended with other whites to improve its brushing and drying properties.
The folk art of decorative painting on tin and wooden utensils, objects, and furniture. Typical metal objects include utensils, coffee pots, and similar household items. Wooden objects include tables, chairs, and chests, including hope chests, toy boxes, and jewelry boxes.
A term that describes the quality of color. It has to do with whether a color is perceived as warm or cold, bright or dull, light or dark, and pure or “dirty.” It also refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color, its shade, or how dark or light a color appears.
The change or passing from one condition, place, thing, or activity to another; the passage linking one subject, section, or part of a composition with another.
Tribal Art 
An artform or artifact created by indigenous people which embraces the traditional art of tribal societies in the Americas, Africa, India, the South Pacific, and Australasia. The most common examples of tribal art are masks, paintings, and carved sculptures, many of which are spiritual or religious. Tribal arts have historically been collected by Western anthropologists, private collectors, and museums, particularly ethnographic and natural history museums.
(Pronounced trip-tick). An artwork that is divided into three painted panels or three relief-carved sections. The imagery in the three panels may flow together to form a single unified scene, or they may each function as a separate painting, yet related to create a strong sense of visual unity and cohesion. The panels can be attached using a hinge or displayed side-by-side.
Trompe L’oeil
French for “fool the eye.” A two-dimensional representation that is so naturalistic that it looks actual or real (three-dimensional.) This form of painting was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago in frescoes and murals.
A high-quality oil paint thinner and solvent.
Having two dimensions (height and width), referring to something flat.
Two-dimensional Space   
A measurable distance on a surface that shows height and width but lacks any illusion of thickness or depth.
The study and process of typefaces; how to select, size, arrange, and use them in general. In modern termTypographyphy includes computer display and output. Traditionally, typography was the use of metal types with raised letterforms that were inked and then pressed onto paper.

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Contributing to The Art Dictionary

This art 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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UPDATED: 13 March 2023

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