Fantasy Landscape Glossary

The terms in this glossary may have other meanings in the real world, but here you'll find the explanation for the way I use them in my Fantasy Landscape series.

Color Family: The group of shades and tints within a pigment's color.  Pale yellow and dark yellow both belong to the yellow family,  Sky blue and royal blue to the blue family, olive green and yellow-green to the green family.

Composition: The placement of  all the elements of a drawing. Interest, weight, values, focal points, and flow are all important elements in a drawing (or any art for that matter). Composition is a subtle and complex thing.  Even experienced artists who can draw the most beautiful objects may be dissatisfied with their work because the composition is not good.

Focal Point/Focus: The area or object in your drawing that pulls the viewer's eye first when they look at your drawing. There should be one main focal point, and then lesser focal points to help the eye move around the drawing (see flow).

Fantasy Landscape Series: A series of step-outs, step-by-step tutorials, tips and techniques that I'm using to help people draw landscapes from their imagination.  Dragons are not found here - unless you want them.  I'm using the term fantasy to mean your drawings are a creation of your mind and imagination that may or may not be based on reality.  My aim is to keep it simple, show you a few basics of technique through example that won't take a lot of time on your part.  My inspiration comes from naive art and I won't always be following the rules of traditional art convention.

Flow: When someone looks at a drawing, their eyes move around, picking out detail.  Drawings with clear focal points and balanced weight help them decide how to travel through the work almost like there were arrows directing them to go here next.

Interest: The appeal an object has for most viewers.  People are more likely to look for, study and remember a face than a rock.  Therefore a face has more 'interest'.  Textures, values, size, numbers and shapes all add interest.  It's a little bit like rock, paper, scissors.  A group of rocks would be more interesting than a single rock.  But a rock with texture, larger size or unusual shape might be more interesting than a group of rocks.  A squirrel (which has a face) would be more interesting than a rock, but a huge rock might be more interesting than a tiny squirrel.

Opacity: The degree to which a color is opaque, hiding what is beneath it.   An opaque color hides drawn lines.  If you layer it over another color, a completely opaque color will not change.  A less opaque color may change but only slightly and may not reflect the color underneath.  For instance, layering a very dark purple over yellow may turn the mix to black or dark gray. There is a wide range in the degree of opacity among colors, color families and brands. the opposite of opacity.

Pattern Motif: A motif  is an element of the artistic work. It can be a single image or, the important emphasis for this discussion, a  motif may be an image that is repeated in order to create a pattern.  If you draw a circle several times, it is a motif for a pattern of circles.  If you draw a circle, a square and a banana grouped together, and then repeat that grouped image again in the same work, the whole group is a motif.  In essence, you can make a pattern from anything if you repeat it.

Shade: This term may refer to the color of a pigment - yellow, red, blue, etc.  or it can be used to refer to a  color mixed with black to darken it and dull it.

Step-out: A short illustrated tutorial showing you how to draw an object by breaking it down into steps.  This is similar to what you might find in many how-to drawing books or in tangle patterns for the Zentangle® method.

Step-by-step: An illustrated and written tutorial showing you how to draw a complete fantasy landscapes.  Each step-by-step has a two themes. The first involves the objects that are drawn and may be as abstract as studying the shapes or textures used in them, or as specific as the kind of objects-animals, people, etc.  The second theme covers some feature of art technique - values, depth, shading, etc.
There are usually two similar landscapes. One is for comparison, and the other is broken down step by step with explanations of what I did, and why I made the choices. The explanations are quite lengthy and detailed, but easily skipped over if one only wants to follow the illustrations.

Step-wisely: A tutorial aimed at showing tips and techniques. Usually one is posted the week before a step-by-step, and features something that will be used in that step-by-step.

Tint: A color lightened by adding white.  Pink is a tint of red.

Tone: A color mixed with gray to darken and dull it.

Transparency: The degree to which a color is transparent, see-through.  No coloring medium - pens, paints, etc. is completely transparent but some colors are more clear than others.  A transparent color allows drawn lines to be seen easily.  If you layer it over another color, both colors change but the color underneath will affect the change more than it would with an opaque color.  There is a wide range in the degree of transparency among colors, color families and brands. Opacity is the opposite of transparency.

Value: Value is a term in art that refers to a scale of light to dark.  You should have at least three values - light, medium and dark, but will probably have more.  High contrast between light and dark adds more interest and can create a focal point in your drawing.

Weight: The combination of interest and values creates weight.  The area of your drawing with the most weight becomes the focal point.  Lesser areas of weight help guide the eye around the drawing.  A drawing with equal weight through-out seems flat and uninteresting.

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