Glossary Of Graphics, Web Design, And Digital Painting Terms For Artists
By Tony Johansen - Director, East Sydney Academy of Art
These are the words that are found when using graphics and web design software. Words like raster and bitmap and vector. These words can be very disconcerting for the beginner, there seems to be so many of them and they are all unfamiliar or puzzling. That is why this list of definitions is here, to help make sense of the language of digital image editing.
The strange language is unfortunately necessary necessary in this brave new world of computer art. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and in the end the words all make perfect sense (well, mostly)
If there are any words that you think should be on this list then please e-mail me using the e-mail link in the side bar. Words and terms from other areas of the general computer world are found on these pages:
- Glossary of Blog, Internet, and Computer Terms A - L
- Glossary of Blog, Internet, and Computer Terms M - Z
Under construction. June/July 2007. These glossary and software pages are a work in progress. Please understand that definitions are being added daily but will take time to finish.
Glossary Of Graphics, Web Design, And Digital Painting Terms
- 2-D Any artwork which is flat as if drawn on a piece of paper. Most digital images are 2 dimensional. If an artwork can br printed using a conventional printer then it can be considered 2 D.
- 3-D (1) Physical sculptural artworks are 3 dimensional and there are digital sculpting devices available that can be connected to a computer to produce a 3 dimensional object. (2) Any of several software graphics programs that can produce the illusion of a real 3 dimensional world. This is most applicable to the field of animation as it gives the artist the ability to move the "camera" around the object and witness the effects of light on an object in a realistic manner. Pixar films are a good example of 3 D animation.
- About Page The about page is one of the standard web pages on most web sites. It gives information about the company or individual who is making the site. On an artist's web site it is usually biographical and personal in nature and is a good place for an artist to outline his or her philosophical outlook, especially in regard to the arts.
- Adobe A major graphics software company named after the Adobe
Creek which ran behind the home of one of the founders John Warnock and
Charles Geschke who still run the company. It is headquatered in San
Jose, California and was begun in 1982 to develop and supply the
PostScipt page description software to Apple Computer. Illustrator
released in 1986 for the Macintosh was the first successful vector
based drawing program that was at the cutting edge of what was possible
with computer capabilities at the time. PhotoShop, also a Macintosh
program was released in 1989. This close association of Adobe and
Macintosh continued until well into the 1990's, however a shift of
focus to enmbrace both the Windows and Macintosh platforms after 1997
saw Adobe grow until it is now a company with a $40 billion
capitalization, and revenue of 2.5 billion in 2006. In 2005 it
purchased its main competitor MacroMedia enabling its graphics suite to
expand to include the popular web development tools of Flash and
DreamWeaver. Adobe software is often regarded as the industry standard.
- Alpha Channel In a graphics program information about transparency of a color is stored in the alpha channel. This has many uses, especially for compositing images together. In video editing, for example, action can be filmed against a blue background then later that color can be made transparent and images from another source inserted in its place. Thus a man could be made to look like he is sitting on a cloud.
- Alt Tags Text that can take the place of an image. They originated because many early computers were slow to load images so many web surfers would configure their computer to display text only. The alt text would display a description of the image. This is still important for those with vision impairment as special readers that translate text into speech can read the alt tags but cannot interpret the actual images. Alt tags can also help with search engines as they index images from web pages, and the text can help with page ranking.
- Anchors (1) Hyperlinks that link to information within a web page. A good use of anchors is to have an index of main headings for subject matter at the top of a long page and then link them to anchor targets at the specified headings. Clicking the link will take the user directly to the information on the page rather than needing to search for it. WYSIWYG editors tend to have a toolbar icon for easy creation of anchors. (2) The term is sometimes loosely applied to all hyperlinks between web resources.
- Anime The Japanese word for animation, it derives from the French word for it. Anime is a giant industry in Japan, much bigger than most Western countries with television shows and full length feature films being made as well as a substantial portion of original video sold primarily as DVD. Anime is often characterized by characters with large eyes and generally is stylistically different to Western animation. Story lines follow the complete gamut of popular culture and are aimed at adults as much as children.
- Anti-Alias A function in a graphics program that smooths the pixels around the edges of hard edge shapes and characters preventing a noticeable jagged edge look. It can also prevent various distortions such as moire patterns in tightly checkered patterned areas.
- Artist Web Sites
Artists are notoriously bad at self promotion of their artwork and few realize how important a web site is. Most artists think it is
(a) not a big deal, (b) too expensive, and (c), difficult to do. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) it is a big deal. A successful and well designed site
can transform the struggling and unknown artist into an
artist with a viable career. It can make a big
difference, but you have to put in hours refining your site in order to get good page rankings in Google. You cannot just put a page on the web and hope for the best. The difficulty issue does not have to be true, but there is a certain amount of learning involved. Like anything, if you put only a little effort in, the results will not be as good as if you put more effort in. There are two main types of web sites to choose from:
(1) STATIC WEB SITE. A static web site is the standard web site with a menu of several pages, buttons for navigation, etc. Blog web sites are discussed separately below. Static web sites can have animated effects and are often called Flash sites, or might have conventional pages with a Flash Splash page at the front. While eye catching and popular, Flash based sites are more difficult to make and not necessary for the beginner. If you make the site yourself (and it is not so difficult) you just have the cost of the domain name ( should be about $20 or less a year), the hosting (5 to 10 dollars monthly, and the cost of constructing the site - a template will cost $20 to $100, and a web design program like Composer is free, although some programs
can cost a few hundred dollars if you choose to buy one. It does not
have to be expensive if you treat it wisely. A wise investment is to go to
a computer book store and find an easy to understand book with a title like "teach yourself to make web pages in easy steps". It will help you get started with basic HTML (you don't have to know any, but a little is useful) how to structure a site from the beginning etc. If you use a template a lot of the ground work is already done for you. Go online and Google "templates". Remember that cheaper templates are often more difficult to use. As the template is the back bone of your site get a good one. Check out the quality of support for the template
too. And then go for it. Don't
forget that the site needs to be easy to read, and needs to get to the point
quickly. Artist's are often amazingly bad when it comes to web design,
don't assume that because you are an artist that automatically makes you
a good designer. Be humble, learn from good designs that you see. It
needs to be easy to read, easy to navigate, and fun for the user. Think of the reader's experience. Don't avoid text, a good web site has a good balance between text and pictures. A final word: the best hosting is rarely the free hosting that your service provider bundles into your account, the main problem is they usually have a difficult to remember and long URL. If people can't easily find you they won't find you. Get a good and easy to remember domain name and get good web hosting.
(2) BLOG A great alternative to a static web site is a blog based web site. This web site you are on right now is blog based. This site is proof that a blog does not have to be an amatuerish single page that many people think of when they think of blogs. In fact many major news media sites and tech sites are actually blog based sites. Blogs are designed to be easy to make. There are two basic choices: free or paid. Free blogs are easy to find, the biggest and best known is Blogger. When you sign up you discover that there are tutorials for beginners. Free blogs are a good way to learn how to make a blog, however the blogs with the best features are ones you pay for. TypePad is my favorite. This is a TypePad blog. For one blog it costs you $5 a month. That includes everything, the WYSIWYG editor, the domain, the hosting, as I said - everything. Tutorials and customer support are excellent, you can include static pages (as this one is) include fun widgets (like the cartoon in the side bar), include photo albums of your artwork, and generally make a great web site. And if you don't like the URL you can always register a domain name separately then use it as your address. As you gain experience you can customize your blog until it's a great web site that really works for you. A good blog is almost as good as a static web site but costs less and is easier to do. On the other hand, although it costs more in money and learning, static web sites can be the ultimate in flexibility and are easier to optimize for the best search engine rankings.
Whether a static web site or a blog, once it is live on the net you need to get it listed on as many directories as possible, get other web sites to link to your site, and submit your URL to Google and to Dmoz. You also need to tell everyone you have dealings with about the site, put it on your business card etc. You get traffic to your web site in direct proportion to the effort you put in to promoting it.
- AVI Stands for Audio Video Interleave. It is the most common audio and video file format on the Windows platform. AVI was created by Microsoft in 1992. It is considered outdated but remains in common use because of its compatibility with a wide range of equipment already in existence.
- Bande Dessinée Literally a strip of drawings that are Franco-Belgian and originated with simple comic strips in newspapers in the early 1900's. When The Adventures Of Tintin started in 1929 Bande Dessinée developed an increasingly distinctive style that became very influential on the development of comic books and the graphic novel generally. Tintin started as a small strip and the first true comic book as we understand the term today was an eight page weekly publication of American comics called Journal de Mickey in 1934. The Nazi occupation lead to the banning of American material and the opportunity for local artist's to gain prominence and eventual worldwide popularity. Tintin and Asterix lead a revolution in the graphic novel form with increasingly sophisticated storylines and artwork, and were eventually printed in more durable forms than the cheap newsprint of early comics. In the Anglo-American world there is a connection in the public mind between comics and childrens entertainment, whereas Bandes Dessinée is regarded in Europe as a serious artform. With the growth of the Internet cross fertilization between drawing styles has become hugely significant for artist's.
- Bézier Curves Pronounced bez-ee-ay and named after Pierre Bézier, an engineer working on car design, who demonstrated their value in computer graphics in 1962 and developed their usage. He is commonly said to be their inventor but they had first been described in 1959 by Paul de Casteljau. They are curved lines and curved
objects that are mathematically defined. Vector graphics software uses them as a fundamental drawing tool, but Bézier curves are supported by bitmap programs like PhotoShop as well. A Bézier curve has two endpoints called anchor points. Four more points called handles and control points are used to manipulate the curve into the required shape. Beginners find Bézier curves are bizarre at first as they create shapes by a method that bears no resembance to making a line with a pencil, but once mastered, most artist's really enjoy them as a means of drawing.
- Bitmap Most images on computers are bitmap images. Each pixel (or "bit") has a defined color. Examples of bitmap formats are GIF, JPEG, PICT, BMP, TIFF, and there are many more. Digital photographs are bitmap images. Bitmap images are characterized by jagged edges along diagonal lines when enlarged but are simple for people to create and manipulate and suit most peoples requirements for images. They are easy to compress into smaller files for use online.
- BMP A bitmap graphics format used internally by the Windows platform. It is not supported by most image editing programs but is supported by recent versions of PhotoShop and Flash. Files are not compressed and so are large.
- Broken Links Hyperlinks on a web site that do not work as intended. As the search engine spiders look for broken links and mark down sites that contain them they are important. From their point of view they want to serve up sites in response to search inquiry that will satisfy the client. Broken links are frustrating for the site visitor. Links get broken for two main reasons - the designer has made a mistake in entering the correct address, or the page being linked to no longer exists, or has been moved. it pays to manually click on every link in your site (including menu buttons) to test that they take you to the intended destination. It is an essential part of web site optimization. Software can be purchased that checks for broken links, but checking by hand is easy, costs nothing, and you can be more certain that you have it right.
- Cells The areas within a table that contain the data. The table organizes the cells in to rows and columns. The word is often used when making digital animations to refer to the different drawings that exhibit changes. This usage is similar to but precisely the same as the use of the word cel (short for cellulose) which was used in traditional animation for the image of the characters that were painted on a sheet of transparent film that could be overlaid over a background.
- Channels A black and white display of one of the color components of a full color image. In RGB (the same way of describing an image as in a monitor or television screen) the are 3 channels, one each for Red, Green, and Blue. For CMYK (used for the printing industry) there are 4 colors - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The Alpha channel stores information about transparency.
- Clip Art Illustrations that can be inserted easily into a document. They are often free but some are paid for. They are often in the form of large collections of images sorted according to theme or purpose.
- Clipping Path A type of path used in a graphics program that is used to cut off part of an image in a particular shape.
- Compression Reducing file sizes by discarding all non-essential
information. The way it is done is to discard repeated or otherwise superfluous data. This is a
simplified description of how that might happen. In a bitmap file every pixel
is individually described for color. Say there is a row of 10 pixels with the first
3 yellow, and the last 7 are red. In a full bitmap file every pixel's
color is described, but in a compressed file only the begining and end
of each color zone is recorded, in this case pixel's 1, 3, 4, and 10. The in-between pixel information is discarded in the compressed file for purposes of saving and sending.
In this case it is only 40% as big as the original was. When the image is
needed to be viewed it can be seen in any program that supports the
original compression technology. The program will then know that it needs to
display the remaining pixels in the color designated by the pixels that
start and finish that color, so the full image is reconstructed. In this example it is possible to have 40% compression and yet still get 100% of the information back because it is unrealistically simple. In the real world images are so complex that only a tiny portion of data can be reduced easily without loss at the time of reconstruction and many compression methods will discard at least some information that cannot be reconstructed easily. Also the person doing the compressing may choose (in order to have very fast load times for images on the Internet for example) to set the compression factor at a point where there is inevitable noticeable degredation of an image. This is where skill and experience needs to balance file sizes with image quality for best results. There
are many compression formats available. Common compression technologies include JPEG, GIF and PNG. Several ways of compressing files exist because they each have particular advantages in different circumstances. Most
graphics programs and browsers support all the common compression formats.
- Corel A computer software company with headquaters in Ottowa, Canada. Corel became in the 1990's the company that could unseat Adobe's position as the pre-eminent graphics software company with the huge popularity of its CorelDraw program. Unfortunately for Corel while Adobe remained focussed on graphics, Corel lost focus and devoted major energy to trying to compete with Microsoft Word with their WordPerfect software. Their followed many more programs that distracted from their core business and the company did not thrive as it might. After a number of reconstructions, the company has settled into a stable period with CorelDraw remaining its biggest seller. Artist's generally like Corel software. They make Painter, one of the best natural media painting programs, CorelDraw, a vector drawing program, Click And Create, a game development software, Paint Shop Pro, a budget priced bitmap graphics editor, PhotoPaint, a bitmap editor comparable with PhotoShop, Knock Out, a masking plug-in that enables difficult to define objects like fire and smoke to be cut out of images and pasted elsewhere. The company still promotes and sells WordPerfect, the software that brought it undone.
- CSS Cascading Style Sheets. A stylesheet language used to control fonts, color, and layout that is applied to the content of a web page but is separate from the content. This leads to greater flexibility and reduced repetition of page attributes. Although stylesheets originated in the 1970's, CSS was not implemented in browsers until Opera partially introduced it in 1999 and Apple's Safari more fully implemented it in 2000. Differences in the way different browsers implement CSS leads to variations in the appearance of pages in different browsers. Of the major browsers, Internet Explorer interprets CSS least successfully.
- Digital Art Art which is made within a computer. This includes a wide range of art forms from entirely new ways of making art that was not possible before the computer such as fractals to digital simulations of art making techniques such as painting and drawing. Digital art includes animated as well as still images. Digital art also includes images which originate with imported photographs or other scanned images (including hand made artwork) which are then substantially manipulated within a graphics program. Art produced outide of the computer and then imported or scanned and simply stored as a digital file is not considered to be digital art.
- Digital Painting Programs Digital painting can be acheived in the expensive and very sophisticated Painter, or the free and simpler ArtRage. There are numerous simple sketching and drawing programs like FlySketch most of which are free or very cheap. According to About the top 10 programs designed specifically for artistic creative expression are: (1) Painter (Windows and Macintosh), (2) ArtRage (Windows and Macintosh), (3) Painter Essentials (Windows and Macintosh), (4) Expression (Windows), (5) SketchBook Pro (for tablet PC - Windows and Macintosh), (6) Project Dogwaffle (Windows), (7) Deleter CGillust (anime and manga - Windows), (8) Twisted Brush (Windows), (9) PhotoArtMaster (Windows), (10) Studio Artist (Macintosh). The About list and further information can be found here.
- Dither (1)In a graphics program dither is the introduction of digital noise to provide a digital mixing of adjacent colors to create half tones where a limited palette is used. An original photograph might have millions of colors but if it is saved as a GIF file, for example, it will be displayed using a maximum of 256 colors, and often an even smaller number of colors is used to reduce file sizes. Dither is introduced to allow more gradual transitions between the colors and effectively gives the appearance of more colors than is actually available (2) Dither Trivia: Dithering is widely used by the public to describe human behavior, but few realize that the word was first invented in the 1940's to describe a method for improving computer performance. British and American bombers used mechanical computers to calculate bomb trajectories. It was soon discovered that the computers functioned better on the aircraft than on the ground. This was attributed to engine vibration causing the computer parts to move in a smoother manner and so early computers were fitted with vibration devices, and the word dither was derived from the medieval word didder which meant "to shake". When electronic computers were developed it was soon found that digital and electrical equivalents of dither had use in many computing functions.
- Domain Names Domain names are the web addresses that end in a dot and a suffix such as .com or .net. They are registered with a registrar and an annual fee is payable to keep the domain. They vary in price but are normally around $US 7 or 8 per year for .com. Shop around if you are being asked more than this. The best domain names are memorable and not confusing. Shorter is generally better than long. Often when you think of a name it is already registered and you need to try other ideas until you get one that you like and is available. Most artists should register their own name as an artist's name is like a brand. Most people looking for your work online will look under your name, so make it easy for them. Using just plain dot com is preferrable to using a country specific domain as art crosses borders and you do not want people outside of your country to ignore your site as many do when seeing country specific domains. Plain dot com is the easiest for most people to remember. Domains that are already registered can be sold and there are sites that make money just by registering domains and then selling them. The most desireable domains can sell for thousands of dollars, but mostly pre-registered domains can be purchased for small amounts ($200 or less is common).
- Drawing Programs Digital drawing and painting can be acheived in the expensive and very sophisticated Painter, or the free and simpler ArtRage. There are numerous simple sketching and drawing programs like FlySketch most of which are free or very cheap. According to About the top 10 programs designed specifically for artistic creative expression are: (1) Painter (Windows and Macintosh), (2) ArtRage (Windows and Macintosh), (3) Painter Essentials (Windows and Macintosh), (4) Expression (Windows), (5) SketchBook Pro (for tablet PC - Windows and Macintosh), (6) Project Dogwaffle (Windows), (7) Deleter CGillust (anime and manga - Windows), (8) Twisted Brush (Windows), (9) PhotoArtMaster (Windows), (10) Studio Artist (Macintosh). The About list and further information can be found here.
- Eyedropper Tool An easy way to select a color by clicking the tool cursor on a color you want to set the foreground color. That color is then available to other tools like the brush tool for painting.
- Fill The area inside an object that gets colored.
- Filters A menu item in graphics programs that allows preset or configurable actions to be applied to an image. This can include changinging colors, distortions, texturizing, sharpening and blurring, and so on. They are named after the glass filters which were screwed onto the lens of cameras in the old days but digital filters extend the creative possibilities of those simple filters hugely and can do things impossible in the old way.
- Flash (1) A program from Adobe for creating animations for web sites. (2) A term used generically for animations for web sites created in various programs other than Adobe Flash. Swish is a popular alternative that is well liked because it is simpler to use than Adobe Flash and so is attractive to the casual user. (3) A generic term for animations on web sites.
- Flash Sites A dynamic web site in which animation is a significant element in the presentation of information and images. Flash sites tend to look good to human viewers but tend to do poorly in search engine page rankings and so are not an advisable choice generally. The way to increase traffic to a flash site is to pay for clicks through online advertising (eg Google Adwords) or to develop an extensive network of other web sites linking to yours. Flash web site templates are easily found on the web. Flash web sites require expertise in flash software (Swish is an easier to use option than Adobe Flash).
- Forms A field or series of fields that can be inserted into a web page to enable a standardized way of contacting or sending messages to the web master or owner of a web site. Forms are often based on the script from Matt's Script Archive found here (or variations or clones of it) and is a generic script that converts information such as name, phone number, email address, and message into an e-mail which gets sent without the sender seeing the e-mail address.
- Fractals The first true computer art form. Fractal art would not have been possible before the computer becuse it relies on intense number crunching to create the shapes. It was first developed in 1975 by Benoît Mandelbrot to describe patterns that repeat infinitely at any scale. Although it was soon relized that incredibly beautiful artworks could be created by starting with various mathematical parameters, Mandelbrot soon realized that fractal structure is an inherent characteristic of many natural systems such as cloud structure, the way plants branch, the way mountains mass, and so on. It is possible that we subconciously recognise this natural connection that we have grown up with and this is the reason we find fractals so beautiful and fascinating. Although he did not understand the concept of fractals in computer terms, Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by fractal based shapes in the natural world, especially the spiral shapes found in seashells, and Leonardo is possibly the first significant artist to make a kind of fractal based art (he applied his observations the seashell structure to staircases he designed). However with the computer it is now possible to create original fractal patterns rather than just observing nature.
- Frames A method of organizing a web page so that two or more HTML files are displayed on the one page, although they may have separate scrolling and back/forward controls. Frames became popular a few years ago at the peak of the Netscape era and web developers liked them because it was flexible and generally reduced the amount of work necessary in order to display some information on multiple pages while changing other information. It is a technique with many difficulties. A very clever designer can actually get a lot of benefit from the use of frames, but most create more problems than they solve. In most cases users of the web site do not like the frame structure, and worse, search engines do not like them as a general rule, and a web site can get poor page rankings due to the use of the frames. This is partially because the various files end up sharing one URL, and that URL is that of the NOFRAMES file. Unless the most relevant information is in the NOFRAMES file the web crawlers will generally ignore it because they cannot index it by independent URL.
- FTP File Transfer Protocal. The second most used protocal on the Internet after HTTP. It is a means of transferring files from computer to computer. It is the most common way that files for web pages are uploaded to a server. There are various FTP programs available for all major platforms, but these are not absolutely necessary as transferring the files can be achieved directly. An easy way of uploading files is usually found within the file manager of the control panels supplied by web hosts.
- GIF Graphic Interchange Format. An image compression format developed by CompuServe in 1987 when computers were able to display a limited range of colors. GIF is therefore limited to a maximum of 256 colors. This, plus a patent dispute in the mid 1990's led to the development of the PNG format. PNG, however has never replaced GIF for the simple reason that GIF is well suited to the simple images used in banner advertising and GIF remains the most common format for that purpose. GIF is best suited to images that have areas of the same color with a hard edge. It is less suitable for continuous tone images, although it can give good results in many contexts. All images on this web site are GIF images as the dithered look of the images suits my artistic vision for the site, and the small sizes of the files is practical. GIF supports animation.
- GIF vs JPEG See JPEG vs GIF
- Gradient Tool Makes a gradation of color from one color through a gradual progression of tones to another color. The gradation can be applied across a single selection or across multiple selections.
- Graphic Novel Commonly called comic books, the term graphic novel encompasses the wider range of story telling using drawings, either in color or black and white, with small amounts of text. Although many people associate comics with childrens entertainment, the graphic novel can often be quite serious in content and is often aimed at an adult audience. The first graphic novel was made by the Japanese artist Hokusai in 1814. In Japan a black and white form of the graphic novel is usually called manga, and is immensely popular as an art form, much more so than in Western countries, and especially since the introduction of the Internet it has become very influential on Western graphic novelists.
- Hentai A Japanese slang word which means sexually perverted which has gained international usage and is applied to anime, manga, and Japanese computer games that are sexually explicit. Because the sexually graphic forms of anime, manga and Japanese computer games have become common in the West, Westerners often erroneously use the term Hentai to mean all anime, manga and Japanese computer games. In Japan, however Hentai represents only a small portion of anime, manga, and computer games, and the word is used only for the sexually explicit material.
- Hexadecimal (1) Any numbering system that uses a base of 16. This can be written in a form that uses the numerals 0 - 9 together with the letters a - f. The hexadecimal system was first used in computing in 1963 by IBM. It has certain advantages because in the binary world of the computer a byte does not fit as easily with a base 10 counting system. Wikipedia gives the example of the number which is described as 79 in our every day base 10 counting system, is represented in binary as 01001111 and in hexadecimal as 4F. (2) Hexadecimal numbering is commonly used in web design to describe colors so that a browser can interpret the information in the source code and represent it on a monitor as the correct color. Originally the web palette was restricted to 256 colors with each described in hexadecimal by a hash (#) followed by 6 letters and numbers. Thus black is #000000 and azure blue is #007FFF.
- Hex Values The representation of a color in the hexadecimal system. Originally limited to a small number of so called web safe colors now the number of possible colors is huge and limited only by the ability of monitors to display a full range of colors, which, while huge is less than the abilities oif the human eye to distinguish different colors. Swatches of colors are displayed in lists together with the hexadecimal description so that colors can be entered directly into HTML. Examples of colors with hex values are white #FFFFFF, mauve #E0B0FF, yellow is #FFFF00 and cobalt blue is #0047AB.
- Home Page The introductory or first page on a web site. Entering the domain name of a web site would normally bring up the home page because by convention the file name of the home page has the file name "index.html". Browsers by default load the index file first. The home page contains the introductory information for the site and has links or menu buttons to other pages on the site. Many social networking web sites
offer registered members a page to place their personal information.
This is often referred to as someone's "home page" even though it is
not the home page of the entire web site - although it does serve a similar function in that it introduces the person and may well contain links to other information about the person.
- HTML HyperText Markup Language. The code which encapsulates the standard descriptors of the display characteristics of a web page so that a browser can determine the appropriate way to present the page to the viewer. As a human the layout of a page and which bit is a header and which bit is an image seems obvious but machines are not so smart, and require this HTML code to understand what order the data goes in and where it is placed within the page. It is possible to design a web page without using any HTML code directly by using a WYSIWYG editor, but all designers do a better job and are able to be more adventurous if they familiarize themselves with some basic HTML. HTML is like mathematics. It is logical and not so difficult if approached step by step, but like maths it seems to scare many people. There are easy to follow HTML In Easy Steps books available in most large book stores that can be helpful. It is usually not essential to learn it all at once, instead start with basics like how to wrte a hyperlink in HTML then slowly learn a new bit of code as the need arises. That way it is less intimidating, and can be fun.
- Hyperlinks A piece of text (usually a distinct color or underlined or both), or an image, or a button, which when clicked on will either move the open window to a new part of the same page, or, more commonly, open a new web page in a new window. This new web page may be another file within the same web site or it may be a file in an external web site. Hyperlinks are simple HTML code and were developed by Tim Berners-Lee when he invented the World Wide Web in 1992. Hyperlinks are fundamental to the operation of the Internet because without them navigation (even within a web site) would require finding out what the URL is for every file and then entering it in the URL bar. The Internet would still be useful (as it was before the WWW) but would probably be limited to use by geeks as it was before WWW, and the great PC revolution would not have happened as it has.
- Index.html By default all web browsers look for the home page to go to first on a web site unless they are directed to a particular different page. The way they can tell which page is the home page is that by convention it always has a file name that is index.html or it is sometimes shortened to index.htm
- Inspiration One of the best creative tools for all artist's. It is a mind mapping software that has several different ways of formatting thoughts to help visually work through, and structure new ideas. Highly recommended for all artist's.
- Interlacing A method for saving a GIF or JPEG image on a web site in which the image starts to display before it is fully downloaded. When a non-interlaced image downloads the browser displays a placeholder in place of the image and the image appears fully focussed but incrementally from top to bottom. In the case of an interlaced image, it will appear in its entirety, but as if out of focus, and come progressively into focus as more data downloads. It gives the viewer the impression that the image is downloading faster but in fact it takes the same time to display the fully focussed image whether interlaced or not. Never the less it has the advantage of reducing frustration from visitors to web pages and reduces the incidence of visitors clicking through to another site. An interlaced JPEG is called a progressive JPEG. Interlacing when saving as GIF and progressive when saving as JPEG are options when saving for web in PhotoShop and similar graphics programs. File sizes are a little larger than non-interlaced and non-progressive saved images. The biggest difference, however, lies in the order that the file data is stored and the order in which it downloads. Very small file sizes (about 6KB or smaller) should not be interlaced but as the file size increases it has increasingly clearer advantages.
- Interpolation Occurs when images are resized or distorted (including rotation and sharpening). The graphics program needs to remap the image by estimating the values at new pixels based on the known information. It is always an approximation and so always involves some loss of quality, although this varies depending on many factors including the complexity of the image. Interpolation leads to the well known image defects like jaggies, blurring and edge halo. These defects can be reduced by using technoiques such as anti-aliasing and in PhotoShop it is possible to use a plug-in such as Genuine Fractals which significantly improves interpolated images.
- IP Internet Protocal. An internet address expressed as a series of numbers, and dots. This is the form of address that is easily read by computers which is why it is used but humans have difficulty remembering the long numbers and make many mistakes entering them so for human usage domain names are the visible part of a web address. Domain names are purchased but IP addresses are awarded (and often shared) by your web host. There may be times it is desireable to have a static IP which is not shared. This would normally attract an anual fee. As IP addresses are running out on the Internet, a new IP is being introduced which is more complex and includes letters as well as numbers.
- Jaggies Jagged edges around hard edged objects that are not anti-aliased.
- JPEG An image compression format. The term stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group who were the people who developed it between 1986 and 1994. It is most suited to continuous tone photographs but less suited to more graphic images for which GIF and PNG are more suited. JPEG usually applies the same degree of compression over an entire image, but some programs such as FireWorks are able to apply selective JPEG in which different parts of the image are compressed differently so that less important areas can be compressed more than some other areas where less compression produces better quality. By selectively compressing image files canbe made very small.
- JPEG vs GIF Different compression formats exist for various reasons. None are perfect for every situation. GIF was a very early format which was considered state of the art for all images back in 1987, but on modern computers its limitation of 256 colors makes it less suitable for continuous tone photographs for which JPEG is well suited. The limitation of 256 colors, however, does have advantages in certain situations, especially if an image is a line drawing or contains large areas of continuous single color with sharp edges. In these cases GIF produces a better quality image with smaller file sizes. The sort of art found in banner advertising usually fits this criteria as do many artist's drawings. On the other hand most photographs and images of paintings with softly blended colors will give a better quality image with smaller file size in JPEG.
- Kerning The adjustment of the spacing between text characters.
- Keywords Words used in web design. The words that are relevant to the subject of your site and that are likely to be part of the search questions that you want to focus on and optimize your site to be relevant to. Some keywords are better than others. The keyword art is not necessarily a good one because millions of websites are competing as art sites and the word is too general. Be specific to the type of art you do and it is easier to get noticed. Keywords were once simple lists of words and search engine spiders were designed to primarily look for them. Since the arrival of Google the search algorithms are far more sophisticated and keywords need greater thought. That is because Google largely ignores the lists of keywords placed in the code under "keywords". Instead keywords are useful only due to their occurance as a part of the text and in the titles of the pages (yes, the title above the URL bar should use some keywords). It is far better to optimize for 2 to 4 keywords per page than to try to use too many keywords. It is also better to use different keywords for different pages rather than pasting the same list on all pages. Keywords should ideally represent about 5% of your text as a maximum. Overuse of keywords is regarded by the search engines as spamming and has a bad effect on page rankings. Image alt and title tags should also contain a sprinkling of your keywords
- Layers The single most important feature in any graphics program. Layers enable the artist to digitally separate parts of an artwork. It is the digital equivalent of doing parts of a painting of separate sheets of transparent plastic. Work on one layer may be edited or deleted without affecting the work on other layers. Layers may be re-ordered and merged with other layers at will.
- Ligature A combination of two or more letters to form a single character. This is most commonly done for the combinations fi and fl because in many fonts the serifs and the dots on the i tend to join together. Ligature ensures that the text is easily readible. Before the computer oe and ae were common forms of ligature in old time hand typesetting but are unnecessary in computer programs. Languages other than English often have greater need for ligature, Arabic is a notable example.
- Link Farming The practice of paying a fee to get thousands of other web sites to link to you. It is common to receive spam from someone offering to increase your web traffic. This practice is seen by the search engines as dihonest as it artificially distorts page rankings. Whenever they discover the practice the participating web sites are often removed from all search results or seriously demoted. While tempting, and easy to do, joining a link farm is not advisable and can potentially seriously damage your search engine results in the long term. A German car company was caught indulging in this kind of activity by Google a few months ago and had its web site removed from Google results, so even big companies can suffer from this and get caught. They may lose millions in sales, but be able to afford to establish a new web site. Can you afford that, plus the lost time involved? Most likely the search engines won't tell you you have been demoted, you will just be left wondering why you aren't getting any visitors to your site.
- Magic Wand A selection tool that can be a time saver when selecting areas of color that are similar. Just click on a color and the entire area defined by that color will be selected. This works better in some situations than others. Areas of flat color that have backgrounds in a contrasting color work best, but complex shapes against backgrounds of a similar color can be more problematic.
- Manga Japanese comic books (or graphic novels) in black and white. The first manga art was made by Hokusai in 1814. Many Westerners confuse manga with anime, but while they are related and often done by the same artist's, they are distinctly different art forms.
- Mangaka A manga artist. The mangaka will often work with a gensaku-sha who creates a story for the mangaka to illustrate.
- Meta Tags
- Morphing An animation and video term in which an object changes seamlessly into another object, most commonly a face becoming another, different, face. Although the effect was simulated in various ways in film for many years, it is only since the introduction of computer graphics that it has become realistic and seamless. Pioneering examples are Willow in 1988 followed by Indiana Jones, Michael Jackson's Black and White, Terminator 2 and Star Trek VI. The first morphing software was Morph for the Apple Macintosh and now there are several morphing programs available.
- Oekaki A digital artform used primarily by anime artists in Japan to exchange creative ideas. Oekaki is a message board system in which images can be drawn and animated in real time online. The viewer is often able to watch the lines being drawn as if by an invisible person. Collaborative artworks in which more than one artist participates in the creation of the artwork are common. Many Oekaki sites can be accessed via Oekaki Central. This is an exciting new artform and highly recommended, however, be aware that many Oekaki sites are entirely in Japanese or have confusing Japanese tranlations. Oekaki Central is in good English and is a great starting point. It has an excellent FAQ page, chat rooms, and encourages high standards.
- Onion Skinning An animation technique named due to the old time method of making drawings on very thin paper called onion skin. Today the technique is done in a animation graphics program in which the various stages of an action in 2D animation are visible allowing the in-between stages of the action to be drawn.
- Otaku A slag term, usually derisive, in Japan for someone who is obssessively involved in an hobby, but it is mostly aimed at those involved in anime, manga, and hentai. It was coined first in 1983 but came into common usage in 1989 when it was applied to a serial killer who was obsessed with pornographic manga and anime. It was defined in the 1996 novel Idoru as 'pathological-techno-fetishist-with-social-deficit'. In the West it is often translated as "geek" but many Japanese can find this an insulting translation. Otaku has become a distict sub-culture within the manga and anime world characterized by fans who in the West would be regarded as "on the edge". These Otaku often proudly take on the term as a badge of honor, or in a humorous manner.
- Paint Bucket Tool Also called a fill tool. It can apply the foreground color to all pixels of a related color.
- Painting Programs Digital painting can be acheived in the expensive and very sophisticated Painter, or the free and simpler ArtRage. There are numerous simple sketching and drawing programs like FlySketch most of which are free or very cheap. According to About the top 10 programs designed specifically for artistic creative expression are: (1) Painter (Windows and Macintosh), (2) ArtRage (Windows and Macintosh), (3) Painter Essentials (Windows and Macintosh), (4) Expression (Windows), (5) SketchBook Pro (for tablet PC - Windows and Macintosh), (6) Project Dogwaffle (Windows), (7) Deleter CGillust (anime and manga - Windows), (8) Twisted Brush (Windows), (9) PhotoArtMaster (Windows), (10) Studio Artist (Macintosh). The About list and further information can be found here.
- Palette (1) The range of colors that is available, often displayed as swatches. (2) Small panels that display various functions and attributes in a graphics program such as the layers palette. These palettes can be moved, docked, and hidden to suit the work being done.
- Paths In a graphics program the paths are an outline which is either closed (encloses an area that can be filled) or open. A straight line of finite length is an open path. A path can be stroked to give it a thick appearance. In a bitmap image a path that clips off part of an image is called a clipping path.
- PICT A graphics metafile format for the Macintosh computer. It was introduced in 1984 but dropped with the introduction of OS X which uses PDF as its metafile format. Even so PICT remains supported and is widely used by Macintosh programs to the present day.
- Pixel Art A digital artform in which the image is created with individual pixels. Early personal computers and many mobile phones use images that are pixel art, and some mobile phones allow the user to make small pixel art images within the phone. Images range from simple emoticons to graphics for games as found ion the Nintendo DS. Pixel art purists like the retro look of the simpler imagery that is reminiscent of old computers. It is still a necessary art form so long as there are devices with low resolution screens. A pixel art canvas consists of a grid representing the pixels. A pen tool gives each pixel a color. Pixel art is always small because it would take too long to fill in all the pixels for a large image.
- PNG Portable Network Graphics. A lossless bitmap image compression format. While PNG (pronounced either "ping" or "pee-en-gee") is officially portable network graphics, unofficially it stands for PNG Not GIF. In the mid 1990's it became apparent that GIF was very limited due to the restriction to 256 colors, and, worse in many eyes, it was subject to a patent. PNG was developed as a replacement but has never replaced GIF due to the ability of GIF to handle animation which is important to the advertising industry. PNG formatted images are however supported by major programs and is very popular due to its ability to reduce file sizes while maximizing image quality.
- Progressive JPEG See Interlacing.
- Quicktime Multimedia format and player developed by Apple but available for Windows as well as OS X. It is popular and widely used.
- Raster Graphics In a raster image (also called a bitmap image) every pixel is described by color and mapped in a grid pattern. This has the advantage of making it easy to create a continuous tone image with smooth graduations between colors but it has two primary disadvantages. Firstly the file sizes can be large, and, secondly, it is not possible to scale up the image without losing quality. For these reasons bitmap (raster) images are most common in small formats like on web sites, and for images used in advertising and similar industries, where images may need to be printed billboard size as well as magazine size vector graphics are preferred to raster graphics in many cases.
- Search Engine Optimization The practice of increasing traffic to a web site by manipulating the structure of the website as well as its content. Disreputable people offer external means of increasing web traffic such as link farming under the description search engine optimization but such methods are dishonest as they are considered as spam methods by the search engines and likely to result in the web site being demoted in the rankings. True optimization involves refining the structure of the web site to better match relevant search terms, making the site easier for the search engines to spider, developing legitimate linking strategies, correcting coding errors, and rewriting content to improve the use of keywords. Search engine optimization should be an on going process of continual fine tuning of a web site. Although it is possible to buy SEO software that can identify broken links and identify other problems, all aspects of search engine optimization can be done by hand at no cost. The most difficult thing is probably gaining new links into a site. Every web master should have a strategy of adding at least one new link into their site every month. This sort of activity benefits rankings enormously. Developing a site map for a web site is another straight forward way of helping improve a site as it makes it easier for the search engines to spider your entire site. In the end the most important factor of all is quality content, especially text content. Search engines love good and relevant text, good titles, and lots of inbound links. They dislike broken links, bad site navigation, and unfocussed or irrelevant text. Images are not really seen by the search engine spiders, so contribute little to improving rankings, but worse, they can reduce rankings if they are not accompanied by good text. Keywords are still important, but each page should be optimized for only 2 to 4 keywords (most people try to use too many keywords. A different set of keywords can be used on different pages.
- Selection An area bounded by a line consisting of moving dashed lines. This constrains any edit to the area selected. Selections can be made by a variety of tools such as marquee's lasso, magic wand and so on with variations between different graphics programs. PhotoShop is the program that probably has the widest range of section tools.
- Selective JPEG Some programs such as FireWorks can do this neat trick. A lasso is used to define an important area that needs to be at the highest quality, and then by using a mask that area can be compressed at a higher quality JPEG setting than the rest of the image. Usually the entire image is compressed to the quality setting appropriate for the most important part of the image, but in selective JPEG the less important areas can be saved at a much lower quality setting thus reducing the overall file size considerably.
- SEO See Search Engine Optimization.
- Source Code The HTML that instructs a browser how to format a web page. The source code is normally invisible to the web surfer but can be seen by using the appropriate menu item to view the page source.
- Spam The digital equivalent of junk mail. Unfortunately the efficiency of computers means that spam can be more of a problem that traditional junk mail. There is a fine line between legitimate promotion of your activities using e-mail, and spam. This can be an issue for the artist promoting an exhibition. Some web hosts have anti spam strategies that include cancelling your account if you spam, and the definition of spam can be as little as 25 identical e-mails sent. Be aware of your web hosts spam policy and use creativity in Internet based promotion of your artwork. Varying e-mails and only sending to recipients who you know will welcome your message will enable you to market yourself without adding to spam problems for others as well as yourself.
- Spider Also called a web crawler, this is a program operated by search engines which examines web pages and determines how well the page matches criteria such as relevance to search terms, popularity (measured by examining inbound links) and other factors that determine page ranking.
- Splash Page A flash based page that usually includes music and animation as an attention seeking intoduction to a web site. They are hugely popular among the public as they think their web site looks more professional or more cool with a splash page. Unfortunately splash pages have a number of problems regarding search engine rankings. The search engines use web crawlers to rank web sites but these web crawlers (also called spiders) are blind to images and prefer to look for relevant text. Thus the splashy images that humans are attracted to are not liked by these web crawlers. It is therefore more difficult to get a good search engine ranking with a splash page. Ways to get around this include creating a site map in the web site with a link to it on the splash page, and the best solution of all, which is to get lots of web sites to link to your web sites. These incoming links will help overcome the limitations of the splash page.
- Stroke Refers to an outline and the editing of it. It may be made thicker or thinner, or given a color for example. It is a term that is often associated with the term "fill" as as the stroke may well need a color fill.
- Stylus The pen-like tool that is used with a tablet for drawing and painting. Pressure and angle of stylus to the pressure sensitive surface give variety to the marks made on the computer screen in a manner reminiscent of real world drawing and painting implements.
- Tables A means of placing objects and text precisely on a web page. The original purpose was for organising data into rows and columns but web designers soon discovered that tables could just as easily control the positioning of images and to align text with images, consequently tables are a very common method for creating the look of a web page.
- Tags Tags are special keywords which are attached to web page content especially in web 2.0 and are specially valuable for local search. Blogs use tags (often called categories) as a navigational aid, but tags can also be useful in helping search engines index a web site. Clever use of tags can help with the interaction with site visitors by appealing to the preferences or language of your target audience.
- Target The destination anchor of a link within a document, and usually simply called an anchor. In a WYSIWYG editor the anchor icon is used to create the targets. These anchors make it easy for web visitors to navigate to specific information within a page.
- Template A ready made web page format which is then edited to replace filler content with the actual content required by the web site owner. They can save considerable time in creating a web site and can enable less experienced designers to get a professional looking web site live on the web with a minimum of knowledge of how to create the structure of a web site. It also has the advantage of enabling the designer to see the overall look of the site at the beginning and to choose from different styles. This can make it easier for a designer to show a client a potential design for approval before starting work on the actual site. Clients often feel comfortable being able to visualize a format by choosing between ready made designs. Templates are available for all types of web sites from simple HTML sites to flash based sites and range in price from free to more than a hundred dollars. Free templates have many disadvantages. They generally are the least interesting to look at, have only the most basic of structure, and are most likely to be found as designs used by thousands of other web sites. It is best to invest in a good quality template that is supplied by a company that offers solid support for their product. For a premium price some designs can be purchased for exclusive usage, although most are sold to many clients. This can lead to a generic look about some sites, especially where the user makes a minimum of edits. All aspects of a template can be edited, however, and extensive editing can be done to put a very individual stamp on a web site. While this would seem to go against the idea of a template many designers find the starting point of the template a convenient way to start. Others will often create a totally original design the save it as a template for various web sites they might make in future with minor changes of color and fonts etc each variant is still then an original by that designer and yet the designer is able to save a lot of work and time in this way.
- Thumbnails Small images displayed on a web page that when clicked cause a full size version of the same image to appear, normally in a pop up window. This method of displaying thumbnails enables the page to download faster while still allowing the viewer to see the image content although in preview form.
- TIFF Tagged Image File Format. An industry wide standard format for raster (bitmap) images first developed in the 1980's by Aldus with assistance from Microsoft, and is now controlled by Adobe. Although it was always intended to be a universal standard there are now many variants available and used. TIFF is the native file format used on the Mac OS X platform. It is supported by all major graphics programs. It is well liked for its flexibility and extensibility. It supports both uncompressed and compressed files. Unlike JPEG, it allows re-editing of files without suffering compression loss.
- Title The title of a web page is poorly understood. It is not the name of the web page in big or colorful letters that is the obvious heading to any page. It is the title words above the URL bar. It is very important to make good titles that include some of your keywords in order to get a good page ranking in Google.
- Tweening Short for in-betweening. It is an animation term for the frames which are created between the key frames. In hand painted animation the senior animator draws the key cells that indicate changes of motion and then the assistants draw the in-between cells which create the illusion of smooth action. In software animation programs the program is often able to create the in-between frames according to the parameters set by the animator.
- Vector Graphics The representation of an image using mathematically based objects such as lines, curves, points, and polygons. Vector graphics started in the 1950's because computing power was insufficient to deal with describing an entire bitmap (raster) image. It was convenient for describing such things as trajectories for aero-space applications. In the 1970's video games such as Asteroids used simple vector-like images. In 1986 Adobe developed a drawing program for the Apple Macintosh called Illustrator. It was primitive compared to today's vector graphics programs (including the current Adobe Illustrator) and was a bizarre way of drawing at first glance. Commercial illustrators, however, soon discovered that it was easy to learn and had some great advantages especially in regard to scaling artwork. Because a vector artwork is described mathematically by the computer program it is able to produce an artwork at say 10cm x 15cm and scale it up to 1,000cm x 1,500cm without any loss of quality (the edges stay sharp) This is hugely important in advertising where an image may need to be printed in a magazine as well as on a highway billboard. Vector graphics programs like Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW have become the drawing programs of choice in much of the design industry.
- WAV The most common lossless audio file format for the Windows platform.
- Wrap Text Also called word wrapping this feature allows text to surround an image, important for embedding images within a page of text.
- WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get
A type of HTML editor in which the code is generally invisible and the
format of a web page is easier to see. This enables the designer to
visualize a web page as it is being made. The code is generated
automatically as the designer works. Very experienced designers often
prefer to write code directly as this leads to better quality code than
the automatically generated version. An example of a WYSIWYG editor is