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Three-Dimensional Glossary

Source: Understanding Three Dimensions by Jonathan Block and Jerry Leisure
(©1987 by Prentice-Hall, Inc.) ISBN: 0-13-937202-4


Actual process: the means by which an object is constructed, or the activity taking place in the piece.

Alignment: arrangement along an axis.

Amorphous: without definite form; lacking in structure.

Axis: a line, real or imagined (explicit or implicit), around which the material that composes an object appears to be organized.

Cantilever: an element which projects horizontally into space, supported at only one end.

Composition: the arrangement or structuring of various elements.

Contour: the outline of an object.

Depiction: a representation

Direction: the line (explicit or implicit) along which an object or element seems to be pointing or moving.

Disparate: separate, distinct, dissimilar.

Explicit form: matter occupying space.

Explicit line: matter aligned upon an axis.

Explicit plane: matter distributed upon a surface.

Explicit volume: matter occupying space.

Form: three-dimensional object.

Gesture: the expressive and evocative qualities that result from the arrangement of forms in space.

Grouping: the perceptual gathering of several elements.

Ideation: the process of coming up with ideas.

Illusion: appearance which is contrary to fact.

Ilusionistic texture: surface which appears to have a texture that it does not have physically—as in wallpaper printed to look like bricks.

Implicit form: space—not occupied by matter—which is perceived as
coherent as a result of the interaction of surrounding elements of form.

Implicit line: space aligned along an axis as a result of the interaction of surrounding elements of form—usually the result of the interaction of points.

Implicit plane: space aligned along a surface as a result of the interaction of surrounding elements of form—usually the result of the interaction of lines.

Implicit volume: space—not occupied by matter—sensed as coherent and resulting from the interaction of surrounding elements of form—usually planes.

Irregular shape: a shape lacking uniformity, such as a shape with varying angularity.

Juxtaposition: adjacent placement of visual elements.

Line: that element of form which is primarily understood in terms of its length.

Maquette: a model (at small scale) for a larger sculpture.

Mass: the perceived weight or density of an object.

Matte finish: an opaque, nonreflective surface with a relatively smooth texture.

Model (noun): a three-dimensional sketch.

Model (verb): to manipulate and form a plastic material such as clay.

Moderate: to limit or restrain.

Modifier: something which changes the perceptual effect of form in space.

Modulation: smooth transition or change.

Negative shape: in two-dimensional design, an area surrounded by other activity which creates a sense of closure, giving the shape coherence.

Opaque: having the property of blocking light.

Organic: having shape or form referential to biological structures, often refers to a shape or form that has structure without angularity.

Patina: a surface composed of a thin film of semitransparent variegated color, which can often convey a sense of age or use.

Perceived movement: sensed movement in an object which is actually static.

Plane: that element of form which can be described in two dimensions, predominantly characterized by surface.

Positive shape: in two-dimensional design, those elements which are actually represented, by contrast in color or value.

Potential energy: the result of arranging form in such a way as to suggest a possibility of falling or other movement.

Primary axis: the major axis of a form or object; for example, the spine might be thought of as the primary axis of the human skeleton.

Radiation: the quality of form which activates an envelope of space around it.

Referential: having the property of resemblance to an identifiable object.

Reflectivity: the quality of surface which turns light back into space, ranging from low (as in a matte surface) to high (as in a mirror).

Regular shape: a shape with uniform properties that conform to certain prescribed rules; for example, a square must have four equal sides and 90 degree angles.

Rhythm: the quality of form which results from regular intervals or repetitions.

Scale: size relative to other elements within or outside of an object.

Selective vision: the phenomenon of “filtering” visual events which do not relate directly to what the viewer is looking at.

Sketch: a preliminary drawing or model used to explore possibilities for a finished object.

Spatial orientation: the relationship of an object to the ground plane and to other objects in its vicinity.

Static: without movement.

Surface: the planar areas of an object which are exposed to the viewer.

Textural field: a broad area with a unified texture.

Texture: the tactile aspect of surface.

Translucent: semitransparent; able to pass diffuse light.

Transparency: the quality of material which describes its ability to allow light to pass through it.

Unifier: that which allows the viewer to visually or conceptually connect or group various components of an object.

Visual density: perceived or apparent mass.

Volume: defined or coherent space.

Working drawing: a detailed sketch used to direct the making of an object.