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medium – binds particles of pigment together, e.g. oil, acrylic or tempera, to make paint. The type of medium, and ratio of medium to pigment, have an impact on the effects that can be achieved with the paint

support – surface an artwork has been made on, e.g. canvas or board

canvas – common painting support. It consists of strong unbleached cloth, which is normally coated with gesso (a white mineral) before being painted on

oil – paint made by mixing pigment with oil. Oil paint dries slowly, and allows artists to achieve a broader and more detailed application of paint, which enables a wide range of optical effects to be achieved. It was first used in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Northern Europe, before becoming more widely used in the fifteenth century

acrylic – paint containing pigment combined with acrylic polymer emulsion. First used in the 1950s, it is fairly fast-drying and is popular with artists today

tempera – paint made by combining pigment with a medium, such as egg, glue, honey, water, milk and a variety of plant gums. Tempera most often refers to egg tempera

egg tempera – paint made combining pigment with egg yolk. Egg tempera has been used since Antiquity and was commonly used in early Italian painting, before oil paint became widely used

impasto – the process or technique of laying on paint or pigment thickly so that it stands out from a surface 


terracotta  a type of fired clay, typically of a brownish-red colour and unglazed, used as an ornamental building material and in modelling (Italian, 'baked clay')

Drawing & watercolour

chalk  ancient natural chalks were mineral substances, which, after being mined from the earth were cut with a saw or knife into a suitable shape. The most common colours were black, red and white. Fabricated chalk is made by mixing pigments with a binder to make a paste, which is then rolled into a stick and dried

charcoal – a drawing stick obtained by carbonising wood, bone, or other organic matter in an air-tight chamber. Charcoal is greyer than black chalk and is often used for underdrawing because it is easily erasable

gouache – also known as bodycolour. A method of painting using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a binder

metalpoint – a metal stylus of lead, silver, copper or gold. The artist would draw upon an abrasive surface – usually paper prepared with a slightly coloured wash – producing a faint grey line. Silverpoint achieved great popularity with fifteenth-century Italian and Flemish artists as Filippo Lippi and Jan van Eyck. The silverpoint lost favour in the seventeenth century but was revived by eighteenth-century miniaturists and was still occasionally used by modern artists, most notably by Pablo Picasso and Ivan Albright, though in a manner that defied the convention for precision established early on

pastel – a crayon made of powdered pigments bound with gum or resin. It is thought that Leonardo da Vinci was the first Italian artist to use fabricated pastels in his drawings, an experimental technique that he learnt from the French artist Jean Perréal around 1495–1499

wash – diluted ink applied with a brush. Commonly used to indicate the modelling of form or intensity of light

watercolour – paint made of finely ground dry pigment, suspended in water with gum arabic as a binder. When the water evaporates, the binder fixes the pigment to the support. Watercolour was used long before the development in the 1750s of the British watercolour tradition. In medieval times, artists illustrated the vellum pages of hand-written books with brightly coloured paintings in watercolour


drypoint – the simplest of the intaglio processes. The artist scratches the lines directly into the copper plate with the needle, a sharp metal point. The principal difference between engraving and drypoint is that in engraving the metal is dug out of the lines and any burr on the plate surface is scraped before printing, whereas in drypoint it is simply thrown to the side and left on the plate. The drypoint needle allows only a very shallow line that quickly wears down

Chine-collé – printmaking technique in which the image is transferred onto a surface that is bonded to a heavier support in the printing process. This allows the printmaker to print on a much more delicate surface, such as Japanese paper or linen, that pulls finer details off the plate. It can also provide a background colour behind the image that is different from the surrounding backing sheet

engraving – the principal and oldest intaglio process. The artist, using a tool called a burin, incises through the metal plate to create a drawing. Engraving is a highly skilled technique and any mistake can be repaired only by knocking up the copper from the back of the plate and smoothing down the surface before recutting the line

etching – one of the most common intaglio methods. A metal plate – usually copper – is coated with an acid-resistant ground through which the artist draws with a tool to expose the metal. Finally, the plate is wiped clean, inked and printed

lithograph – a print realised by printing from a flat surface – originally stone, hence the term 'lithography' which means 'stone drawing' – treated so as to repel the ink except where it is required for printing

mezzotint – the only printmaking process which works from dark to light. A copper plate is 'grounded', worked with a spiked tool (rocker) by scraping down a roughened plate. It became a very popular technique for its suitability for reproducing portraits

monotype – a print obtained with a metal plate, painted with ink by an artist and printed onto paper. It will only produce one strong and one weak impression

plate – a sheet of metal, plastic, or other material bearing an image of type or illustrations from which multiple copies are printed

photogravure – an image produced from a photographic negative transferred to a metal plate and etched in. Photogravure prints have warm blacks and subtle shades of grey

screenprint – a variety of stencil printing. A fine-mesh screen, fixed onto a rectangular frame and inker over its upper side is laid directly on top of a sheet of paper. The ink is squeezed through the mesh with a rubber blade so that the ink transfers to the paper. The screen is usually made of silk, cotton, nylon or a metal mesh

woodcut – the most ancient relief printing process. The printing block is made of wood, taken from a plank of soft wood sawn lengthwise along the grain. The artist's design can be either drawn directly on the block or on a sheet of paper that is then glued onto the block's surface. The block-cutter, using a tool similar to a penknife, cuts away the wood from the sides of the lines of the design. When finished, the image will appear as a network of lines standing in relief

wood-engraving – the design or picture is engraved into the mirror-smooth surface of a block of endgrain wood, often boxwood. The block is then inked (on its top surface) and printed onto paper. The cuts that were made into the wood, therefore, come out as the colour of the paper and the remaining top surface, which gets inked, as black