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Graphic Design Dictionary (250 terms)

Welcome to’s Graphic Design Dictionary (GDD). Here you have a complete resource designed to give you clarity in the world of graphic design. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re already a design whiz, here you’ll find terms and concepts that will interest you.

So whether you’re a student, a professional with years of experience or someone curious about graphic design, this glossary is your new best friend to understand the ins and outs of our discipline.

I hope you find this resource both informative and useful. Ready to dive into the language of design?


Affine Transformation

An operation that transforms a geometric figure while maintaining parallels and proportions, including rotation, scale and translation.

Aliasing and Anti-aliasing

Aliasing is the effect of edge aliasing. Anti-aliasing softens those edges by means of transition pixels.


Positioning of graphic elements in relation to a reference point in the design.

Alpha Compositing

Technique for combining images with different levels of opacity.

Alpha Transparency

An additional channel in an image that controls the level of transparency of each pixel.

Alt Text

Textual description of an image, used for accessibility and in situations where the image cannot be displayed.

Ambient Occlusion

Technique in 3D graphics to simulate how light interacts with surfaces in a closed environment.


A combination of letters or symbols to form an image or logo.

Anchor Point

A fixed point that controls the shape of a path in vector graphics.


A sequence of images or frames that create the illusion of motion.

Anisotropic Filtering

A technique in 3D graphics to enhance the clarity and detail of textures when viewed from oblique angles.


Comment or mark added to a design to communicate additional information.


Interior space in open characters such as “O” and “P.”


Space in design programs where you can create, edit and organize multiple layouts.

Aspect Ratio

Ratio between the width and height of an image or screen.



Element or layer behind the main content in a design.


Imaginary line on which the characters of a text block rest.

Batch Export

Process of saving multiple files or settings of a project at once.

Bézier Curve

Mathematical representation of an adjustable curve, defined by control points.

Bit Depth

Amount of color information stored in each pixel affects the range of colors that can be represented.

Bit Rate

Amount of data processed per unit time in an audio or video file, affects quality.


Graphics based on a grid of pixels, such as JPEG or PNG.

Blank Space

Content-free areas in a design that serve to balance elements and improve readability.

Bleed Margin

Extra space around the design that allows for imprecise cuts in the production of printed material.

Blending Mode

A setting that affects how layers or colors are combined in design software.


Technique to smooth or blur parts of an image for visual effects or to highlight other elements.

Body Text

The main part of the written content in a layout, as opposed to headlines or subheads.

Bokeh Effect

Artistic blurring of elements in the background of a photo to highlight the foreground subject.


Font style where the characters are thicker to emphasize or highlight text.

Brand Guidelines

A document that establishes guidelines for the use of elements of a brand’s identity.

Brand Identity

A set of visual and conceptual elements that define and differentiate a brand.


Creation and management of elements that form the visual and perceptual identity of a brand.


Document or conversation that establishes the objectives, needs and parameters of a design project.

Bullets and Numbers

Graphical or numeric markers used to highlight items in a list.

Bump Mapping

3D graphics technique that simulates textures and relief on flat surfaces through the use of bitmaps.



The art of hand lettering, focusing on style and form.


A work area in design programs where elements are placed and edited.


Clipart images that can be inserted into documents or designs. They are usually in the public domain or licensed for general use.

Clipping Area

Defined area in a design where outside elements will be cut out.

Clipping Mask

A tool that allows specific parts of an image or layer to be hidden or shown.


Color model used in color printing, consisting of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.

Color Balance

Adjustment of color tones in an image to achieve a more accurate or artistic representation.

Color Cast

A color tone that prevails in an image or design.

Color Channels

Divisions of color information in an image, commonly Red, Green and Blue (RGB) or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK).

Color Chart

A collection of color swatches used as a reference to ensure consistency in design and printing.

Color Correction

Adjustments to enhance or change the colors in an image or video.

Color Palette

Selected set of colors used in a design to maintain visual consistency.

Color Scheme

A predefined set of colors used in a design to ensure visual consistency.

Color Spaces

Mathematical models that represent a range of colors, such as RGB, CMYK or LAB.

Color Temperature

Measurement in degrees Kelvin that describes the hue of a light source, affects how colors are perceived in the image.


Organization and arrangement of visual elements in a design.


Reducing the size of a file, image or video to save space or speed up loading.


Difference in color or brightness between different parts of an image.

Convex Hull

A smaller envelope that can contain a set of points in two- or three-dimensional space.


Phenomenon in printing where the ink extends beyond the intended boundaries, also known as bleeding.


The top layer or display in an interface that contains controls or information.

Creative Commons License

License that allows the use, distribution and modification of creative works under certain conditions.


Cropping of an image to remove unwanted parts and focus on a specific section.

Crop Marks

Lines in a printed design that indicate where the paper should be cut.

Cubic Bézier

A type of Bézier curve defined by four points, used to model smooth shapes.

CUDA Cores

Processing units on NVIDIA graphics cards, used to accelerate computational operations.


Removal of non-visible objects in 3D graphics to improve performance.

Cut Line

A guide that indicates where the paper or material will be cut in the printing process, essential to ensure that the design prints as expected.


Curved, seamless background used in photography and video to create a boundless horizon.



Tools that change the shape of objects or meshes in 3D graphics.

Depth of Field

Range in an image where objects appear in focus, commonly used in photography.


Sign added to a letter to change its pronunciation or meaning, such as the tilde in “year”.


Process of simulating colors or tones that are not available in the palette by blending pixels.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

Measure of the resolution of an image in terms of how many dots of ink are printed in one linear inch.

Drop Cap

The initial letter of a paragraph or section that is larger and often more decorative than the rest of the text.


Image composed of two colors, generally used to simplify and reduce file size.

Dynamic Brush

A tool in design software that simulates the properties of a real brush, such as pressure and angle.


Embedded Font

Inclusion of a font within a document or PDF to ensure that text is displayed in the same way on different devices.


Symbol or insignia that represents an idea, organization or concept.

Export As

Function to save a file in a specific format, keeping the original intact.


A tool that allows you to select a specific color from an image for later use.



A small icon associated with a website, usually displayed in the browser tab.


Smoothing of edges of an object or selection for a smoother transition to the background.


Internal area of a shape or text, which can be colored or textured.


Rounded or decorative border on graphic elements or text.


Effect or adjustment applied to an image or layer to change its appearance.

Final Artwork

Final version of a design ready for production or printing.


Convert multiple layers into a single layer within a design project. Reduce file size and simplify editing.

Flatten Image

Converting all layers of an image into a single layer, similar to flattening but across the entire project.

Floating Element

An object or layer in a design that can be moved independently, without affecting other elements.

Focal Point

Area of a design that attracts the viewer’s attention, often used to emphasize key information or elements.


Adjustment of the clarity of an image or part of an image, opposite of blur.

Font Family

A set of fonts related in design and structure, including variants such as bold and italic.

Font Style

Variation within a typeface family, such as italic or bold.


An area at the bottom of a page that contains additional information such as page numbers or footnotes.


A complex geometric shape that is repeated at different scales, sometimes used in design and art.


Element in design that surrounds an object or area, often to focus attention.

Frame Rate

Number of frames or images displayed per second in an animation or video.



Use of game elements in non-game contexts, such as in interface design to increase user engagement.


Full range of colors that a device can capture, display or print.

Global Illumination

A 3D graphics technique that simulates how light interacts and reflects in an environment.


Specific graphical representation of a character in a given font.

Golden Ratio

Mathematical ratio (approx. 1:1.618) considered aesthetically pleasing in design and art.


Smooth transition between two or more colors or brightness levels.

Graphic User Interface (GUI)

The set of graphic elements that allow interaction between the user and a software.


Representation of an image where only shades of gray are used, from white to black.


A set of lines or guides that help organize elements in a design.


Lines in design programs that help align elements in a layout.


Spacing between columns of text or elements in a layout, as in a magazine or web page.



Pattern of lines or dots used to simulate shades of gray or colors on media that can only produce black and white, such as a printer.

Halo Effect

Visible glow around bright or contrasting areas in an image.


Text at the beginning of a document or section, usually to denote headings or topics.


A graphic representation that uses colors to show the intensity of a phenomenon, such as clicks on a web page.

Hex Color Code

Color representation in hexadecimal format, mainly used in web design.


Organization of elements in a design to indicate importance or sequence.

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Technique for capturing or displaying a wider range of brightness and detail in photography or video.


Focusing attention on a specific element through the use of color, shadow, or size.


A graph showing the distribution of tones in an image, useful for color and luminosity adjustments.


A color characteristic that determines whether it is red, blue, green, etc.



The use of images and symbols to represent ideas, concepts or themes in a design.

Image Cropping

The process of removing unwanted areas of an image to focus on a specific part, commonly used to improve composition.

Image Optimization

Reduction of the file size of an image without significantly compromising its quality.

Image Trace

Overlay of an image with low opacity for use as a reference in drawing or design.


Combination of a graphic symbol and text to represent a brand or company.


Horizontal space added at the beginning of a paragraph to separate it from the margin, improving readability and the aesthetics of the text.


Visual presentation of information or data in a structured and easily understandable manner.


Fusion of isotype and logotype, where text and symbol are inseparably linked.


Graphic symbol representing a brand or company, with no text included.


Font style where the characters are slanted, usually for emphasis or style.



Random variability in a sign or motion, as in animation or graphic effects.


Aligning text so that both left and right margins are aligned.


Placement of elements side by side in a design to create contrast or interaction.



Horizontal spacing between individual letters in a block of text.

Keyboard Shortcut

A keystroke combination that performs a specific function in the software to speed up tasks.


LAB Color Space

Color model that separates lightness (L) from color components (A and B), used for a more accurate representation of color.


Individual element in a design file that allows separate editing of different parts of a project.

Layer Adjustment

Non-destructive modification of properties such as brightness, contrast and saturation on a specific layer.

Layer Mask

A type of mask used to control the visibility of a specific layer in design software.

Layer Style

A set of effects applied to a layer in editing programs, such as shadow, glow, etc.


Vertical spacing between lines of text in a paragraph.


Ease with which text or elements in a design can be read or interpreted.


Optical part in cameras and other devices that focuses light to capture an image.


The art of hand-drawn lettering, usually for unique or custom designs.


Combination of two or more characters in a single form to improve aesthetics or legibility.

Line Break

Character or command that moves the cursor to the beginning of the next line.


A tool that allows deforming and manipulating elements of an image as if they were liquids.

Live Preview

A feature that allows you to view changes in real time while editing a design project.


A word, image or lettering uniquely designed to represent a brand or company.


Continuous repetition of an animation or sound sequence.

Lorem Ipsum

Filler text used in layout and design to simulate real content.

Low Dynamic Range (LDR)

Images with a limited range of brightness, as opposed to HDR.


A measure of the intensity of light emitted or reflected by a surface.



Technique for hiding or revealing parts of an object or layer using a mask.

Mean Line

Imaginary line that defines the height of capital letters in a block of text.


Vertical spacing between columns of text, similar to gutter but in editorial design.

Mesh Generation

Creation of a network structure that represents the surface of an object in 3D graphics.


Data that describes other data, such as the authorship and size of a design file.


Small but meaningful actions in an interface that enhance the user experience, such as an animated button click.


A technique in 3D graphics to improve the efficiency and quality of texture rendering at different distances.


A scale model or mockup of a design or product to visualize its form and functionality.


Interference pattern visible when two grid patterns overlap, common in printing and scanning.


Design that combines two or more letters or graphic elements to form a single symbol.


A collection of images, textures and colors used to define or communicate a design style or concept.


Fluid transformation of one shape or image into another through animation.



Inversion of colors in an image, usually white becomes black and vice versa.



The degree to which an object or layer is transparent or visible in design.


Scalable font format that offers a variety of features such as ligatures and styles.


Isolated line of text at the beginning or end of a column, considered bad practice in editorial design.


Creating a border around an object or text to make it stand out or separate it from the background.

Outline Tracing

A technique that consists of drawing only the outer edges of an object in a graphic design.


Additional space added around an object or text to give it more breathing room and improve readability.


Placement of one graphic element on top of another, often with some transparency to show both.


A technique where colors are printed on top of each other, commonly used to avoid unwanted white space.


Excessive color saturation in an image, which can lead to loss of detail.



The process of gathering all the files and resources needed for a design project for delivery or printing.


Standardized color matching system used in design and printing.

Parallax Effect

Illusion of depth created by moving multiple layers at different speeds in web design or graphics.

Pathfinding Algorithm

Mathematical sequence for converting vector shapes and lines into a pixel representation.


A graphic element repeated to form a texture or background in design.

Perlin Noise

Noise generation technique in computer graphics to create more natural textures and effects.

Perspective Projection

Representation of a 3D object on a 2D surface with vanishing points to simulate depth.


Graphic symbol that represents a concept or idea without the use of words.

Pixel Perfect

A design in which each pixel is intentionally placed to create a sharper, clearer image.

Pixel Pipeline

Sequence of steps in 3D graphics to transform data into pixels on screen.


Visual effect where individual pixels are visible, usually undesirable in high-resolution images.

Pixels Per Inch (PPI)

Measure of the resolution of a digital image, important for print and display quality.

Polar Coordinates

A system that locates points on a plane using a distance and angle from a central point.


Group multiple layers into a single layer to simplify handling and editing in design software.


Saved parameter settings for future use in effects, brushes or layer adjustments.


The ability of a design to be correctly reproduced in printed format, taking into account aspects such as resolution and gamut.


Initial model of a design used to test and improve concepts before final production.

Punctuation Marks

Marks such as commas, periods and colons that structure and clarify text.



The process of converting vector graphics into a bitmap image, usually for display or printing.

Raster Image

Conversion of a vector image to a bitmap, where the quality depends on the resolution.


Scaling of an object or image to make it smaller while maintaining its proportions.

Reference Points

Markers or guides in a design that help align or position other elements.


Visual effect that simulates the reflection of an object on a shiny surface.


The process of generating an image from a model using computer algorithms.

Render Pass

A 3D process that divides the rendering into several components for greater control during compositing.


The number of pixels that make up an image in width and height. Affects the quality and detail of display and printing.

RGB and sRGB

Color models based on the intensities of Red, Green and Blue. sRGB is a standardized variant.

Rich Black

Printing technique that uses a layer of black ink to intensify other colors.


Characteristic of a letter that has a circular or semi-circular shape, such as “o” and “b.”


Safe Area

Area around the design where critical elements are avoided to prevent them from being cut or altered in printing.

Sans Serif

A typeface that does not have small caps at the ends of the characters.


Intensity of a color, ranging from dull to vibrant.


The ratio of size between different elements in a design or between the design and its representation in reality.


Vertical or horizontal scrolling across a page or screen.

Selection Tools

Functions in design programs to choose specific areas of an image or layer to edit.


Typeface with small caps at the ends of the characters.

Shader Model

A set of instructions in graphics programming that determines how pixels and vertices are rendered.


Technique for adding highlights and shadows to graphics to give them a three-dimensional appearance.

Shadow Study

Analysis of how shadows will be cast in a design, especially in 3D contexts.


A two-dimensional element with defined edges, such as a circle or square, in a design.


Preliminary representation of a design that serves as a guide for subsequent stages.

Slab Serif

A variant of the capped font where the caps are generally wider and more robust.

Small Caps

Uppercase letters that are the size and weight of lowercase letters in a font.


Smoothing of edges or textures in an image to minimize aliasing.


A technique that softens the edges of an object or area, similar to blurring but usually more subtle.


Mathematical curve used to create complex shapes in computer graphics.


A design element in the form of a spiral or swirl, common in decoration and typography.


A series of images or illustrations arranged in sequence to preview an animation or video.


Visible line that follows the outline of a shape or the path between two points.


Anti-aliasing technique that renders an image at a higher resolution and then reduces it to improve quality.


Color or pattern sample saved for quick use in a design project.


Tangent Space

3D coordinates that describe how textures are applied in three-dimensional models.


Predefined file with design elements and structures to speed up the creation process.


The process of dividing a surface into simpler shapes such as triangles for more efficient rendering in 3D graphics.

Text Attributes

Properties such as font, size, line spacing and alignment that define the appearance of the text.

Text Box (Dialog Box)

Interface element where text is entered or displayed. Can be editable or not.


Imitation of a real surface such as wood, metal or fabric in a graphic design.

Time Offset

Technique for altering the timing of audio or video clips, usually for creative effects.

Tone Curve

Graph for adjusting brightness and color levels in an image.


Use of variations of the same color to create subtle differences in a design.


Adjustment of the horizontal distance between words in a block of text.

Transformation Matrix

A set of mathematical calculations to change the position, scale and orientation of objects in computer graphics.


The process of dividing a polygonal surface into triangles, useful for simplifying 3D models.


U&lc (Upper and Lower Case)

Use of both types of letters in a text, refers to the standard writing convention.

Uppercase and Lowercase

Differentiation between uppercase letters (upper case) and lowercase letters (lower case).

UV Mapping

The process of assigning a two-dimensional texture to a three-dimensional object in computer graphics.


Variable Font

Font type that allows characteristics such as weight, width and style to be adjusted using parameters.

Vector Image

Graphic based on mathematical formulas, scalable without loss of quality.

Vector Normalization

The process of converting a vector to a magnitude of 1 without changing its direction.

Vertex and Fragments

Vertices are points that define geometry in 3D graphics. Fragments are resulting pixels that form the final image.

Visual Metaphor

Use of images to represent concepts or ideas, facilitating understanding in design.

Visual Weight

Importance or visual emphasis given to an element in a design.



Image or text superimposed on a document or image to indicate ownership or authenticity.

White Balance

Adjustment to neutralize color tones in an image, ensuring that white is truly white.


Sequence of steps and processes in the completion of a design project.


Specific area within a design project where the current work is performed.



Height of lowercase letters in a typeface, excluding ascenders and descenders.



Technique in 3D graphics to determine which objects are visible and which are hidden behind others.

If there is a term or concept that you can’t find in our Graphic Design Dictionary. Let us know in the comments and we will get to work to give you the best answer.