Art Department Glossary for Film & Television

We have researched far and wide and tapped our experiences in the industry to bring you the most thorough art department glossary we could create. We are adding new art department terms every day, so please contact us here, or here, if you have a new word or art department term you would like us to include in our glossary.

This glossary covers general art department terms, key art department related crew positions, set design terminology, and graphic design terminology. We have loosely included Set Dec, Props, Greens, Construction, Scenic, Special Effects, and Visual Effects in this glossary but we are looking to add more comprehensive terms as time goes on for these various departments. We hope you will help us with this.

For a broader filmmaking glossary, we’ve created this guide to film terminology and set jargon here, where you can find your more basic filmmaking terms like ‘call sheet’ and ‘aspect ratio’ among many others.

Click on the various tabs: General Art Department, Positions, Set Design, or Graphic Design to maneuver through the multiple glossary lists.

Art Department Glossary of Terms

General Art DepartmentPositionsSet DesignGraphic Design

Art Department General Terms

3M Hooks/Command Strips: Name brand. These hooks are plastic hangers that don’t use screws or brad nails but rather a strong tape-like, fully removable adhesive. They come in many sizes and weight bearing strengths.

Aging: Technique of making new materials, surfaces, and finishes look older.

Anachronism or Anachronistic: An element, artifact, prop, or furnishing in a film or television show that belongs to a different time or place than the one being shown; often anachronistic elements are deemed as inconsistencies or mistakes. For example: The movie The Favourite was anachronistic because the wheelchair would not have been invented yet.

Architecture: The design or style of a building.

Asphaltum: A tar-like substance used in the aging process.

Atmospheric Animals: Animals which are brought in to make a set more realistic. For example, horses may function in the background as decoration in a horse stable set. (See also: Picture Animals)

Backdrop or Backing: Refers to a large photographic backing or painting for the background of a scene. These large scale photos/paintings are printed/painted, hung, and lit to give the illusion of the outdoors on set.

Background (aka  Atmosphere): 1) term used to describe Extras (Actors) that are used in the background of a scene to create a sense of realism. 2) Dressing that defines the set but is not featured in the foreground.

Back lot: An undeveloped area, on studio property, in an open-air, outdoor space away from the studio stages, where real-life situations with backgrounds can be filmed.

Back Projection: A photographic technique whereby live action is filmed in front of a transparent screen onto which background action is projected.

Blue screen: A process whereby actors work in front of an evenly-lit, monochromatic (usually blue or green) background, screen, or backdrop. The background is then replaced in post-production by chroma-keying or optical printer, allowing other footage or computer-generated images (CGI) to form the background image; since 1992, most films use a green-screen.

Breakaway: Destroyable glass objects that are used for stunts or gags in a scene. Can also mean destroyable set pieces or scenery.

Breakdown or Ageing: refers to the process of making an item appear to be used/worn according to the requirements of the story/setting.

Burned Location: Any location (house, restaurant, park etc.) that will not allow filming due to previous unresolved problems with film productions.

Camera Ready: A set that is completed and ready to be recorded to camera; a fully constructed, painted, dressed, rigged, and lit set.

Chachkas or Chachkes: A small ornamental piece of set dressing.

Change Over: When set dressing is removed from a set and replaced with new dressing in order to transform it into a different set. Usually, this is done when the shooting crew is finished with the set.

Cheat: The act of intentionally moving an object or actor in or out of the way (in coverage shots) in order to improve the look of the shot. May result in a shot that is not in exact continuity, but not noticeable in the final cut.

Clearance: An arrangement whereby a company, copyright, or trademark holder agrees to allow a production to show their copyrighted or trademarked intellectual property item(s) on camera. Item(s) refers to brands, logos, images and copy-written objects that have been legally approved by production to be used in the film.

Colour Palette: A series of related colours used by the designer to create the mood and atmosphere of a film.

Compositing/Composite Shot: The combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images (or sequences of images), often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene. Examples might be incorporating rendered 3D images (CGI) into filmed material, or extracting elements shot in front of blue/green screen. Today most compositing is achieved through digital image manipulation.

Contact Sheet: A print out of multiple images within a grouping of images available for one particular task. A contact sheet is a useful way of seeing which are the best images to use on any given task from choosing artwork, dressings, props to deciding which research images may be relevant.

Copyright: A form of intellectual property that grants the creator of an original creative work an exclusive legal right to determine whether and under what conditions their original work may be copied and used by others, for a limited time. The exclusive rights are limited by various limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. A major limitation on copyright on ideas is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.

Cover Set/ Rain Cover: A standby set that can be used for shooting when another set cannot be used because of inclement weather or other problems.

Cyclorama: A curved, seamless, floor-to-ceiling backdrop or background used in studios.

Diorama: A miniature rendition of a set.

Ditty Bag: Small bag used by film crews to store smaller tools and other useful items. Originally referred to small bags of necessities carried by sailors while at sea.

Dress: To decorate or define a set by arranging items such as furniture, drapes and art work (dressing) on a given set.

Dulling Spray: A removable cloudy translucent spray (either commercial spray or arid extra dry deodorant) used on shiny surfaces such as windows and mirrors to prevent unwanted reflections.

Dunnage: Pieces of wood, matting, inflated cells or similar material used to keep a cargo in position during transport.

Exterior: An outdoor location. Referred to as “EXT.” in the script.

Facade: An exterior wall, or face, of a building or set. The front facade of a building or set contains the main entrance, the rear facade is the rear exterior wall, and the side facades are the side exterior walls.

Felt Bumpers or Felt Pads: Small felt stickers used on the bottom of furniture and heavy or abrasive objects to prevent scratching of hardwood, linoleum or stone floors.

Fire in the Hole: A Phrase used as an alert when an explosion, fire, or gunfire is used on set. This phrase is called out to let the crew know a weapon is loaded, ready to go and a loud noise is soon to follow.

Flashing: Is a term On-Set Dressers use while employing a flash when taking a picture on set. This is done to notify the Electrics that the flash is from your camera, not one of their lights being blown out. It is also used to warn crew and cast, so that they are not surprised or blinded by the light.

Flat: A lightweight, moveable wooden structure that is used as a wall component or backdrop in set construction.

Floating: A piece of scenery in a set that is designed to be moved, removed, and/or replaced as needed to allow for lighting, camera, and various production needs.

Fly: Scenery on ropes or cables above a set.

Flying in: Phrase used by crewmembers to let someone know that they, or a requested item is on their way to set imminently.

Fold & Hold: Refers to the instruction to box, label, inventory and store all dressing related to a set and hold it in a designated area in the lock up. This ensures the same set can be recreated integrally at a later date.

Forced Perspective: A technique used to create a sense of great distance or to make a space seem much bigger than it is, forced perspective is created by using objects that vary in size, and placing them specific distances from one another, to create the effect of objects fading into the distance. This technique is used to create depth by foreshortening the background.

Foreground: Anything or set piece that is in the front of the camera’s field of vision and not blocked by anything else.

Fuller’s Earth or Pyrolite or Bentonite: A clay-based powdered earth formerly used on movie set, costumes and special effects as a substitute for real dirt and dust. While it has recently been replaced with the safer product Pyrolite and Bentonite the term is still used to refer to tan coloured scenic dust.

Gak: Slang film term used to describe non-descript (ND) dressing, equipment, props, etc. Loosely means stuff.

Gantries: A bridgework over a set to hang lights.

Gimbal: The mechanism used to spin or rotate a room, set, or scenery piece on set. This device cradles an object allowing it to be steady even though what is beneath it is unsteady.

Glue Blocks: Small scrap pieces of 3/4” plywood glued to the backside of a flat. The block supplies added strength when hanging heavy objects to the flat. Plywood is used because it does not split easily.

Gray Scale: A gradation of tones from black to white.

Greeking: Changing trademarks that haven’t been cleared for use within the film. Materials used for Greeking include: vinyl, labels, stickers, felt markers, and
coloured tape.

Green Screen: A process whereby actors work in front of an evenly-lit, monochromatic (usually blue or green) background, screen, or backdrop. The background is then replaced in post-production by chroma-keying or optical printer, allowing other footage or computer-generated images (CGI) to form the background image.

Hard Backing: A set backing on a hard surface.

Hero: Any set, set piece, set dressing, vehicle, and/or prop of importance used, held, or mentioned by an actor on screen.

Hot: Describes the status of a gun or explosive effect that is loaded, and will be used in an upcoming scene. Also describes an electrical item with live current (lamp, clock, etc).

Hot Set: A set where all elements, furnishings and props have been established on camera and finalized and continues to be shot throughout the show. The set is then labeled “Hot Set” to indicate that it should not be changed or disturbed in any form as not to disrupt continuity.

In House: When something is made, printed, or built within the confines of the production grounds instead of sending to an outside company to be made, built, or printed.

Interior: An indoor location. Referred to as “INT.” in the script.

Jerry Rigging or MacGyvering: A term used to describe an unconventional way to rig, fix or hang dressing when the conventional way is not an option. For example, using wedges on the outside brackets of venetian blinds to secure them when it is not possible to drill holes into the wall.

Last Looks or Finals: This is the phrase said by the First Assistant Director just before they say “Standby for picture” meaning this is the last chance to make a change so all applicable departments should do their final touches, for example, the makeup artist can run in to quickly remove sweat on an actor or the on-set dresser can run in and remove an errant water bottle that has visibly made its way on set.

Layering or Detailing: Refers to the process of adding dressing to a set, starting with the largest items and working your way to the smallest. Layering the smalls is also known as Detailing.

Location: Practical space used to shoot a scene in a film.

Lock-Up (aka Set Dec Lock-Up): Refers to the Set Decoration Warehouse of a given production. The Lock-Up is used to store any Set Dressing or supplies not currently in use.

Matte Painting: A painting used in conjunction with blue screen process to create a background unobtainable by the filmmakers.

Matte Shot: A photographic technique whereby artwork – usually on glass – from a matte artist is combined with live action. Contrast this with back projection or a travelling matte.

Metaphor: An idea that translates into a visualization used to express the themes of a film.

Miniature: An identical but small-scale model of a set, object, or location filmed in such a way that it seems like it is a full-scale model.

Mise en scène: “Putting in the scene” in French; refers to the composition and arrangement of visual elements within the frame of film, including costume, set décor, lighting, and character positioning.

Model: A three-dimensional reproduction of an object used in a film. Also a three-dimensional representation of a set used in preproduction.

Moiré: Undesirable patterns in printed halftones caused by improperly aligned screens.

Mono: Short for monofilament, more commonly called fishing line or fishing wire.

Motion Capture: An animation technique in which the actions of an animated object are derived automatically from the motion of a real-world actor or object.

ND: Stands for Non-Descript. Art Department is often asked non-descript items to place in the background. For example: A graphic designer may be asked to create ND paperwork which is general paperwork that could be used in the background in any set and is not specific to a certain type of office.

On the Day: A term used to describe set work that is to be done on the same day as, or during, principal photography.

Opening Set: Refers to the process where the Decorator, Lead Dresser or a Set Dresser review a new, not yet established set with the Director, Director of Photography and other Department Keys, right before it is shot for the first time. This ensures that the set is satisfactory to all concerned and allows for adjustments before the first shot.

Perspective: The illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface.

Picture Vehicle: Any vehicle that is seen on screen.

Picture Animal: Any animal that is seen on screen. (Also see: Atmospheric Animals)

Plan: A technical drawing used to construct a set.

Plant On: To affix a material, hardware, moulding, or other detail to a surface.

Practical: Something on a set that really works. An element that will be adapted, redesigned, or used as originally designed, for actual use as intended on the shoot day often instead of using visual effects or special effects. For example: A scene might require a sink to be practical on the day, meaning it must have running water for the take.

Practicals or Practical Lighting: Any lamp or lighting where the light source is in frame. ‘Practicals’ are lights that are built into your locations or sets like ceiling fixtures, desk and floor lamps, and strings of Christmas lights. It can also refer to headlights from a car, street lamps, televisions, and computers. For example: A DOP might ask that more practicals be brought in, usually meaning they want more lamps, candles, or other light sources built in to the location.

Practical Location: An existing location.

Previsualization or Previs or Previz: The visualizing of complex scenes in a movie before filming. Previsualization is used to describe techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal sketches or in digital technology, in the planning and conceptualization of movie scenes.

Principal Photography: The main shooting dates of a film with the lead actors present.

Process Screen: Technique used to project film from behind a screen to create a background for the foreground action. Also called rear screen projection.

Product Placement: A business arrangement whereby a production agrees to show, for example, the products or logo of a particular company, usually in return for payment or other consideration.

Prop: Anything an actor touches or uses on the set; e.g. phones, guns, cutlery, etc. Movie animals and all food styling (food seen or eaten on set/screen) also fall into this domain.

Prop Houses: Defines businesses that rent out props, set dressing and sometimes costumes, to the film industry.

Rain Cover or Weather Cover or Cover Set: Defines a scene set in a studio or location that has been prepped as a shooting alternative. This option is typically used in case of bad weather or logistical problems.

Raked: A set floor that is angled up from the camera.

Rear Screen Projection: Technique used to project film from behind a screen to create a background for the foreground action.

Rental Agreement: An itemized contract for set dressing rentals between the rental shop and the production company. It is essentially an inventory list for the dressers but also a contract for the production company.

Reset: Also called: ‘back to ones’, ‘first positions’, ‘going again’ or ‘number ones’. Called out by the first AD to bring actors, vehicles and extras back to their original positions for another take.

Retrofit: Technical addition to an existing structure.

Rig: Piece of equipment used for a specific task.

Rubber Bumpers: Are small clear rubber stickers that are applied underneath smalls (vases, etc.) to prevent scratching furniture surfaces. They can also be used on the back bottom corners of picture frames to protect the wall.

Scenic Loft: Piece of equipment that allows the scenic painter to paint standing upright as the painting is raised and lowered.

Scenic Painting: A painting done on canvas or a hard surface used to create a background for a set.

Schedule: Chart or table in a set of architectural drawings, including data about materials, finishes, equipment, windows, doors, and signage; also a plan for performing work.

Scissor Lift: A mobile electric or gas-powered platform mounted on folding arms. This lift is used to provide elevated work areas and help raise/ lower items or crew members.

Scout: Looking for the right location to shoot in.

Scrim: A translucent screen used to diffuse light.

Securing a Load: Ensuring that a load is safely tied down and fixed for safe transport. Ratchet straps, rope, furnie blankets and dunnage are some of the equipment used to perform this task.

Set: Place used to film a scene.

Set Dressing: Furnishings used to decorate a set.

Sound Blanket or Furnie or Furnie Blanket or Furniture Blanket or Packing Blanket: Abbreviated term to describe furniture pads used by Set Decoration and Grips to protect furniture, actors, and camera equipment. The standard use of a Packing Blanket is dark side up (visible).

Special Effects: An artificial effect used to create an illusion in a movie. Refers to effects produced on the set, as opposed to those created in post-production. Most movie illusions are created in post production. These are called visual effects.

Snot Tape or Clear Butyl or Toffee Tack or Super Tape: Used widely by Prop and Set Decoration departments for securing items to shelves, walls and tables for dressing sets, continuity and safety. The tape is sticky throughout, its pliability gives it the ability to be used in a variety of ways.  It is clear, non-staining and available in 3 sizes.

Spotting Plan or Stage Layout: A ground plan or floor plan for a set or multiple sets which indicate doors and distance from existing stage walls or other sets sharing the same space.

Squib: A small device that replicates a bullet wound, usually by squishing a capsule of fake blood.

Stage: Area in a studio used to build sets and to photograph a scene.

Standing Set: A permanent indoor or outdoor set. A recurring set in a television storyline in which the set remains on a stage throughout an entire season or series, for example, Frasier’s Apartment on Frasier. A standing set can also remain on a stage for longer than any one production if it is a commonly needed location that can be rented to new productions, for example, a courtroom, airplane, or jail set.

Storyboard: A sequence of drawings that tell the story frame by frame to communicate the desired general visual appearance on camera of a scene or movie including the blocking and camera action.

Studio: Production facility where sets are built and scenes for the film are photographed.

Studio Tank or Water Tank: A large receptacle that holds water and water machinery to satisfy production needs involving water scenes in a controlled environment within a studio. Essentially it is a larger, more complicated swimming pool for very specific set needs.

Sugar Glass or Candy Glass: Originally a sugar based glass that was used as a substitute for real glass when the glass needed to shatter safely and predictably on camera. Sugar glass is now made from synthetic compounds.

Survey or Recce: An inspection or exploration of an area to gather information from a location which will determine if the space is suitable and what needs to be done to the space to make it work for the scene/project. Survey is used in North America while Recce is used in the UK/Europe. Recce is a slang word for “reconnaissance”.

Swamper: A slang term that refers to a Set Dresser assigned as the departmental representative on the Set Dec truck. The swamper is also responsible for the loading and unloading of the set dressing.

Swing Set or Swing Stage: A set or entire stage that may be reconfigured into several different sets during the course of a film or television show season. Most commonly used in episodic television.

Tech Survey: The final survey or recce of all locations and spaces which are to be shot during principal photography seen back to back over 1-3 days with all techs and key crew in attendance so everyone is on the same page and gathers key information so there are no surprises on the day.

Title Block: A table located in the bottom right corner of a drawing which contains sections for providing the film title, production designer, set designer, set number, set name, location information, and drawing scale- for example 1/4″ = 1′-0″.

Top Dressing or Detailing: refers to adding smalls on top of furniture in a way that defines the character’s style, state of mind or characteristic. For example: a mountain of paperwork on the desk of an overworked police officer, a neatly organized desk of a high-powered executive, etc.

Trademark: A recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. It is legally recognized as a type of intellectual property.

Translite/Translight: A transparent photographic blow-up used as a background. The translite is a category of photographic backdrop able to be lit from front or back.

TrueBlock: Trademarked shipping labels by Avery which use ‘TrueBlock’ technology that completely cover everything underneath the label, leaving a bright-white professional appearance on the outside. This adhesive paper is often used in house within an art department to print graphics.

Tuffback Paper: A large format thick low tack adhesive paper that you buy by the roll and apply like vinyl. Tuffback is often used when you need to paint something and you are not able to paint directly to the surface so you paint the tuffback paper then apply it over top the surface. Tuffback is the material of choice in these situations since it is opaque, takes paint well, and comes off smoothly and reliably.

Visual Effects: Alterations to a film’s images during post-production, most often through CGI.

Waler: A horizontal beam used to help support joined flats; also used in concrete formwork.

Wild: A piece of scenery in a set that is designed to be moved, removed, and replaced as needed to allow lighting, camera, or other various production needs. Any part of a set that is movable.

Wrap Pack: A package consisting of Rental Agreements, Purchase Orders, Transportation Orders and photographs of set dressing put together by a Buyer, or Set Dec Coordinator. The wrap pack inventories all of the various Set Dec rentals and purchases, and guides the striking of the set, so that all items are 1) accounted for and 2) returned to the right suppliers or lock up.

Wrapping: The act of striking the dressing from a set and returning the dressing to the rental houses and purchases to the lock up.

Art Department Positions Glossary

Armourer: A person who is responsible for weapons on the set of a movie or television show. Duties include providing the correct weapons to suit the era and style of the film, advising the director on use of weapons, choosing the correct blanks, creating a safe set for the use of said weapons, teaching actors about handling and using weapons, making sure use of all weapons is properly licensed, and ensuring the safety of everyone on the set while weapons are in use.

Art Department: Crew members who work under the direct supervision of the Production Designer and Art Director/Supervising Art Director.

Art Director: Person who works directly underneath the production designer executing the design of sets; manages the artist’s and craftspeople that create the sets to follow through on the production designer’s vision. Original title used for person who designed sets and decor for a film.

Buyer: Purchases or rents the set dressing, decoration, props, or clothing for a production.

Carpenter: Member of the construction crew responsible for woodwork in the building of sets.

Concept Illustrator/Production Illustrator: Person who creates illustrations of the production designer and director’s ideas for a set or moment in a film in drawings or paintings.

Construction Coordinator: Person in charge of overseeing the building of sets working directly with carpenters and other craftspeople. Through drawings created in the art department, a construction coordinator is directed by the production designer and supervised by the art director to produce the production designer’s “vision” in three dimensions. Also responsible for the physical integrity of the structures built by the construction department.

Construction Crew: People responsible for physically building the set.

Costume Designer: Person responsible for designing and executing the costumes for a film.

Costumer/ Wardrobe/Set/Costume Supervisor: Person responsible for the care of costumes on the set.

Director of Photography (DOP or DP)/ Cinematographer: Person responsible for the lighting and photography of a production.

Head Carpenter: Foreman of all carpenters on set.

Greensman: Person responsible for the installation and care of trees, lawns, and flowers on a film set. Organizes and designs the landscaping and greenery in a film under the supervision of the production designer.

Leadperson: The foreman of the set dressing crew/swing gang, supervised by the set decorator. Previously referred to as Leadman.

Location Manager: Person responsible for finding and securing a location for a film.

Matte Artist: A person who creates artwork (usually for the background of a shot) which is included in the movie either via a matte shot or optical printing.

Modeler: A person who develops any three-dimensional object (either inanimate or animate) via specialized software in 3D computer graphics.

On-Set Dresser: A person who maintains the set per the Set Decorator’s requirements. Moves and resets the set decoration to accommodate camera, grip and lighting setups. Responsible for set continuity with script supervisor and property master.

Picture Vehicle Coordinator: Person responsible for vehicles used on-screen in a production.

Previsualization Artist: A designer who uses low resolution proxy models, quick OpenGL hardware renderings, and other 3D FX systems to completely conceptualize a sequence that requires either visual FX or character animation with the goal of to producing usable data that will help streamline the production process.

Production Designer: Working with the director and director of photography, the production designer creates the visual look and feel of a film.

Property Master/Prop Master: Person responsible for all props and objects used and handled by the actors in a production.

Scenic Artist: Person who paints scenic backgrounds, lettering, signs, portraits, sets, and other things needed to be painted on a set.

Set Decorator: Researches and supervises the procurement of all objects that are used to dress the set, such as drapery, furniture, street items and more, as well as the dressing of each and every set designed by the production designer.

Set Designer or Draughtsman: Person responsible for designing and overseeing construction of their technical drawings based on the ideas of the production designer. They are responsible for translating a production designer’s vision of the movie’s environment into a set which can be used for filming. The set designer reports to the art director.

Supervising Art Director: The art director in charge when multiple art directors are employed on a production working under the production designer to execute their vision of each set. During the days of the Hollywood studio system this position title was the person who headed the art department at the studio and assigned the art director to each project then supervised the design of all the films produced by the studio. Cedric Gibbons was the supervising art director for MGM Studios.

Swing Gang/Set Dressing Crew: Set dressers who dress and strike sets, as well as pick up and return the dressing. They work apart from the shooting crew, as they are always prepping a set for shooting or striking it after it’s been shot. Swing Gang is an American term used to describe a group of set dressers.

Standby Painter: A scenic artist available during filming for last minute changes.

Transportation Coordinator: Person responsible for vehicles used on a production.

Set Design Terms

Abacus: The flat slab on top of a capital, supporting the architrave.

Access Floor: Removable finish flooring raised above the floor structure to allow installation of wiring or ductwork below.

Arcade: A series of arches supported by columns or other vertical elements.

Arch: Structural device that supports vertical loads by translating them into axial forces.

Armature: The wire or metal frame used to support the creation of a large or oddly shaped structure such as a manufactured tree or statue.

Asymmetry: Elements that when placed on opposite sides of a set, frame, page, line, or plane are not symmetrical.

Balcony: A platform that projects from the wall of a building, and which is enclosed on its outer three sides by a balustrade, railing, or parapet.

Baluster: A vertical supporting element, similar to a small column.

Balustrade: A railing consisting of a row of balusters supporting a rail.

Bay: A section of a building distinguished by vertical elements such as columns or pillars. Often, a bay will protrude from the surface of the wall in which it is situated, thus creating a small, nook-like interior space, often of a rectangular or semi-hexagonal outline. See bay window.

Bay Window: A projecting bay that is lit on all of its projecting sides by windows. See bay.

Bevel: An angled cut at a corner or edge.

Board and batten: A wooden siding treatment in which wide, vertically oriented boards are separated by narrower strips of wood called “battens,” which form the joints between the boards.

Bond (brickwork): Brickwork with overlapping bricks. Types of bond include stretcher, English, header, Flemish, garden wall, herringbone, basket, American, and Chinese.

Brace: A reinforcing and/or stabilizing element of an architectural frame.

Bracket: A projection from a vertical surface that provides structural and/or visual support for overhanging elements such as cornices, balconies, and eaves.

Buttress: Masonry or concrete reinforcement applied to a wall to resist diagonal forces from an arch or vault.

CAD: Computer Aided Design. Almost all set designers and architects work in CAD software and it is very rare to find technical drawings done by hand these days.

Camera Angle Projection: A hand-draughting method used to create a perspective drawing from an architectural plan to see how the completed set will look through a particular lens.

Cantilever: An unsupported overhang acting as a lever, like a flagpole sticking out of the side of a wall.

Casement Window: A window frame that is hinged on one vertical side, and which swings open to either the inside or the outside of the building. Casement windows often occur in pairs.

Chalet: A timber dwelling, cottage, or lodge with a gable roof and wide eaves.

Chevron: A design that incorporates a pointed shape similar to an accent mark, common to Art Deco architecture.

CNC: Stands for Computer Numerical Control. This means a computer converts the design produced by Computer Aided Design software (CAD), into numbers. The numbers can be considered to be the coordinates of a graph and they control the movement of the cutter.

CNC Router: A router that comes with the ability to use computer numerical control to route tool paths that enable the machine to function. CNC routers reduce waste and increase productivity, producing various items in a much shorter amount of time than using other machines.

Colonnade: A range of columns that supports a string of continuous arches or a horizontal entablature.

Column: A supporting pillar consisting of a base, a cylindrical shaft, and a capital on top of the shaft. Columns may be plain or ornamental.

Concept: A vision of how a product could be, often explained with hand sketches and rough models.

Corbel: A structural piece of stone, wood or metal jutting from a wall to carry a superincumbent weight.

Cornice: A crowning projection at a roof line, often with molding or other classical detail.

Cornice Molding: A decorative strip of wood running just below the eaves of a building. A cornice molding is a cross between a cornice and a molding – a cornice is a crowning projection at a roof line, while a molding is a decorative strip of wood.

Courtyard: An open space, usually open to the sky, enclosed by a building, often with an arcade or colonnade.

Crenellation: A sequence of alternating raised and lowered wall sections at the top of a high exterior wall or parapet. Crenellations were originally employed for defensive purposes (one could hide behind a raised wall section while shooting down at enemies from over a lowered wall section), but were later used for decoration. Also known as a battlement.

Crosshatch or Hatching: A pattern of parallel lines applied to an area on a drawing such as section-views.

Cupola: A small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building.

Decorative Motif: A repeated pattern, image, idea, or theme. In classical architecture, series of urns and continuous or repeated swags of garlands are common decorative motifs.

Dentils: Small rectangular blocks that, when placed together in a row abutting a moulding, suggest a row of teeth.

Detail View: A portion of a view on a drawing, usually larger scale than the view it originated from.

Die Cut: Special shapes cut into a substrate by a steel rule.

Doric Order: Most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. The Greek Doric column was fluted or smooth-surfaced, and had no base, dropping straight into the stylobate or platform on which the temple or other building stood. The capital was a simple circular form, with some mouldings, under a square cushion that is very wide in early versions, but later more restrained. Above a plain architrave, the complexity comes in the frieze, where the two features, the triglyph and guttae, are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. In stone they are purely ornamental.

Dormer Window: A perpendicular window located in a sloping roof; triangular walls join the window to the roof. Dormer windows are sometimes crowned with pediments, and they often light attic sleeping rooms; “dormer” derives from “dormir,” French for “to sleep.”

Double Doors: Two adjacent doors that share the same door frame, and between which there is no separating vertical member. Double doors are often referred to as “French doors”, due to their preponderance in French architecture.

Draughting/Drafting: Technical drawing process used to create a plan to build a set.

Eaves: The projecting edge of a roof that overhangs an exterior wall to protect it from the rain.

Eclectic or Eclecticism: A mixing of various architectural styles and ornamentation of the past and present

Elevation View: Architectural drawing of a view of the vertical planes of the set showing their relationship to each other.

Exploded View: A view of a set, piece of furniture, prop, graphic, or product with all its components separated, usually to show how it is assembled.

Exposed Rafters: Rafters that are exposed to the outside of a building. Rafters are the inclined, sloping framing members of a roof, and to which the roof covering is affixed.

Facade: An exterior wall, or face, of a building or set. The front facade of a building or set contains the main entrance, the rear facade is the rear exterior wall, and the side facades are the side exterior walls.

Finial: Ornament at the top of a spire or roof.

Finish: An architectural finish is a standard finish characterized by a uniformly good appearance. This finish is most often specified for “exposed” surfaces. Often times we are not using a proper architectural material to finish a surface in the film industry. For example, the paint department might be directed to ‘finish’ a wall or flat/flattage as steel or wood.

Floor Plan: The architectural blueprint of the arrangement of rooms in a building or film set.

Gimbal: The mechanism used to spin or rotate a room, set, or scenery piece on set. This device cradles an object allowing it to be steady even though what is beneath it is unsteady.

Hardware: The metal fittings of a building, such as locks, latches, hinges, handles, and knobs.

Joinery: Woodworking joints in carpentry.

Masonry: Being of stone, brick, or concrete.

Matte: A flat, not glossy finish.

Mezzanine: Intermediate level between a floor and ceiling that occupies a partial area of the floor space.

Millwork: Interior wood finish components of a building or set, including cabinetry, windows, doors, moldings, and stairs.

Model: A three-dimensional reproduction of an object used in a film. Also a three-dimensional representation of a set used in preproduction.

Moulding: A strip of wood, plaster, or other material with an ornamental profile.

Mullions: The structural units that divide adjacent windows.

NTS: Stands for Not To Scale which is labelled on drawings when a drawing is not drawn perfectly to scale.

Panel: A smooth surface, usually rectangular (or sometimes circular) in shape and framed by a molding, and often featuring decorative, sculptural carving.

Panelling: A millwork wall covering constructed from rigid or semi-rigid components. These are traditionally interlocking wood, but could be plastic or other materials. Panelling was developed in antiquity to make rooms in stone buildings more comfortable. The panels served to insulate the room from the cold stone.

Partition: Interior non-load-bearing wall.

Plan: A technical drawing used to construct a set.

Plinth or Pedestal: The base or platform upon which a column, statue, monument or structure rests. A plinth is a lower terminus of the face trim on a door that is thicker and often wider than the trim which it augments.

Proscenium Arch: An arch framing the opening between the stage and the auditorium in some theatres.

Riser: Vertical face between two treads of a stair; also a raised stage platform or seating platform.

Section View: A drawing view created by cutting through another drawing with a section line.

Skin: The external layer of a structure, building, wall, or furnishing that is visible to the viewer.

Span: Distance between supports.

Tolerance: The amount that dimensions can be wrong without affecting the performance. Each can have its own specification for tolerance. Tolerances may be used to specify allowable variations in strength, stability, the mix of a material, the performance of a system, temperature ranges and so on.

Transom: Window or element, fixed or operable, above a door but within its vertical frame.

Tread: Horizontal surface between two risers of a stair.

Trim: Decorative building elements often used to conceal joints.

Truss: Structural element made up of a triangular arrangement of members that transforms the nonaxial forces acting on it into a set of axial forces on the truss members.

Vault: Arched form.

Veneer: Thin layer, sheet, or facing.

Wainscoting: A broader term referring to decorative panelling used for centuries as: a) a wall accent; b) insulation and; c) to prevent (and cover up) damage to walls. It typically is made of wood and covers the lower three or four feet of an interior wall.

Graphic Design Terms

Bitmap: Computer image composed of pixels.

Bleed: A printed area that extends beyond the trimmed edge of a printed piece. Bleed areas generally range from 1/8″ to 1/4″ (3.175 mm to 6.35 mm). Bleeds are produced by printing a piece on a sheet of paper larger than the trim size of the final piece and then cutting away the edges using the crop marks.

Bond (paper): Grade of paper used for photocopying, envelopes, office correspondence, and flyers.

Card Stock: A paper stock that is thicker and more durable than normal writing or printing paper, but thinner and more flexible than other forms of paperboard. Card stock is often used for business cards, postcards, scrapbooking, and other uses which require higher durability than regular paper. The texture is usually smooth, but can be textured, metallic, or glossy.

CMYK: Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black). The primary ink colours that are combined on press or as printed digital output to produce a full range of colours.

Collateral: Ancillary print material used to support brands and marketing campaigns that often need to be recreated for fake brands in film and television.

Cover Stock: Fine printing paper with a basis weight or grammage that is heavier than text or book weight papers. For example, magazine covers require thicker cover paper than the pages inside. Cover stock often has a coated finish on one side or both sides (C1S or C2S, for “coated: one side” or “coated: two sides”) to produce a glossy look and smooth texture.

Crop marks: Marks placed on the edges of a mechanical to indicate where a printed piece should be trimmed.

Deboss: To produce a recessed impression on the surface of a paper by pressing it between two dies.

Die Cut: Special shapes cut into a substrate by a steel rule.

DPI: Stands for dots per inch. Used to measure the resolution of a scanned image. Higher dpi produces higher resolution and more detail.

Emboss: To produce a raised impression on the surface of paper by pressing it between two dies.

Foil Stamp: Where foil and a heated die is stamped onto paper to form a printed impression.

Golden Section: Unique proportional ratio of two divisions of a line such that the smaller of the two is to the larger as the larger is to the sum of the two.

Gray Scale: A gradation of tones from black to white.

High-res: A digital image with a resolution of 200 dpi or more.

Kerning: Adjusting the amount of space between letters or characters so that letter spacing appears to be in balance.

Leading: The amount of vertical space between lines of type.

Low-res: A digital image with a resolution of 100 dpi or less.

Mask: A means of isolating a portion of an image from its surrounding area so that it becomes a silhouette or outline image.

Matte: A flat, not glossy finish.

Moiré: Undesirable patterns in printed halftones caused by improperly aligned screens.

ND: Stands for Non-Descript. Art Department is often asked non-descript items to place in the background. For example: A graphic designer may be asked to create ND paperwork which is general paperwork that could be used in the background in any set and is not specific to a certain type of office.

Proof: A test sheet made to represent how a final printed product will look so that flaws may be corrected before the piece is printed.

Raster: A pattern of closely spaced rows of dots that form an image (as on the cathode-ray tube of a television or computer display).

Raster Image Processing (RIP):  Converting digital files to bitmapped images that can be output on an imagesetter. The process is described as “ripping a file”.

RGB: Stands for Red, Green, and Blue, additive primary colours that are used to create a full range of colour as projected light on a computer screen.

Sans Serif: A font without decorative serifs. Typically with little stroke thickness variation, a larger x-height and no stress in rounded strokes.

Script: A typeface designed to imitate handwriting.

Serif: A small stroke at the end of a main vertical or horizontal stroke. Also used as a classification for typefaces that contain such decorative rounded, pointed, square, or slab serif finishing strokes.

Substrate: Any surface or material that is to be printed upon.

Typeface: Design of alphabetic letters, numbers, and symbols unified by consistent visual properties. Typeface properties are identified by name, such as Futura or Times New Roman.

Value: The relative lightness and darkness of a colour. Darker values where black is added are called shades. Lighter values where white is added are called tints or pastels.

Vector: Graphics that are made up using mathematical equations based on straight lines and curves. Vector graphics are infinitely scalable.

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