Artifacts Gallery - Glossary Of Art Terms




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Glossary Of Art Terms

Signed & Numbered by the artist (or S/N)

Each fine art limited edition is signed by the artist, certifying their inspection and approval, then numbered.

Artist Proofs (or A/P)

An exclusive subset of any given release traditionally reserved for use by the artist and publisher. Collectors give greater value to A/Ps, as they are often difficult to obtain. These are signed and numbered separately from the edition. The letters AP can be found written beside the numbers for example A/P 12/20.

Edition Size

The edition size is the number of reproductions that total a given print or canvas release. There are 2 numbers on a limited edition-for example 157/200. The number on the bottom (200) refers to the total number of reproductions in the edition. The number above (157) is the number of the individual print.


The dimensions are marked in inches, listed width by height (w x h) and refer only to the image area on a print or canvas.

Low Inventory

A limited edition that is almost sold out at the publishing company. There is usually less than 5% of the edition remaining.

Sold out at publisher

No inventory of that edition remains at the publisher. We may have the art for sale still so call for our availability.


A giclee (zhee-clay) is an elegant, state-of-the-art reproduction that gives a vibrant color rendition of an original painting. Giclee, a French printmakers term for sprayed, was adopted to distinguish the technique from ordinary offset printing. It also signifies to the art buyer that the process and materials used to create the print were intended for the fine art market. A giclee is created by a digital printers tiny ink jets that spray millions of droplets of archival, water-based inks onto fine archival art paper or canvas known as the substrate. The combination of specific inks and substrate are carefully selected to assure maximum print longevity. Giclees are produced one at a time. Depending upon their size, this intricate printing process can take up to an hour or more for each print. Afterward, the giclees are coated with a protective finish. Whether printed on fine art paper or canvas, the end result is always the same: a beautifully reproduced work of art with the look and feel of the original painting.

Textured Canvas

textured canvas printssuch as Howard Terpning's Opening the Sacred Bundleare published on a very selective basis. This unique and valuable technique replicates the look and feel of an original painting, including canvas texture and, at times, artist's brush strokes. The image is first printed by offset lithography with oil-based inks on a thin piece of oil-based material. A mold of the original painting can be used as a guide to create a feeling of brush strokes, or the artist can re-create the brush strokes. The mold is used with heat and pressure to bond the printed image to the artist-quality canvas. The resulting fine art print captures the texture as well as the image of the original and is framed without glass. Fine Art Canvas Art printed directly onto canvas material. Some canvas art comes already stretched. Larger canvas art will be delivered in a rolled form.

Canvas transfers

Canvas transfers has become a generic term that is not the standard by which limited edition fine art canvases should be referred. Most transfers are a chemical process by which inks are lifted from the original medium (usually paper) to another (canvas). Most inks, papers, and printing processes were not designed for this use so there can be a breakdown in color. This process affordably allows more people to own and enjoy a work of art than the original painting would.

Offset Lithography

Offset lithography is a photographic printing technique that uses inks, carried by rubber rollers called printing blankets, to transfer images from metal plates to paper. Not all prints are alike, however, even at the same price. While the industry for offset lithograph prints is often only four colors, Greenwich Workshop fine art prints (for example) print in as many as eighteen different colors, resulting in unmatched clarity and color fidelity to the original. This process affordably allows more people to own and enjoy a work of art than the original painting would.

Original Stone Lithograph

This is an age old technique in which an image is drawn on a stone by the artist (in reverse) and then pressed by hand, one color at a time, onto paper or canvas. Each lithograph is considered an original because the image is created during the process, thus no two are exactly the same.


The exacting serigraph process (also knows as silk-screening) is a time honored hand printing technique, based on stenciling, Ink or paint is carefully brushed through a fine fabric screen, portions of which have been masked for impermeability. For each color, a different portion of the screen must be masked, and each color must be allowed to dry before the next is applied. The depth of color in the resulting fine art serigraph is almost luminous.

Archival Quality

Fine Art limited editions sold by Artifacts Gallery are printed with the most advanced reproduction technology for image fidelity. Fade-resistant archival inks and the finest acid-free paper and canvas ensure the longevity of your fine art purchase. We assure the quality of your limited edition art. Artifacts Gallery has a legacy of purchasing only limited edition fine art of unsurpassed quality and integrity.

Hand Enhanced by Artist

Some paper or canvas editions include brushstrokes done by hand by the artist. These additions enhance both the look and value of the work.


A sketch or watercolor, usually handmade by the artist, which may accompany a special fine art edition.


Posters are general mass produced with commercial inks and papers and can be purchased anywhere for a range of prices.

Animation Cels

A broad term that encompasses most types of animation art. In its strictest interpretation, a cel is the plastic sheet, either cellulose acetate or cellulose nitrate, that animated characters are painted on. In practice, the term cel has come to mean that plastic sheet in combination with the outline and coloring of a character, object, and/or special effect. Outlines can be either hand-inked or Xerographically transferred to the sheet of plastic. Those outlines are then filled with color, either by hand-painting or a serigraphic process, to complete the cel.. 12 or 16 Field Cel:

These terms are used to describe the size of a particular cel. They come from the size of the "field" of view of the camera photographing the artwork. For rough use, consider a twelve-field cel roughly 10"x12", and a sixteen-field cel approximately 14"x16". The actual framed size may differ.

Original Production Cel

These are the cels actually used in the production of a cartoon. They can have either Xerographed or hand-inked outlines, and are hand-painted at the studio. These cels are one-of-a-kind pieces of art, and their rarity makes them highly sought after by collectors. Because these cels were created to make an actual cartoon, each cel is a component part of a larger movement. Different cels from the same scene may be more or less desirable depending on a variety of factors: size, profile and expression of the character, any damage to inking or paint, and overall visual appeal.

Limited Edition Cel

As with production cels, limiteds can have either hand-inked or xerographic outlines, and are also hand-painted. The major difference, as its name implies, is that the limited editions are created in limited quantities, generally in runs of 250 to 500 cels. Because of these small edition sizes, limiteds can also be very collectible. Some limiteds are exact reproductions of the frames of the film they represent. Others are based on contemporary interpretations of classic characters or scenes by their animators- Chuck Jones limiteds, for instance. Limited editions are always hand-numbered on the cel, and many are signed by the artists.


Sometimes called serigraph cels. The serigraphy process involves silk-screening each individual color to the cel, one at a time. Every distinct shade is a separate screen, and a separate pass in the procedure. As a result of this fine art operation, each color is flawlessly reproduced. Sericels are also created in limited quantities, typically 2500 to 5000 pieces. Because of their larger edition size, sericels are the most affordable type of animation art, ideal for the beginning collector.

Animation Drawing

These are the original, one-of-a-kind drawings, penciled by the animator, that cels are eventually made from. Drawings can be rough, or the more refined CLEAN-UP drawings. Sometimes, set-ups are available with matching drawings and the cel that was made from it.

Animation storyboard Drawing

A drawing or story sketch made for the storyboard, which conveys visually the plot and action of a scene or shot. The storyboard serves as a preliminary guide for the artists.

Animation Cel Model Sheets

Drawings, or studio reproductions of a character in a variety of actions used as reference by the animators during production.

Animation Backgrounds

Boy, is this a can of worms. We will try to cover the major types of Backgrounds you are likely to encounter, and what they mean.

Original Production Background

This covers a wide range of backgrounds that are original paintings, and were used in the production of a cartoon. It is important to note that it does not necessarily mean it is the same production that the cel is from. It may not even be from the same studio as the cel. If you see this term used, you will want to know what production the background is from.

Key Master Set-Up Background

This is the ultimate set-up, and the most rare. A key master set-up combines the original cel, or a key set-up of cels, with the background they were originally photographed over. When framed, this will look exactly as it did in the actual film or short.

Presentation or Hand-Painted Background

This type of background was specially prepared to complement the cel by an independent artist. Generally, it will be in the style of the original. Although it may enhance the visual appeal of the set-up, it adds little value or collectibility to the cel (unless the artist is famous in his or her own right).

Reproduction Background

This is the most common type of background. It is, as the name implies, a copy of a background. The reproduction can be by color Xerox, lithography, serigraphy or photography. In many cases, it is a reproduction of the original background.

Lithographs / Lithography

Lithography owes it existence to the chemical principal that oil and water do not mix. The artist draws the image to be printed on a flat slab of limestone, metal, or plastic using a greasy crayon. The surface is then chemically fixed and wet with water, which does not adhere to the greasy image areas. When the surface is inked with a roller, ink adheres only to the greasy areas and not the wet area. Paper or Canvas is then positioned over the plate and the press is manually operated to produce one impression. The process must be repeated for each color. It is not unusual for fine lithographs to be printed from 15 or more plates.

Giclee Prints

Creating Gicle fine art prints requires the utmost care and attention to detail. The printer customizes the color settings for each image so that each print is truly what the artist had in mind. The French term "Gicle", literally meaning "spray of ink," is used to describe these prints. Four precision nozzles spray up to a million microscopic droplets per second on to fine art paper or canvas. Displaying a full color spectrum, the prints are lush and velvety, capturing the subtle nuances of the original artwork.