Chiaroscuro ;  Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures. Similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro.


The Matchmaker by Gerrit van Honthorst gives an example highlighting this style. image: wikipedia

Further related specialized uses of the term include chiaroscuro woodcut, for coloured woodcuts printed with different blocks, each using a different coloured ink; and chiaroscuro drawing for drawings on coloured paper with drawing in a dark medium and white highlighting.

source: Chiaroscuro. (2015, February 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:06, February 24, 2015, from