The concept of atmospheric perspective is an old one. Artists have used it for centuries to create a sense of depth in their artwork. As an artist, you should consider using atmospheric perspective to make your artwork more realistic.
Atmospheric perspective is a technique used in art to create the illusion of depth. It is achieved by using color, value, contrast, and texture to simulate how objects far away appear less colorful and lighter in value than objects close to the viewer. It also mimics how the air is less dense near the viewer, so objects further from the viewer have a hazy look.
More recently, this technique has also been applied to photography and film-making. The basic principles are the same regardless of the medium, but you’ll get more out of it if you understand it! However, this post will focus on using atmospheric perspective in painting or other works of art.
We’ll start with the basics.
- 1 What is Atmospheric Perspective, and How Does it Work?
- 2 What are the Two Main types of Perspectives?
- 3 What are Atmospheric Perspective’s Components?
- 4 How can you apply Atmospheric Perspective to your artwork?
- 5 Tips for using atmospheric perspective in your artwork
- 6 What is Aerial Perspective?
- 7 Conclusion
What is Atmospheric Perspective, and How Does it Work?
Atmospheric perspective is a technique used in art to create the illusion of depth.
You can create it by using color, value, contrast, and textures to simulate how objects far away appear less colorful and lighter in value than objects close to the viewer.
Light scattering causes this effect in the atmosphere, diminishing the intensity of colors and light traveling long distances.
This phenomenon is also known as aerial perspective, and you can use it in your landscape paintings. The more distant an object or area is, the bluer it will appear because of scattering and atmospheric absorption (light traveling through the atmosphere is gradually absorbed by gas and dust).
The less distant an object or area is, the more yellow it will appear due to a lack of absorption.
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first to use atmospheric perspective. While creating his iconic Mona Lisa, da Vinci used this concept by painting the background landscape in blue tones.
However, the atmospheric perspective is not just limited to landscapes. You can also apply it to other subjects, including animals and humans!
What are the Two Main types of Perspectives?
There are two types of perspective: atmospheric perspective and linear perspective.
Linear perspective is based on mathematical principles and uses vanishing points to create the illusion of depth. Professionals in architecture and engineering drawings mostly use this.
On the other hand, the Atmospheric Perspective is a natural phenomenon when light passes through the atmosphere. It is based on the physical properties of light and the atmospheric elements that scatter and absorb light.
Artists often use it in landscape paintings to create a sense of depth and realism.
What are Atmospheric Perspective’s Components?
An Atmospheric Perspective comprises four elements: color, value, contrast, and texture.
Color – Atmospheric Perspective makes distant objects appear less vibrant or dull.
Value – Atmospheric Perspective causes areas in the distance to appear lighter in tone, especially towards the horizon.
Contrast – Atmospheric Perspective lessens the contrast between colors, so objects of different colors appear to blend.
Texture – the texture of an object also becomes less clear the further away it is.
The three components – atmospheric color, atmospheric value, and atmospheric texture are caused by atmospheric scattering, which is a function of gas and dust particles.
The component – atmospheric contrast – comes from the absorption that affects shorter wavelengths (violet and blue) than longer ones (red and yellow).
In addition to these three elements, you’ll also want to consider the following factors:
Scale – the size of an object relative to its surroundings will affect how it appears in a painting.
Proximity – objects that are closer to the viewer
How can you apply Atmospheric Perspective to your artwork?
Artists can use atmospheric perspective by changing an object’s size, shape, color, value, and texture to create distance from the viewer.
Use Atmospheric Contrast
Atmospheric contrast is the difference in color and value between the layer in an atmosphere called atmospheric layers.
You can find separate layers that are parallel to the horizon.
The top layer would be the sky, and blue will be the most dominant color.
The next layer will have less saturated colors, and it goes down to the horizon, which will be green or brown.
This change in detail causes the object to appear blurred and far away.
In addition, atmospheric perspective can enhance an object’s weight and speed.
For example, a cloud in the sky far away may appear lighter and wispier than a storm cloud. The closer object will be heavier and dark because of atmospheric contrast, giving it a sense of heaviness and weight.
Study the Paintings or Photographs
The best way to start is by studying photos or paintings that use this technique. If you have the luxury to physically be in a place where you can see it, like a hill station or high-rise building, then nothing like that.
Notice how the background colors and values change as you move further away from the subject. Try to recreate this effect in your image using similar colors and values. You can also experiment with different atmospheric effects, such as fog or haze.
It’s important to remember that atmospheric perspective is all about creating the illusion of depth. The further away an object is, the less detail it will have. So don’t go overboard on atmospheric details.
Use Logically and Do not Overuse
You should also logically use this technique and not overuse it. Atmospheric effects will be more noticeable on farther away objects.
So, if you have a mountain in the background, the atmospheric perspective is perfect for depicting tree-covered hills and distant forests.
However, the atmospheric perspective will not work on smaller objects or scenes close to the viewer.
One way to improve your paint application is to use the principle of atmospheric perspective when estimating how much pressure you need to apply to each increment of distance when painting larger areas such as skies and landscapes.
Best for Landscape Painting
Finally, atmospheric perspective works best in a landscape painting with a clear horizon line.
However, you can use it on all kinds of subjects and artworks! The atmospheric perspective is perfect for adding atmospheric effects to watercolor paintings, illustrations, and even portraits.
You can also use atmospheric perspective as a stylistic device to create an ethereal or dream-like feeling in your picture.
Tips for using atmospheric perspective in your artwork
- Use atmospheric perspective to create the illusion of depth and create a sense of depth and realism in your artwork
- The further away an object is, the less detail it will have.
- You can use atmospheric perspective on all kinds of subjects, including portraits.
- However, atmospheric perspective works best in a landscape painting with a clear horizon line.
- Remember to use atmospheric perspective logically – atmospheric effects will be more noticeable on farther away objects.
- In every painting, you should experiment with different atmospheric effects, such as fog or haze, enhancing your artistic skills.
- Use it wherever required but; don’t overdo it!
- You can use the Atmospheric perspective as a stylistic device for creating surreal or dream-like effects in your picture.
- The atmospheric perspective is perfect for adding atmospheric effects to watercolor paintings, illustrations, and even portraits!
- You can create an atmospheric perspective for blue skies in the distance and warmer atmospheric colors closer to you.
- The atmospheric perspective is not only based on how far away an object is but also on its size. The larger the object is, the more noticeable the atmospheric perspective will be.
What is Aerial Perspective?
Atmospheric and Aerial Perspectives are terms often used interchangeably, but you can use atmospheric perspectives more commonly in arts.
Aerial perspective is a scientific term describing how light scatters and is absorbed as it passes through the atmosphere, which affects the colors and values.
Both types of perspectives create a sense of depth in an artwork.
However, the atmospheric perspective is more about how colors and values change as you move further away from the subject.
So atmospheric perspective in drawing includes aerial perspective, but aerial perspective does not have atmospheric perspective.
You can find the aerial perspective used by Leonardo Da Vinci in his paintings, the Monalisa and the Last Supper.
Many artists implement atmospheric perspective into their artwork to create a sense of depth and realism.
To learn more about atmospheric or aerial perspectives or have any questions, feel free to reach out! We would love to hear from you!