Online Mini Lesson 25
Atmospheric Perspective (also called
Aerial Perspective) for Artists & How to Create the Illusion of
Atmosphere in a Painting:
Before we get to theory and
definitions of Perspective what many students ask is “how do
I create the illusion of perspective in my paintings”? What colors
do I mix with what colors? See the example of this below #2
One of my techniques for transmitting
the “how to” of Aerial or atmospheric perspective is creating images
of my pallet with colors mixed to create an atmospheric illusion.
See an example of an oil sketch and a photo of its pallet below "#2.
Aerial Perspective (also called
Atmospheric Perspective) and Linear Perspective (Two different
concepts that work together to create the illusion of depth in a
1. Linear Perspective:
Things appear smaller the further they
are from the viewer. Think of a railroad track ... the railroad ties
near us are big and the next a little smaller and so on
progressively to where they appear to be so small, they disappear.
We are not addressing Linear Perspective here. For enrolled
students, you have your Lesson 3 perspective art book with thorough
information about Linear Perspective. For others, here are
some WEB addresses that will give you a jump start on Linear
2. Atmospheric Perspective:
The interference with visual perception
caused by moistures, dust and other particle in the air between us
and objects. Atmospheric Perspective causes loss of contrast, detail
and sharp focus. Leonardo DaVinci called it "the perspective of
disappearance". Depending on the day, the light (sunlight on a New
Zealand beach is different than a foggy London day). Elements seem
to take on a blue-gray middle value as they increase in distance on
a clear day.
What About Those Pallets?
The two following images below are an oil sketch I did and a shot of the pallet I used to
create the soccer player and his fans atmospheric perspective in the 20 or 30 feet between the
player and the fans in the stadium behind him:
Further: A demo
of how Atmospheric
works in a medium space between the close up of a still life
and the huge distances of a miles deep landscape.
This is maybe 20 feet deep ... the soccer player in the
foreground has, stronger contrasts, richer color, more
detail than the fans who are further back ...and they they
get lighter, have less rich colors, less contrast and get
lighter and grayer/bluer:
Pallet I used to paint this and
achieve depth shown below:
A key word in Atmospheric Perspective is
TEXTURE, FOCUS, SOFTER EDGES, BRIGHTNESS, COLOR INTENSITY, etc.
change relative to the distance of objects into the picture and to
A list of the effects on objects as they get
further from the viewer:
TEXTURE density decreases as an
object gets further away.
FOCUS objects lose detail as they
get further from us.
BRIGHTNESS: objects are brighter,
more contrasting when closer to the viewer
COLOR- Chroma or color
intensity is greater closer to the viewer and less rich in more
distant objects. Put another way,
Objects lose color saturation as they recede.
EDGES appear progressively softer in
PAINTERS emphasize the nearness of
elements by using thicker paint and more detail the closer
elements are and less so as elements recede in space.
Near mountains are strongly textured,
detailed, contrast is strong, then as the other mountains
get further back, they get lighter, have less rich colors,
less contrast, texture and get lighter and bluer:
What happens in a shallow image like a still
life which is only a few inches to a foot or so in depth?
effects: Far apples above have
less focus (softer edges and details). Colors less rich,
lower contrast, softer texture the further back into the
space of the picture.
Linear Perspective effects:
Apples get smaller, overlap shows linear perspective depth.
The reverse effects of both Linear and Atmospheric
Perspective occurs the nearer objects are to the viewer.
End of Atmospheric Perspective Mini
Online Lesson #25.
Your paintings should be atmospheric
! More information about Atmospheric Perspective on the WEB at these
addresses (just click on links below:
An index page of all 25 Online Mini Art
Lessons are at: